Title: The Heartbeat Thief
Author: A J Krafton
Release Date: September 18th 2015
Age Group: New Adult
Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth—she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.
In 1860 Surrey, a young woman has only one occupation: to marry. Senza Fyne is beautiful, intelligent, and lacks neither wealth nor connections. Finding a husband shouldn’t be difficult, not when she has her entire life before her.
But it’s not life that preoccupies her thoughts. It’s death—and that shadowy spectre haunts her every step.
So does Mr. Knell. Heart-thumpingly attractive, obviously eligible—he’d be her perfect match if only he wasn’t so macabre. All his talk about death, all that teasing about knowing how to avoid it…
When her mother arranges a courtship with another man, Senza is desperate for escape from a dull prescripted destiny. Impulsively, she takes Knell up on his offer. He casts a spell that frees her from the cruelty of time and the threat of death—but at a steep price. In order to maintain eternal youth, she must feed on the heartbeats of others.
It’s a little bit Jane Austen, a little bit Edgar Allen Poe, and a whole lot of stealing heartbeats in order to stay young and beautiful forever. From the posh London season to the back alleys of Whitechapel, across the Channel, across the Pond, across the seas of Time…
How far will Senza Fyne go to avoid Death?
The idea of taking something from a person to keep oneself animated is not a new one in the fantasy genre; vampires drink blood, demons suck souls and zombies eat brains!
The Heartbeat Thief is an original take on this idea as Ash Krafton’s protagonist, Senza Fyne, pilfers heartbeats from those around her in exchange for her eternal youth.
At the beginning of AJ Krafton’s new adult fantasy novel, I found it difficult to like Senza. She appears vain, conceited and uninterested. Despite this, I was still intrigued by the story, her relationship with Mr Knell and how her obsession with death leads her to immortality. As the story develops and Senza realises the consequences of her decision, including losing those that she loves and cares for, she ironically becomes more human to the reader. This is a clever move by AJ Krafton as we can now empathise with Senza’s loneliness, grief, hopelessness – and her relentless hunger for the heartbeats of others.
AJ Krafton’s writing is beautiful and the story flows seamlessly between historical time periods, from 1859 to the early 21st Century. AJ Krafton expertly captures these long years in Senza’s life, whether by fashion, attitudes or events. Perhaps the most dramatic of these is the time Senza spends in Whitechapel in 1888. Not only is this the year of Jack the Ripper, but we witness Senza forge her first real friendship since leaving home, with the wonderful Mary Jane.
From this time, Senza’s existence is filled with amazing highs and the most heart-wrenching lows, all of which lead to The Heartbeat Thief’s remarkable conclusion.
I am a long standing fan of AJ Krafton, but for me her writing in The Heartbeat Thief is on another level, which makes this story totally irresistible.