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Don t expect HEARTSEEKER to follow the well worn, traditional path of fantasies for children No dragon flits between turbulent clouds, no child is whisked away on an enchanted train, and no wizard waves a magic wand The setting and characters exist in a sort of in between time and place, which feels like ancient Britain but not quite and the elements of fantasy remind me of the magic or magical realism found in many of the classic books by E Nesbit In HEARTSEEKER, the first person narrator tells her tale with such clear eyed candor, readers might be convinced it s the truth For, after all, Only Fallow is physically unable to tell a lie As a small child, the few times she attempts to stray from an honest account, she develops a dull pain in her head And as she matures, her involuntary reaction worsens she becomes violently ill to the point of passing out No chance of her being an unreliable narrator Now, Only has lived past eleven harvest seasons, and, taking to heart her grandmother s advice, she s managed to keep the other side of her cunning hidden from everyone, including the rest of her family Her loving parents and two older brothers don t realize that lies are revealed to her in the form of shapes and colors that surround the liar But is her cunning a welcomed gift or a dreaded curse She s puzzled by the complexity of the world around her At sanctuary, Rector Wither prays to Mother All and warns his flock of the dangers of unnaturalness neighbors resent her father s success as a farmer who grows apples in his orchard to make Scrump, a drink fit for the King people call the Ordish, who move with the seasons, river rats and wet collars townsfolk grumble about her father hiring Ordish to help at harvest time the King whom Only has been taught to respect is stealing children and Only has no true friends since she can see the lies on so many lips This year, after the arrival of the boats, Only actually meets and befriends two Ordish children and shortly afterwards is witness to their being kidnapped Her cunning warns her of the danger in time for her to escape but also arouses the suspicions of the child stealer Soon the King sends his inquisitor to confirm the reports of a girl who can be of great value to a King who needs to weed out the liars among those who surround him Suddenly, Only is elevated to a position she s never considered Ripped from her home and family, she s facing danger and intrigue way beyond anything she could have imagined when she was only Only Fallow Is she capable of the task she s been assigned, or will her cunning fail her if she s challenged by stronger magical abilities This story sparkles with clever language, a swiftly moving, action packed plot, and thought provoking concepts Middle grade and middle school students who read Beatty s debut novel will be thrilled when the sequel is published, so they can follow Only s adventures As Only might say, Mother All Ain t that the truth Full Disclosure I know Melinda Beatty because she is a bookseller at my glorious local indie, The Curious Iguana We have never spent time together outside that context book lover who sells and writes books and book lover who buys and writes about books And, to be clear, I bought my copy of Heartseeker Gladly I will likely buy a few for relatives and friends.I ve been lamenting of late the lack of books with electric plotting, memorable characters, and artful prose, the kind of books that grab hold of you, pull you into their universe, and stay with you for than five minutes after you ve finished them.Problem solved.Melinda Beatty s debut DEBUT novel, Heartseeker, checks all of those boxes and.Only Fallow, six years old, lives in small, simple Presston, youngest of three in a family whose father s cider is favored by King Alphonse, bringing jealous attention to Only and her brothers, Ether and Jon Feeling like an outcast, Only is drawn to Lark and Rowan, two children of the Ordish, the traveling folk rud to have gifts of cunning and magic, who help Only s father each season with the harvest and are much looked down upon, distrusted, and discriminated against by the subjects of King Alphonse, whose agents have been kidnapping Ordish children, using them as slaves until their relatives can raise the ransom for their return Only feels especially akin to the Ordish when she discovers, with the help of her grandmother, Non, that she has a cunning of her own she can see lies Too, her gift comes with a price if she herself lies, she is stricken by great pain, a seizure like blacking out Non advises Only to keep her gift hidden, but through twisted misadventure, rumor of Only s abilities reach the King, who believes such an ability to discover liars will help him save his kingdom which is in disarray But truth being told and liars being revealed are the last things some in the kingdom want to happen, and they attempt to stop Only from taking her place at court in the enormous city of Bellskeep, a role she has only agreed to in order to save her family.I am rat rotten at synopses, but that s a rough ish outline of 336 pages chockful of adventure, plot, surprises, and fascinations Melinda Beatty clearly has a cunning, herself She has built a world utterly unique and wonderfully believable Her introduction of its specific vocabulary, traditions, belief systems, and social structures is seamlessly, skillfully done by using context and dialogue There is no pedantic, dull as dirt back story ing to interrupt the action, the world is made and the characters come to life through the telling of the story.And what a story Only Fallow is a likeable, trustworthy narrator and you want to go with her, warn her, stop her, help her, urge her on, hug her, protect her Her Ordish pals, Lark and Rowan are also attention grabbing and vitally alive, worthy of their own tales The there s the court intrigue And the love story Only s brother Jon is one half of I don t want to give any away than I already have And grandmother, Non, I can t wait to spend time with her.Heartseeker, labeled Middle Grade, is also wildly enjoyable for adults Enjoyable as in remember that feeling you had as a child when you discovered Harriet The Spy, or Little Women, or Portnoy s Complaint I was a very precocious child Heartseeker draws you in with that same entirely other yet also totally familiar world, as in, it s clearly outside your day to day reality, but the emotions and behaviors are on point, from the heart, as if the author had culled her story from inside your head and dreams.Melinda Beatty has that cunning of gifted authors who can fabricate riveting, riotously readable tales that elucidate real life emotions and experiences.I eagerly await volumes 2 and 3 And, in fact, anything else Melinda Beatty writes I suspect she will be too busy soon inventing other worlds to sell me any books, but that s okay, she ll be selling lots and lots of books in a new and exciting way by sharing her work with the world. Originally posted on The Quirky Book Nerd I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review Heartseeker is one of those novels that makes me even glad that I am given the opportunity to read and review books, especially those for younger audiences Reading has always been such an important part of my life ever since I was a kid, and it is something that has led me to find my other biggest passion of writing I get such joy out of encouraging people of any age to read, and discovering a middle grade gem like this that I can so highly recommend is always wonderful This novel reminds me of the fantasy stories I adored when I was younger, that piqued my imagination and creativity and solidified my love of reading It is a beautiful tale full of love, magic, and strength that will captivate readers of any age.In this novel, we follow a young girl named Only Fallow, who has the ability to see lies When people lie, she sees them ringed in a whole variety of colors, each connected to the type of lie and intentions of the person However, this power comes with the curse of not being able to tell a lie without experiencing physical pain As magic, or cunning , is not accepted among her people, she is forced to keep these things a secret but sometimes secrets have a life of their own.When Only s powers are discovered by the King, he takes her from her home to live and work in his castle at Bellskeep The King s intentions are to have her assist him in determining deceit among those of his kingdom, as there are many traitors about But this plan is not foolproof, as the potential cunning of others is not taken into account Now, Only must navigate her new circumstances, where her greatest power can also be her greatest weakness.This is such a unique and interesting story that I found myself immediately swept up into The idea of seeing lies as colors as well as the meanings given to each one is not only an inventive way to portray this power, it is also truly and utterly magical Readers are given the chance to fall into a vibrant world and an epic adventure that captures and carries the imagination into new realms As a whole, this narrative is something that I believe will spark the creativity of all of its readers I know it definitely did that for me.Beatty has crafted every component of this novel beautifully Her writing is incredibly easy to get caught up in, and fluidly carries the reader over the pages The style in which she writes is very distinctive and fitting for the setting this adds further dimension to the novel as a whole The world is carefully constructed and vividly described It unfolds and builds up around you as you fall into Only s life Beatty s writing breathes life into her narrative and fully immerses the reader in every aspect of the story.Only is an incredibly strong heroine She is brave, intelligent, and extremely loyal a very admirable female lead Beatty does a great job of filling out her character, taking the time to really build her a three dimensional personality I had a quick and easy time connecting with her and coming to love her The characterization as a whole is very solid, as Beatty fills this work with a cast of memorable characters My particular favorites were Non, Jon, and Gareth The relationships between everyone in this novel are very well portrayed, and everyone plays a massive role in driving the narrative.I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in this heartwarming and exciting adventure, and was very reluctant to leave The escapades of these characters continue to replay in my mind, and will surely stay with me for a long time It is a story that I can see being universally accessible among readers of all ages Heartseeker is a charming and wholesome read that I would highly encourage younger readers to pick up, and that I would recommend to everyone in general. A marvelous, entertaining, and important read Full disclaimer the author was one of my best friends in undergrad, but the book stands by itself Only Fallow is a stubborn farmer s daughter with an inexplicable gift she can see when other people lie by the colors bursting around their head, but when she tries to lie herself, it causes her literal pain Only learns to know the Ordish, migrant farm workers that come by boat to pick her father s apples that go to make the king s scrump When two of the Ordish are captured for sale to the king himself, the investigation leads to the discovery of Only s gift and the king s command for her to appear at court Beatty writes effortlessly and readably you can hear each character s voice in your head, from the homespun dialects of the farmers to the oily smooth enunciation of court intrigue The reader enters immediately into her inventive world, not having to struggle with overly complex made up names and geographies, because she introduces them naturally and subtly The personalities are unique and amusing, and because we learn to love them, the stakes are high Younger readers will love Only and the Ordish, and older readers will appreciate the unfortunate relevance of a political elite that preys upon the Other to maintain their economic and political status quo My only regret is that I can t immediately turn to the next one I need to know what happens next I am looking forward to reading the next release in this Heartseeker series This is so well done and thoroughly enjoyable a middle grade fantasy adventure.Only Farrow is a preteen who has grown up as one of three siblings living with her two brothers, parents and grandmother in an apple orchard outside of their kingdom They need help to harvest their trees and each year the Ordish, the river people, come to work in the orchard They are not permitted to associate with the Ordish socially, but Only accidentally meets two Ordish children And, the adventure escalates from there.What I loved the author incorporating the distinction between classes the magical aspect to the story described as cunning the relationship between Only and her brother the inclusion of the special relationship Only has with her grandmother the conflict Only s resourcefulness in trying to overcome her circumstances the author s ability to immerse the reader in the scene through the descriptions Only provides while traveling to new places and experiencing new things in her life the discernment Only has to make independently in trying to figure out who is good or evil This book is very engaging and will certainly capture the imagination of a middle grade reader I want to know what happens to Only next Highly recommend Best middle grade book I ve read in some time Really enjoyed this read I loved the world building and the characters, and I loved that the book is about courage and truth Can t wait to read the next one SPOILER FREE Other reviews give plot outlines I read very widely and bought the Kindle Edition after a personal recommendation.I confess that I really didn t know what to expect as this is a novel for children and young adults, apparently, and I haven t dipped my feet in those waters since I read The Hobbit when I was on the cusp of becoming a young adult myself Harry Potter excepted, naturally I shouldn t have been concerned as I was hooked within a few short pages and, at the very least, Heartseeker proves again what JK Rowling showed us That when in the hands of an excellent writer, a well crafted tale remains a well crafted tale regardless of the target audience.Melinda Beatty, make no mistake, is an excellent writer Characters are well drawn and believable and the world building is both thorough and utterly compelling Beatty s dialogue, rustic and home spun for the most part, includes excellent turns of phrase and no little humour Often while I m reading a fantasy, something on the page will suddenly strike me as simply too farfetched for me to continue to trustingly hold the author s hand I lose belief in both the author and the story Similarly, in the case of historical fiction, if I come across a grating anachronism then I am suddenly snapped out of the world that the author has replicated Reading Heartseeker was immersive Nothing jarred, nothing seemed out of place, nothing felt wrong I was happy to be along for the entire ride.Speaking of which, this is the first in a series and if the second is half as good as the first then I ll be along for the entire duration.A rare from me Five Stars. *Download Book ⇢ Heartseeker (Heartseeker #1) ⇔ A Vibrant Fantasy Adventure Debut About A Girl Who Can See LiesYou Re A Fallow Of The Orchard You Re As Tough As A Green Apple In SummerOnly Fallow Was Just Six Harvests Old When She Realized That Not Everyone Sees Lies For Only, Seeing Lies Is As Beautiful As Looking Through A Kaleidoscope, But Telling Them Is As Painful As Gnawing On Cut Glass Only S Family Warns Her To Keep Her Cunning Hidden, But Secrets Are Seldom Content To Stay SecretWhen Word Of Only S Ability Makes Its Way To The King, She S Plucked From Her Home At The Orchard And Brought To The Castle At Bellskeep There She Learns That The Kingdom Is Plagued By Traitors, And That Her Task Is To Help The King Distinguish Between Friend And Foe But Being Able To See Lies Doesn T Necessarily Mean That Others Aren T Able To Disguise Their Dishonesty With Cunnings Of Their OwnIn The Duplicitous, Power Hungry Court, The Truth Is Only S Greatest Weapon And Her Greatest Weakness Wow It took me just a bit to get into this because the world building was so complete that I felt like I was visiting a country that I SHOULD already know, that I had been to before and had forgotten from my childhood, that I kept stopping to rack my brains, and try to figure it out, but no This was so different and amazing and original Yeah Once I settled down into the story, I didn t want to leave it, so when the ending came, I turned the pages looking for MORE, but there wasn t any Be warned You WILL want it leaves you hanging Beatty, please give us a sequel soon The characters are compelling and complex and flawed they don t always do what you would want them to do or what you think they should do, which makes this book interesting The world is full of places where I would love to visit, and places I would love to visit if I had a troop of armed guards with me haha The plot does leave you hanging, as I mentioned, and it isn t clear whom the bad guys are necessarily I can t tell if the MC has made a wise choice at the end Yikes.Heads up if this is a thing a minor character is gay and is bringing up her niece as her ward and heir Just throwing it out there in case this is an issue Cases of violence, death, lying, thieving, and back stabbing hey, part of this takes place at the royal court, so what did you expect On the flip side extreme loyalty , love, self sacrifice, dedication, patriotism, and family values. Beatty has a good idea here a girl with the rare gift of finding truth and reading people s emotions is sent on an adventure to save the kingdom Though the main character, Only Fallow, can see lies, she does not know whom to trust Neither does the reader Beatty does a great job of humanizing the characters by showing both their faults and good intentions, so the reader has to really think about where to place their loyalties The main problem with the book is not the story, but the writing style The tale takes place in an older time, so Beatty uses an older form of language and dialect The fifth grader that asked to review the book, brought it back to me a few days later because it was hard for her to understand the words and phrases She only made it through 2 chapters Once I started reading it, I saw the reason for her struggle It was tedious for me to get through the first several chapters because of the writing style Older readers should be able to catch onto the unusual language after three or four chapters, but younger readers probably won t bother And seeing that the target audience is mid grade, not upper grade, this is indeed a valid concern Which is a shame because the story idea is interesting and clever.