Absolute Heart (Larissa’s Review)

Title: Absolute Heart
Author: Michael Vance
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: July 23, 2019
Genre(s): young adult, steampunk, adventure, fantasy, coming of age
Page Count: 288
Reviewed by: Larissa
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


As the British Empire builds power based on new clockwork and steam technology, Ireland draws its might from its potent magical traditions. Only two boys with little in common can end the fighting between the two nations and prevent a terrible worldwide war.

Gavin Haveland’s dreams are in the sky with the airships, while his reality as a High Councilman’s son means hiding secrets that will get him executed if revealed.

Orion of Oberon is not just a powerful mage, he’s the nephew of the Irish queen, and the one she’s sent him on a quest for the ancient Dragon Stones that will bolster her fading power. In the process, he might restore his family to their rightful place in society.

With enemies determined to stop them by any means necessary and war or peace hinging on their success, Gavin and Orion must find a way to work together, despite the centuries of mistrust between their nations

Absolute Heart surprised me with how much I liked it. The story is essentially a coming of age story, wrapped in a big adventure set in an alternate version of earth with a mixture of steampunk and fantasy. Think Merlin on an airship. While it has all the triggers of a good young adult book; first love, adventure, betrayal, fate of the universe is on your shoulders, love triangle and more, it’s wrapped-up in a very well-spun, twisty-turny story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It did for me. 

The story is about Gavin and Orion and their friends, from steampunk style England and magical Ireland respectively, who both have a big part to play in the future of their countries and the coming war. However, they also have a part to play to each other. Now, I won’t hash out the plot as the blurb gives a good indication, but I will tell you this: this story is so much bigger than it appears. There are many cogs turning in this story. 

The author takes time in setting the story up and giving the reader of view of the world it’s set in, so I found the beginning a little slow, but necessary as a lot happens in this book. The plot has a plot and there are twists and turns around every corner. I thought this was well done. At no point in the story did I lose track, but it did keep me guessing on how this would all turn out and let me tell you, I guessed wrong a few times. 

The romance and love triangle between Gavin and his friend Lucas and Orion is juvenile in that they are young and just learning who they are. In that, Absolute Heart is a coming of age story. However, the love triangle was well executed, without demeaning any of the characters. 

Speaking of characters, there are quite a few in this story and besides our main characters, there is a strong support cast and a strong female character (Landa), which I liked. It rounded the story out. 

The writing of Absolute Heart is a tricky thing to review. It was well done overall. However, I had the impression that this is a new author and at times the writing was trying too hard or overcompensating with dialogue to make the characters authentic of their world and time period. What it did was make the writing a bit bland and clumsy sometimes. Now it’s not bad at all, but it needs to grow. My feeling is that this could be a great author with a little more practise. 

So do I recommend Absolute Heart? Yes! 

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Galley copy of Absolute Heart provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.

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