Publisher: Tor Teen
Author: Ann Aguirre
Released: July 9th, 2019
Warnings: Missing persons, racism
I received a copy of Heartwood Box through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Heartwood Box is the newest novel by Ann Aguirre, and it is an amazing blend of different genres. It’s young adult, and has romance, supernatural, and science fiction elements as well. It’s a time travel tale, but also a tale of a teenage girl trying to do what is right. And it’s so amazingly dark and brilliant.
It’s also a very introspective novel, in its own way. It makes you think. About assumptions. About what we can do to change our presents, and how that’ll affect the future. About a lot of things, really.
This tale follows Araceli Flores Harper. A teenage girl dropped off in a very remote town. Supposedly it was for her own safety, but she ends up in more danger than she could have ever expected. But her presence may be exactly what this town needed – because there is something dark going on, and nobody but Araceli seems inclined to do anything about it.
Warnings: Heartwood Box is a brilliant story, but like any dark novel, it has some edges to it. In this case there are missing persons (including children) and implications of racism. There’s also an abusive relationship within, though it technically is never confirmed.
Heartwood Box was an absolutely thrilling and chilling novel. And I’ll be honest with you – it was nothing like what I expected. In a good way. It was dark and supernatural, but the description doesn’t do it justice. There is so much more to this novel. And I love that.
I love how many different elements were blended together to make this piece of work. It made for something truly unique and original, while still having a lot of familiar tones. That made it oddly comforting, if that makes any sense. Though at times I think it also added to the tension – because reflexively I knew when something bad was likely to happen.
There were elements of this book that reminded me of other stories. However, I will give Heartwood Box complete credit for a few things here. For one, Ann Aguirre owned up to any of the connections by referencing them directly. And for another, she made these bits her own, doing something new with them.
I expected the tension and fear, but I was surprised by many of the other emotions that this book brought up. I certainly wasn’t expecting to well up at times. Though that was a nice surprise. I love novels that get under my skin. And Heartwood Box certainly did that.
As for the main character in this novel – Araceli – I was fascinated by her. She’s a well designed character, for starters. Her backstory is so unique compared to so many of us who are stuck in one place. Yet it was easy to understand why she didn’t love that lifestyle, while still being fully capable of learning so much from it. I adored her conviction and willingness to put herself on the line for her friends. It made her endearing.
I love that Ann Aguirre is experimenting with her writing. And that Heartwood Box was the result of that. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!