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?
This was a darkly beautiful novel that really explored death in a way that I’ve never seen done before. I found it to be relevant to readers without being cliché, though Death ended up being a rather handsome fellow. That’s totally not a spoiler, right? I knew immediately that Mr. Knell (I see what you did there!) was Death, or a related entity, so I’m going to assume that most anyone that reads this will pick up on it too. This book, to me, was elegantly done and Senza Fyne was written remarkably well. Did I mention that the cover is also beautiful?
Senza Fyne is a stunning young lady born to wealthy and loving parents in 1860’s England. Her otherwise enviable life is plagued with the deaths of her loved ones, beginning with her grandmother. This has given her a terrible fear of death that haunts her every moment… that is until she meets Mr. Knell. Handsome and mysterious, Senza is drawn to Mr. Knell, but never quite seems to be able to draw close to him until one day he offers her an escape she has always longed for- an escape from death itself. She quickly agrees to his proposition and begins a life eternal, always stealing heartbeats from those around her to sustain her never-ending life. Staying young and beautiful forever isn’t always a dream come true…
Senza’s unnaturally long life held a number of sad memories along the way. She saw what it was like to outlive every member of her family- she feared death for herself, but had to sit with her family as they died and she remained young and unblemished. To me that would be a far worse fate than death- to hold the memories of those you loved and to know that you were alone in the world. She also learned that you cannot control who lives or dies, the consequences of loving a mortal, and what it’s like to be recognized by a relative that resents you. My oh my, AJ Krafton really thought about the repercussions of living for an eternity and I commend her for this! I was pleasantly surprised at all the details she included and the situations she addressed. The ending was spectacular- I was extremely moved by the conclusion, which was well played and quite happy.
I would like to note that I received this book via NetGalley and the publisher. Thank You!