Vlad Dracula has long lived in the shadows cast by his bloodthirsty father, the voivode, and his older brother, Mircea. Despite their cruelty, Vlad has yearned to prove himself worthy of the throne his whole life. In the cold halls of the voivode’s palace, Vlad can only rely on his cousin and closest friend, Andrei Musat.
When Vlad and Andrei meet Ilona Csáki, the daughter of an influential boyar, they each find themselves inextricably drawn to her. But then Ilona is betrothed to Mircea as part of a political alliance, and Vlad’s resentfulness of his brother begins to seethe into something far darker.
Ilona has no desire to marry the voivode’s eldest son, but love and marriage are the least of her worries. The royal family’s enemies have already tried to put an arrow through her back—and if anyone discovers her blossoming feelings for Andrei and Vlad, she may just wish they’d succeeded.
Beneath the shadow of impending war, the only battle that will be deadlier than the one for Ilona’s life will be the one for her heart.
It’s not like I expected Vlad Dracula to be good…but I did expect him to be something more than a whiny, selfish brat. I mean, he was unlikable throughout the entire book, so I really had no idea why Ilona was attracted to him at all. I wish Ilona had been a bit more fully realized, too, as she felt very one-dimensional. I did like Andrei, though, and I cheered for him the whole time—especially hoping he’d realize the truth about his best friend and put some distance between them before it got him killed.
The Heart of the Impaler is Alexander Delacroix’s debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.)