Cover Image: Journey to the Heart Stone

Journey to the Heart Stone

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Member Reviews

Amazing world building, but very intense characters. Found myself putting it down a couple times to take a breather.
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Journey to the Heart Stone is a well-written fantasy about a matriarchal society with a Goddess religion, composed of three lands, Minca, Caroo and Dute. Power hungry Vestor assassinates his sister, Mother and leader of the Minca people, and then oppresses the people, subjugating the women. The Mincan land is dying because the Goddess is no longer honored. Cora, the new Mother Minca has a vision to reunite the three lands and rise up against Vestor. Her brother Steff and the Mincan Teller Dov, set out for the Caroo and Dute lands to find the Mothers of those lands, bring Cora's vision to them and ask for help in fighting Vestor. The multiple points of view of Cora, Steff, Dov and Vestor create a fast-paced fantasy adventure culminating in an epic battle of good against evil. The characters are interesting, likeable and flawed, and the scenery vivid. There is an info dump at the beginning but then the story quickly starts moving along. This book has the feel of a YA fantasy. Journey to the Heart Stone is an enjoyable, intense, immersive and engaging story. Thank you to BooksForward for a copy to review.
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Journey to the Heart Stone is about a matriarchal-ruled tribe living in peace for generations. But then, one man (Vestor) desired to destroy the tribes' balance. Cora (Vestor's niece) had a vision to restore the balance to their land by reuniting all the tribes (Minca, Dute, and Carroo) at the Heart Stone.

The worldbuilding in Journey to the Heart Stone is impressive for a debut novel. I love learning about the tribes' gifts, like how the Mincan's gift is their mind and how they create machines for farming, and the Duties gift can heal people. 

But my main issue was the writing. Journey to the Heart Stone has a lot of characters, and sometimes I have a hard time separating who is who because the characters are the same. Also, it is said at the beginning that the main character is around 30, but she acts and speaks like a YA character. Another thing that makes Journey to the Heart Stone feels like a YA book is the name for the main antagonist, which only YA characters would call their antagonist 'Evil V.'

This book was not for me, but for a debut novel its pretty good.
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This book was a unique story for me, a quite different type of fantasy.  I liked the tribe and matriarch aspect of all, the sense of we are all family and worked as one to defeat evil. It grasped my attention at the beginning there was a lot of info dump, but I was genuinely curious about the new type of world I was diving into. This felt like a short book for the world-building and the magic system that was needed and at times it felt rushed and at others, it felt rushed, which made my attention lagging. I grasped the overall concept and the story was good, had a great wrap-up and unexpected ending, which did keep me engaged throughout but I felt it needed a little more punch.
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The Goddess danced the world into existence and with it, she made three tribes: the Minca, Carroo and Dute.  Each tribe has a special talent and connection to the Goddess.  Each tribe has a Mother that feels the connection with the Goddess and fosters that connection with their tribe.  For years there was peace, until one Mincan, Vestor, murders his sister the Mother Minca and sets the tribes against one another, seeking power for himself.  Cora, the current Mother Minca, has a vision of peace between the tribes.  However, all three tribes must reunite at the Heart Stone at the Winter Solstice for a chance at peace and Vestor is watching their every move.  
Journey to the Heart Stone is a fantasy set in a matrilineal world.  The beginning scene as the Goddess danced the world into existence was beautiful and grabbed my attention.  I wish there were a few more scenes of the Goddess or of the world during peace.  For a fantasy, the book is on the shorter side and everything moves quickly.  The writing goes directly into Cora's dilemma with Vestor and her vision for peace.  From there, the point of view splits between the points of view from each tribe's representative on their journey to the Heart Stone.  Each journey focused on building trust, having an open mind and finding friendship.  I actually would have liked more of Vestor and his agent's point of view to understand his motives better.  The ending brought tension and suspense, but wrapped up rather quickly.  I would have loved an extended battle scene and more in depth struggle.  Overall, a fast paced fantasy with great messaging and interesting characters.  

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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Journey to the Heart Stone author tells the story of three matriarchal tribes who have been at war for a long time.  Now the matriarch of the Minca tribe wants her power back and the only way to defeat her uncle is by uniting with the others.

This book has a very interesting approach, since it is not based on a single protagonist, but rather it is about different stories that are told with the same purpose, coming together at the end to defeat the villain.

What I found most remarkable about this novel is the world building. It is presented from one religion to different tribes to carry the characters. Divided into three tribes, Minca, Carroo and Dute, each character shows the customs and abilities of each region and that was what I liked the most. The author was able to create a world with different and varied characters in different settings that make the story enjoyable and that had me wanting to continue reading.

My big drawback is that precisely when trying to tell so many stories at the same time, too many characters are presented that made me get lost more than once. I think it was a nice idea, but there came a point where it seemed very dense trying to understand who was being talked about and what had happened to the others.

I read the book in record time and part of that is because the writing is so light.  Although it is confusing at times in my opinion, I found it very enjoyable and I was able to read the book so quickly that I did it in a single weekend.

 All in all, a good book to read quickly with a good construction.
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Journey to Heart Stone started off interesting, with what sounded like a ritual or celebration related to one, but then just quit. I was confused when it went in a totally different direction and kept this type of pace and format throughout.

The writing is also very young. This isn't supposed to be for young readers but the main characters are written this way. I thought I was reading a YA at first and had to double check who this was targeted for. I don't mind YA at all, but when a book is supposed to be for adults it throws me off when it's not written that way.

I thought the premise for this one was very creative, but it wasn't fleshed out well. There is a lot of info-dumping and overly done descriptions which could have been better used for the story itself. It almost felt like filler sentences to extend the book as a whole.

I enjoyed the idea of old religion, female leads and a story about Goddess worship, but Journey to the Heart Stone didn't really come through for me in the end.

I sincerely appreciate the publisher and Books Forward for the review copy. While a review wasn't expected, I have offered my opinion and these are my own thoughts.

2.5 Rounded to a 3
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I had to DNF this book after the first couple of chapters. The writing fell flat, and I couldn't get past adults calling the enemy "Evil V." It just felt a bit immature, which didn't match up with the novel.
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Why oh why are evil men always trying to overthrow the matriarchal societies? Can't they tell a good thing when they see it?  This is an emotional read that you're going to want to take you're time with, because you're going to want to feel all of it.  It took me a minute to get all of the main players straight and how they are connected to each other.  This is a character driven novel and you really feel for Cora and are invested in her story from the beginning of the book until the end.
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I enjoyed this book. A gentler fantasy, basic save the world from the evil king, a bit of the land is dying with the wrong person on the throne vibe.  Each chapter was from one of the many characters view points. That can be a plus or minus for me, in this way the various points of view were sufficiently separate that I could follow along easily with the switches.

 I loved the lore/religion of the setting - a religion centered on the Goddess with each of the three tribes in the world focused on different gifts - great. The prayers/poems/songs throughout were nice and not ones I simply skipped over.

Overall it felt rushed, especially the last quarter or so. I believe the author could have taken some time expanding out the climax of the story and the tying up of loose ends. It was very fast paced, which can be great, but not if it feels like I'm rushing to the end of the story and just trying to get past the parts of the plot the author wasn't sure how to write.

Overall a fun book, glad I read it.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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2.5 stars

This book starts out with a rough info dump, yet that somehow didn’t even seem like enough of a backstory. I felt like I was constantly behind the story unable to keep up with what was happening. The dialogue seemed odd and also threw me out of the story. The main character reads more like a YA protagonist not a 37 year old. If you like a real slow burn cottage-cozy, character driven story you may find this interesting, but it wasn’t for me.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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*I was kindly sent an ARC by the Publisher **Sparkpress** in exchange for an honest review*

# General Thoughts

Journey to the Heart Stone is a cozy cottage core story that is primarily about the emotions it makes you feel. A big chunk of the book consists of travelling through atmospheric sceneries and exploring friendships. It is a relatively short book with around 250 pages, so there really is not a lot of space to fit worldbuilding and character work to a satisfying degree. Nevertheless this IS a mostly characterdriven story with almost no real plot until the 70% mark which unfortunately doesn’t fit my taste in reading since I prefer more plot and a faster pace in my books. That said, it still is a very cozy read that I would definitely recommend for a misty fall afternoon. 

# Summary

Cora is a 37 year old woman whose husband died before the story begins. She’s also the chief of one of three main tribes in this world with the honorary title of “Mother Minca” and exiled from her tribe by her powerhungry uncle who initiated a war between the tribes. After having a vision sent by the goddess of how to achieve peace and learning of her own pregnancy, Cora sends her brother Steff and her trusted friend Dov off to contact the leader of the other two tribes to meet at the legendary heart stone and reunite their people. Most of the rest of the story we are following Cora, Steff and Dov on their journeys until the big battle at the end. 

# Characters

Unfortunately the author resorts to info-dumping when describing characters instead of giving the information organically to the reader. Also in some instances the character descriptions didn’t really fit the way the characters present themselves to the reader. For example, our POV Cora is said to be 37 but reads a lot younger - I would have believed her to be in her early 20s if not suggested otherwise. Other than that characters are likeable and make rational decisions while still having their faults. Still, I did not really care about what happened to them as the story moved along.

# Worlbuilding

Again, in such a short story there’s not enough time to make a deep dive into worldbuilding but while still touching a bit on info-dumping, the author managed to paint a more vibrant picture of the world and landscape for me than she did with her characters. For me, the tribes and their individual skills that border on magic were the most fascinating part of this book. 

# Plot

I feel like the stakes were supposed to be high and pull the reader in but I never felt nervous or on the edge of my seat - it was always clear that all would be well in the end. Even though one turn of events towards the end should have been shocking but again I didn’t really care. 

As I said, this is mostly a slow paced story that has a comfortable, homey feeling to it and takes the reader on a journey.

# Final Thoughts

If you are looking for something to break the cycle of thrilling, adventurous epic fantasy or just want a book to relax with on a cool, rainy day, this is the book for you.
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Journey To The Heart of Stone is a story about a journey to bring peace back to the land by trying to reconnect the tribes .

This story is told through multiple points of views , particularly focusing on Cora and her brother . The chapters were easy to read and not overwhelming .
I like that the cast of characters were in their thirties and older, but the writing style and events in it probably wouldn’t appeal to those in their twenties or younger .

I admit that this one didn’t kept my attention great but it was still worth finishing it out . 

The ending was nice and I liked that surprise  on Steff’s friend .
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Thank you NetGalley for a chance to read Journey to the Heart Stone.

I loved this book. I was hooked from the beginning and loved the authors writing style. This book is intense and the world building is amazing. I can’t wait to read more from this author.
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Journey to the Heart stone is a good story.    It's a nice book with good characters, some magic, and a quest.
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This was super impressive considering its Catherine Raphael's debut novel!! I really enjoy this story and getting to know the three tribes. Definitely want more from this author!!
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One word - intense.

Everything is intense when it comes to the characters, the writing, the plot, the emotions and ultimately the one reading this book till the end.

Everything is perfect! If you are someone who's always looking for an emotional read with some unique elements about the characters and the world they are in, this one will serve you well and good.

The book starts really strong. However, I would suggest you to take your time with the subsequent chapters and try to absorb the emotions of the characters, specially our main character, Cora.

It's about the fight for power; to rule and who would be most able to handle the loss of balance and peace amongst the Minca, Carroo and Dute tribe communities.

A fight for a cause. A young woman trying to restore peace and harmony back within the communities as before. A strong, greedy enemy who's blood to fight against. A strong will to protect the unborn child. 

It's war!

And struggle

And suffering.

I am totally satisfied with the ending. 

Character development is good and I am expecting a sequel. Am I asking too much?! 

Read this book for yourself. It's fast paced with good sentence structure and short sentences. You will inhale this book in no time.

Thank you, SparkPress, for the advance reading copy.


The book waste no time at the beginning getting straight into your heart and mind directly making you see what you're in for: grieving characters, suffering main character and yes, easy to read writing style. I just appreciate these all. 

Reading the blurb will not spoil anything for anyone. It's just like the introduction to the characters and the story you'd be getting invested in very soon.
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This had an interesting premise when I decided that I needed to read it. It has concepts of Wiccan culture, Indigenous values, and lots of value on family (good and bad). I loved the family values within each of the three tribes, and definitely is well worth reading for that. The main character’s uncle, Vestor, represents colonization and how it negatively impacts those that were there before. I like how this was portrayed, because it shows that this can be held back through a unification of peoples. It shows the divide that white values place upon the people that they oppress, and the oppressed have to want to unite for them to be defeated for the better. Thank you NetGalley and Spark Press for the review copy.
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This is a fantasy masterwork. I had to check to confirm it is, in fact, the author's  debut work. It's the world building and character creation of a first-class bard.

I was drawn in by some of the same feels I get from Priory of the Orange Tree and Black Sun. There's a distinct flavor of Midsummer Night's Dream. I even felt some of Raya and the Last Dragon and Horizon: Zero Dawn.

But oh this story is so much more!

The world is lush and deep. The characters are multi-faceted with lives and fears I felt personally! I cannot recommend this book highly enough! Please share it with every epic fantasy fan!

"I can fight.
I can think.
It's time for me to use these skills for a better purpose. I am done with sitting around waiting."
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ARC Copy...honest attempt at world building and tribal inner-play but I felt it was too light, couldn't feel the drama and narrative went without me "anchoring" at plot points.
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