Heartwood Box

Heartwood Box

A dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge and plenty of drama, layering the secrets we keep and how appearances can deceive, from the New York Times bestselling author.In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found. When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to live with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She'll buckle do...

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Title:Heartwood Box
Author:Ann Aguirre
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Heartwood Box Reviews

  • Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader

    I read Like Never and Always last year and didn't think it could get weirder than that.  But Heartwood Box might have beat it for me.  Ann Aguirre writes the strangest books and I really like how her mind works.

    This book is such a mix of genres.  It has a mystery, it's a thriller at times, there is some sci fi, some historical fiction, ghost story, and some romance.  I'll do my best to write what I can without giving anything away.

    Araceli moves in with her great aunt for her senior year.  She us

    I read Like Never and Always last year and didn't think it could get weirder than that.  But Heartwood Box might have beat it for me.  Ann Aguirre writes the strangest books and I really like how her mind works.

    This book is such a mix of genres.  It has a mystery, it's a thriller at times, there is some sci fi, some historical fiction, ghost story, and some romance.  I'll do my best to write what I can without giving anything away.

    Araceli moves in with her great aunt for her senior year.  She usually travels with her parents, but they're going to Venezuela and they want Araceli safe.  They also think it will help her to go to college in the US.  Things are odd right away.  Araceli's aunt, Ottilie, is living in a very old fashioned house.  Stepping into it felt like stepping back in time.  Everything is old and a bit run down.  Ottilie's husband disappeared twenty years earlier.  She stays with the hopes that he'll come home.  Ottilie feels like he's near and even leaves food out for him every night.  Araceli quickly realizes that the house is strange and may be haunted.  There are cold spots and a light turns on by itself.  

    It turns out that the town is full of missing posters.  People have been disappearing for about twenty years, never to be seen again.  The warning is to stay away from the ghost lights in the woods.  Never follow them or you won't come back.  

    Araceli finds a box at her Aunt's with an old letter hidden in the bottom.  It was written pre world one by a boy named Oliver.  On her first day of school, Araceli is given an assignment to write a letter to someone.  She decides to write to Oliver and places the letter in the box.  When she goes to get it out in the morning, it's gone.  Later, a new letter appears from Oliver.  He replied to her.  At first, Araceli thinks someone is playing a joke.  But she starts having weird dreams of a boy she knows is Oliver.  He is the only one that can see her in the dreams.  Araceli and Oliver continue to write while Araceli decides to research more about WW1.  

    When Araceli's friend disappears, she decides to take action.  Araceli believes this research compound is involved, but she needs to find a way in.  Her friend and neighbor, Logan, helps her get close and she sees how secure it is.  In fact, they are chased away by security.  This is when Araceli realizes that these people will kill to keep their secrets.

    I loved the group of friends and Araceli's aunt.  Logan was a favorite of mine.  So much happens after this that I can't mention, but it was fast paced and hard to put down.  While there were some issues with the older communication (it didn't always feel authentic), the author explains why she used less slang in the author's note.  

    I gave this book 4  1/2 stars (rounded up to 5).  Thank you to Tor Teen for sending me a copy for review.

    Warnings for parental abuse, racism, and unknown disappearances, even of young children.  

  • Christy

    Ann consistently writes stories that are unputdownable, timely, and leave me waiting for her next book. Heartwood Box has the cover from a 90s horror/thriller and one of the most unique sci-fi mystery within. Absolutely loved this.

  • Marta Cox

    This book was most definitely a surprise. The author clearly decided to mess with her readers heads and mix more than one genre here so if it’s YA paranormal mixed with time travel and suspense that intrigues you then pick this up. The author herself has likened it to Stranger Things meets the Lake House and I couldn’t agree more.

    The story revolves around Araceli a young mixed race girl staying with her aunt in a town where people keep disappearing . The mystery apparently involves strange ligh

    This book was most definitely a surprise. The author clearly decided to mess with her readers heads and mix more than one genre here so if it’s YA paranormal mixed with time travel and suspense that intrigues you then pick this up. The author herself has likened it to Stranger Things meets the Lake House and I couldn’t agree more.

    The story revolves around Araceli a young mixed race girl staying with her aunt in a town where people keep disappearing . The mystery apparently involves strange lights in the woods but there’s also a creepy vibe in the aunts house so when a friend is ‘taken’ Araceli isn’t going to ignore it . Now here is when the author tricks us as she has also introduced a mysterious box that enables Araceli to communicate with a First World War soldier. See what I mean ? This book is a puzzle for the reader to solve with elements of the Philadelphia experiment alongside our intrepid heroine pitting herself against secretive and dangerous military types. Araceli most definitely leads the charge but the supporting characters just never really felt fleshed out to me. Plus the surprise at the end didn’t really feel right to my mind but I did like that everything got wrapped up neatly.

    This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair

  • Shelley

    *Source* Publisher

    *Genre* Young Adult, Thriller, Science Fiction

    *Rating* 3.0

    *Thoughts*

    Ann Aguirre's Heartwood Box is a cross between fantasy, and science fiction, and speculation. Thanks to her parents spending time in Venezuela covering a story, because why not? Araceli Flores Harper is sent to her great-Aunt Ottilie's home on Long Island to spend the summer before she attends her final year of High School. Ottilie's husband disappeared 20 years ago. She still lives in the run down Victorian ho

    *Source* Publisher

    *Genre* Young Adult, Thriller, Science Fiction

    *Rating* 3.0

    *Thoughts*

    Ann Aguirre's Heartwood Box is a cross between fantasy, and science fiction, and speculation. Thanks to her parents spending time in Venezuela covering a story, because why not? Araceli Flores Harper is sent to her great-Aunt Ottilie's home on Long Island to spend the summer before she attends her final year of High School. Ottilie's husband disappeared 20 years ago. She still lives in the run down Victorian home she's always lived in. But, that's not the real story.

    *Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*

  • Caryn {iam.caryn}

    Aguirre herself tweeted that Heartwood Box is “Stranger Things meets The Lake House”. There’s really no better way to explain this book.

    I previously read Aguirre’s book

    and I believe that it was the better book that I’ve read by her. My enjoyment of that book was why I was interested in reading this one. While

    has an interesting premise, the execution wasn’t what I had hoped for.

    There were many instances when the conversational scenes were slopp

    Aguirre herself tweeted that Heartwood Box is “Stranger Things meets The Lake House”. There’s really no better way to explain this book.

    I previously read Aguirre’s book

    and I believe that it was the better book that I’ve read by her. My enjoyment of that book was why I was interested in reading this one. While

    has an interesting premise, the execution wasn’t what I had hoped for.

    There were many instances when the conversational scenes were sloppy and lacked depth and connection. I’ll be honest, if this had just been a regular contemporary I would have DNFed it. But the mystery and the weirdness had me hooked enough that I had to find out what was going on.

    But even saying that, all of the different oddities left the story feeling diffuse. Is it a contemporary book? Is it a sci-fi book? Is it a time travel book? Is it a mystery book? Sometimes having your book consist of so many different aspects can make it wonderful and wildly entertaining. But it just didn’t work here. It left me feeling disjointed by the lack of flow for 75% of the book.

    But the last 25% was where the book got good. Lots of action, explanations and heart. All of the oddness finally came together to fit and make sense. It was what I had been expecting and made me wish the whole book had been that enjoyable. It was the saving grace of the book really, and made it worth the read after all.

  • Olivia & Lori (The Candid Cover)

    3.5 Stars

    Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre is a book that I picked up unsure of what to expect. It is thrilling and mysterious, and it blends multiple genres to create something that I have never seen before. I enjoyed the main character and her determination to makes things right in her new town, however the ending didn’t work out for me, and it impacted my enjoyment of the book. This is still a fantastic read, but I would have enjoyed a different outcome.

    This book tak

    3.5 Stars

    Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre is a book that I picked up unsure of what to expect. It is thrilling and mysterious, and it blends multiple genres to create something that I have never seen before. I enjoyed the main character and her determination to makes things right in her new town, however the ending didn’t work out for me, and it impacted my enjoyment of the book. This is still a fantastic read, but I would have enjoyed a different outcome.

    This book takes place in a mysterious town in which people suddenly disappear. The main character finds a wooden box with a letter inside and decides to write back as part of a school assignment, but she ends up receiving a reply from a boy named Oliver. As it turns out, Oliver is a soldier in World War I. I enjoyed how the book is a mix of genres, from contemporary to sci fi to thriller. As well, it is fast paced, and the writing style is very suspenseful. This is such a gripping read that I had trouble putting down.

    ❀ CAPTIVATING MAIN CHARACTER

    Araceli is an enjoyable character, and I liked how she is always willing to take action. She is brave and truly wants the best for people, and she uses her communication link to the past to help out the soldiers. For instance, she is able to send battle information which in turn saves the lives of many. As well, I found Araceli’s voice to be captivating and realistic for her age, which is an important aspect for me. Ultimately, I found her character to be likeable and believable.

    ❀ DRAMATIC ENDING

    To me, this book would have been around 4 stars, or even 4.5, but the ending didn’t satisfy me at all. I can’t go into details without spoiling, but the way the romance works out and the whole multi-generational thing take a wild turn. I appreciate the efforts made to tie everything together, and I can see some people enjoying the end, however, I was a little bit uncomfortable with the result. Normally, the ending of a book wouldn’t influence my opinion too much, but this case was quite dramatic.

    Heartwood Box is a unique story that blends multiple genres. I loved the concept as well as the main character, but the ending frustrated me and heavily impacted my overall enjoyment of the book. I would still recommend this one to those who are looking for a mysterious and fresh novel.

  • Stacee

    I loved everything about this cover and synopsis and I’m pretty much here for everything Ann writes.

    I think I liked Araceli? She’s a little rough around the edges, but for the most part I liked being in her head. She’s sarcastic and strong. There are a lot of characters in this story and I’m not sure if that’s good or not. No one really felt fleshed out...if that was on purpose to show how Araceli was an outsider, it was effective.

    Plot wise, it okay. There are loads of moving parts and plot th

    I loved everything about this cover and synopsis and I’m pretty much here for everything Ann writes.

    I think I liked Araceli? She’s a little rough around the edges, but for the most part I liked being in her head. She’s sarcastic and strong. There are a lot of characters in this story and I’m not sure if that’s good or not. No one really felt fleshed out...if that was on purpose to show how Araceli was an outsider, it was effective.

    Plot wise, it okay. There are loads of moving parts and plot threads and it was overwhelming and a little boring at the same time. I was intrigued by the story, but never really captivated.

    Overall, it was an interesting idea, but it felt like there was too much of something and not enough of something else.

    **Huge thanks to Tor Teen for providing the arc free of charge**

  • The Nerd Daily

    | Review by Laura Erne

    “This is where hope goes to die.”

    I knew after just one sentence that this book was going to be good. It kicks off with the main character, Araceli, and her perspective is hilariously pessimistic. Her clearly sarcastic observations help lighten the very dark things that seem to happen in this new yet, seemingly old town.

    “I like them all more when they accept that without asking a lot of questions. If we click, I’ll tell them about my life,

    | Review by Laura Erne

    “This is where hope goes to die.”

    I knew after just one sentence that this book was going to be good. It kicks off with the main character, Araceli, and her perspective is hilariously pessimistic. Her clearly sarcastic observations help lighten the very dark things that seem to happen in this new yet, seemingly old town.

    “I like them all more when they accept that without asking a lot of questions. If we click, I’ll tell them about my life, but I hate giving personal details for no other reason than to satisfy the curiosity of strangers. Any info I divulge should come by choice.”

    This is coming from a teenager and sometimes I seemed to forget that while I was reading because she’s so grown up. She thinks with years of experience that she can’t possibly have, which makes her wise and smart. Both Araceli’s thoughts and dialogue seemed to suit that of a teenager, but in her case, she lacked the naiveté usually associated with someone young. She was hilarious to read and everything seemed to flow very naturally. Her nature and demeanour seemed really relatable too which is always a great quality in a main character as it helps incorporate yourself as the reader in their story. Brilliant!

    This girl swears like a sailor too. Cliché I know, but it worked since she’s a teenager and most swear. Ann Aguirre used it to create extremely impressive, conversational tones in the main character. I think this really elevated something that could have been just mediocre to something great with substance! I like how she wasn’t afraid to add swear words because it is a YA novel. I found it more genuine because she swore and it added to the authenticity of the whole piece. They weren’t thrown in there just to be edgy either, they had a purpose and that helped establish the main character. Bravo!

    I am a history buff so when I found out that Aguirre incorporated elements that included a cute and nervous soldier who doubles as a love interest from WWI, she had me sold. I kept reading on and on just to find out what would happen. It got quite addictive! And, if I must say, his scenes and nervous flirting were adorable! The way they spoke in the early 1900’s was definitely a swoon-worthy touch.

    For the longest time I thought the romance in here was flat. It seemed like the main character wasn’t interested in any entanglement, which made sense as her life was just upheaved and chucked into a new environment. But then the romance seemed to come to her making it feel a little unlikely. First with the Heartwood box, transporting her to Oliver in the amidst of World War I and then again with the prankster schoolmate, Logan, who she meets at her new school. I hated how much she brushed off Logan with disinterest and I didn’t really get it because her fixation on Oliver seemed really unrealistic (which it was) but it didn’t stop her falling head over heels for him. I came to like him too and didn’t care that it wouldn’t make for a happy ending but that did make me dread finishing the book because now I was hooked on a relationship that couldn’t work.

    All that being said, I finished the book having not thrown it across the room in anger or left it damp with tears. I think with the concept Ann Aguirre posed for this story set her up for a hard finish and I think all things considered, she did a marvellous job. It kept fans for both love interests (in my opinion) happy and the mix of mystery and science fiction came to a satisfying conclusion where all your questions seemed to be answered.

    “I’ll end up as a legendary cat lady with twenty-seven felines who eat me after I die.”

    Oops, did I forget that this was also filled with hilarious one liners like this one?

    This is definitely a book to get you out of a reading slump, the unfortunate downside to reading. I was worried at first about not liking this, but I think the very addition of the sci-fi-esque elements created an illusion to the mystery behind the town that fit with the plot. It didn’t leave the story with words I couldn’t pronounce or the heaviness of knowledge associated with science that would leave you confused and then feeling stupid. It was a light, fluffy novel that took a multitude of genres that entice a variety of readers and I think it was executed very well!

    I give it a 7/10 only because the romance made me a bit angry at times and the predictability of the town and the strange occurrences was a little disappointing in terms of a wow factor. Don’t get me wrong though, this was a great book and I look forward to reading more by Ann Aguirre because her writing and ability to create incredible thought and dialogue to her main character made this book flow well and that’s a good thing. There were hints of Outlander, dashes of Wayward Pines and creepy, eerie feelings that remind me of the movies, Boy and Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us.

    I definitely recommend this to anyone who has an interest in history, lovers of romance, geeks who love science fiction, and of course to all you scaredy cats who love all things thriller/horror. This book had it all and I think there’s something for everyone here, so try it out! It might just be the thing to help you out of your slump!

  • Jessica Ryan

    I will be 100% honest. I bought this book because of the cover and because the description promised some major creep-factors. The plot starts off strong, setting up a small town with way too many missing people and a seemingly haunted, aging house, but everything that comes after falls flat. The story takes a long time to get going, and it turns into more of a love story than anything else. The secret lab and time travel aspect remind me a bit of Stranger Things, but with less interesting charac

    I will be 100% honest. I bought this book because of the cover and because the description promised some major creep-factors. The plot starts off strong, setting up a small town with way too many missing people and a seemingly haunted, aging house, but everything that comes after falls flat. The story takes a long time to get going, and it turns into more of a love story than anything else. The secret lab and time travel aspect remind me a bit of Stranger Things, but with less interesting characters and stakes. It is also hard to get onboard with these teens because a lot of what they say sounds scripted - like the characters have been told what to say... Two stars for trying to do something out of the ordinary, but not quite reaching the fullest potential.

    Side note: One of my biggest pet peeves is when covers do not accurately represent the book, and I feel totally duped by the cover.

  • Candace Robinson

    I really liked the author’s Razorland series but I just couldn’t get into this one. Maybe because I don’t read a lot of mystery stuff? But her writing was just as good as her other books!

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