Heart of the Impaler
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: December 7th 2021
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
Alexander Delacroix’s darkly romantic debut Heart of the Impaler is perfect for fans of Kiersten White’s And I Darken.
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.
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***Top Ten Places I Would Like to Visit***
I’ve never been to Romania, the setting for Heart of the Impaler and Vlad Dracula’s ancestral home, but if I’m ever fortunate enough to travel there, these are the Top 10 places I would like to visit:
- Sighisoara. This picturesque Transylvanian town was Dracula’s birthplace and remained his home from 1431 until 1437. In Heart of the Impaler this is also Ilona’s home until her family is expelled from Transylvania.
- The Curtea Domneasca. The ruins of the Curtea Domneasca, or Princely Court, are located in Targoviste, the capital of 15th century Wallachia. Vlad grew up here and eventually ruled here.
- Manastirea Dealu. This 15th century monastery is located in the hills a few miles northeast of Targoviste. Vlad’s father and several other Wallachian princes are buried here.
- Bran Castle. Referred to by many as “Dracula’s Castle,” this beautiful Transylvanian fortress is purported by some to have served as Bram Stoker’s inspiration for the castle in his famous novel. Although the real Dracula didn’t reign here, he did spend two months in the castle as a prisoner. It’s a major destination for anyone interested in the historical Dracula.
- Hoia Baciu Forest. This forest near Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania has nothing to do with my novel but is known for its beautiful, twisted, moss-covered trees. It is also a source of local rumors about hauntings and other strange paranormal activities.
- Corvin Castle. To enter this imposing fortress, visitors cross a moat on a high wooden bridge. The castle is known for its soaring towers, marble halls, and Gothic architecture. It’s featured on several lists as one of Romania’s “Seven Wonders,” and was the home of Janos Hunyadi who played a prominent role in 15th century Romanian politics.
- Poenari Castle. Now in ruins, this ancient fortress is considered by some to be the real Dracula’s Castle. It’s a must-see destination for Dracula fans. It’s said that Dracula, after impaling the boyars who had been disloyal to his father, marched their families to this site and used their forced labor to build the castle.
- The Danube Delta. No trip to Romania would be complete without a trip to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of its famous pelicans. If you’re extremely lucky, you might make a now rare flamingo sighting.
- The Painted Monasteries. Located in Bucovina in northern Romania, these unique buildings are treasures of Byzantine art. Detailed frescoes, both inside and out, present biblical stories in a vivid and visually stunning format.
- Bucharest. Little more than a small village in Dracula’s time, Bucharest has now replaced Targoviste as Wallachia’s capital. It’s the most populated city in Romania. It’s also home to the Parliament Palace, the 2nd largest building in the world, and — more importantly — it’s home to the Curtea Veche (Old Princely Court), a fortress residence Vlad built for himself during his reign.
Alexander Delacroix earned Masters degrees from Brigham Young University and Western Governors University. As an undergraduate he majored in French, Russian, and German but ultimately became a Language Arts teacher. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing. Heart of the Impaler is his debut novel.