“The search for love resonates throughout this fiercely imaginative epic.... Meltz sustains a rhapsodic tone that embraces both the sacred and the decidedly profane… Sometimes gushing, frequently heart-tugging, and always gripping... this tale will reward the reader with a pantheistic glimpse of destruction, rebirth, and the tantalizing nature of desire and union.”
– Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Named Lonely by the wind, a princess descends from her island tower to search for the prince who never showed up.
Lonely embodies the forgotten ideals of a harsh, soulless City, whose people have lost touch with real food, the cycles of life and death, and their own hearts. Her father, a sad, misguided god-man who placed her in the tower long ago, created this mechanized illusion of paradise to conceal his own loneliness. But she doesn’t know that yet.
Carried by a strangely loyal horse with a secret identity, Lonely travels the wild places the City has denied. Brand new to the world, she learns from each creature, plant, and element. She also unwittingly breaks open the heart of everyone she meets: a fierce, seductive huntress, a dragon god wrestling with his own primeval lust, a polluted river goddess, a forgotten rain god, a wounded child who gave her soul away in the form of a mythical being, and a family of mountain farmers torn apart from within by unspoken longings.
This transformative, erotic quest of awakening carries Lonely first through the trickster Fire realm, a sensual golden desert haunted by a god-man’s desire and a warrior-woman’s fury. Next comes the deep-forest Earth realm of the mountains, where Lonely discovers the pleasures of hunger and fulfillment, family and home. While the City tosses restlessly in its sleep, barely aware of what it has lost, Lonely begins, through her own strangely peopled journey, to become a real human being. But now she discovers that love, something a witch cursed her to find within thirteen moons or else be imprisoned beneath the island forever, is a mysterious question that no one truly understands.
At last, in the Air realm of ghosts above the clouds, Lonely seeks the bitter heart of her prince, a dream god whose people shape-shifted into spirit animals when her father destroyed their mystical swamplands to build the City. Together, the lovers attempt to heal the wounds of the world in a Council of Beings. But the ancestral pain within their own hearts pulls them inexorably apart, until they fall backward alone into the Water realm, where powerful emotions become magic in the ancient river that returns them to the Heart of the World. There, Lonely must face the madness that dwells beneath her tower, and the truth it hides about herself, the witch, and the sacred link between the City’s salvation and her own.
Meanwhile, the winds are stirring, the earth is shaking in longing for the forgotten rains, and the sea is restless with spirits long silenced. In journeys entwined through dreams and elemental forces, Lonely and all the gods and humans she has met must seek out and face the love, the darkness, and the divinity they’ve denied, in order to weave back together the broken strands of this world and save the City from cataclysmic self-destruction.
Unusual among fairy tales for its strong, leading heroines and focus on personal transformation, illustrated with hand-drawn illuminated lettering and calligraphy—this allegorical myth was written as a call for healing and reconnection between humanity and our living planet.
“Humanity’s disconnect from nature—as well as meditations on fear, love, loneliness, loss, and identity—are packed into this sweeping epic… Meltz delights in upending the conventions of fairy tales, even as she pushes the boundaries of the genre in new ways…“
- Jill Allen, ForeWord Reviews
“An epic saga of the first order, "Lonely In The Heart Of The World" establishes author Mindi Meltz as an outstanding literary talent…”
- Midwest Book Review
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