Publishers Weekly, starred review, 2009
At the “midday hour” on the same stormy day, two remarkable musicians are born in an unnamed land. Mee, the singer of dirges, can see inside a person's soul; Mitou, an accordion player, is the finest “merrymaker.” Dutch author Stoffels makes an impressive American debut as she adopts the mannered language of fairy tales. Hearing of Mee, Mitou feels certain that she is destined to meet him; as she travels to find him, Mee and Mitou each encounter individuals in need of their respective services. These characters' stories, cleverly interlinked, play on timeless themes of love, loss and rejuvenation, but fold in idiosyncratic elements: a queen gives birth between courses at a banquet (her neglected child is doomed to stare nonstop at her reflection: “Somebody has to look at me.... And if nobody will, then I'll do it myself”). Stoffels's prose can be overwrought (“The sight of the waves causes me pain. Even the roar of the ocean stabs my heart”), but her characters, especially the women, have a ferocity that belies the possibly precious tone, and readers who like love stories will savor the imaginative details. Ages 12–up.

Kids Lit,Tasha Saecker, February 2009
Steeped in traditional fairy tales, this book offers a framing story and then a series of smaller stories that illuminate the many forms of that love can take.  A boy whose parents are deaf and dumb, becomes a gifted singer who can reveal a person’s life in his own mysterious language.  A girl whose parents fight and curse nearly all the time, plays music that has everyone dancing and feeling merry.  The two are destined to be together.  As they slowly journey toward one another, readers get to see a princess who looks only into the mirror, a sailor’s sweetheart who loves the sea she sees in her husband, and a fluting soldier who saves everyone he can.
Repetition, lilting phrases, and classic fairy tale characters keep this book closely tied to its tradition.  Readers will immediately recognize the type of book they are reading, but will be amazed at the lyrical prose, the lack of sentimentality, and the power of this small book.  Love here is seen not in saccharine sweetness, but in reality, sometimes obsessive, strangely brutal, and always powerful.
This book is a box of chocolates with hidden depths of spices and heat that surprise and delight.  Highly recommended for teens who want a bit of classic tale and truth in their romance.

Kirkus Reviews, starred review, 2009
Although born to deaf-mute parents, Mee develops a unique talent for singing. While his strange songs can calm the ocean’s waves, they fail to lift his widowed mother’s somber heart. To escape this memory, Mee heads east, becoming the singer of sorrows. Whether singing over the lieutenant, the farrier’s wife or the sailor’s sweetheart, he sees their lives and loves before him, eases their mourners’ grief, yet always remains alone. Heading west in search of Mee is Mitou, a girl born on the same day into a house of ceaseless insults. Using music to protect her from the “black-word plague,” she has become a traveling merrymaker. In search of this musical pair is Prince Viereg, who hopes their gifts can turn the depressed Princess Esperanza away from her mirrors and back toward the world again. Stoffels’s fresh Dutch voice, rendered fluidly and beautifully in Watkinson’s translation, weaves together traditional folktale elements to create an original, haunting story of love that is magical unto itself. Heartfelt through and through.

Teens read too, 4 stars, 2009
Heartsinger is one of those rare books that doesn’t fit the mold of one genre. Flowing more like a fairy tale, Ms. Stoffels creates a story that weaves multiple romances into one epic journey of Mee, the singer of sorrows.
Born of deaf-mute parents, Mee was always called “You,” “Boy” or “You There.” So when the local school master arrives to take him to school, when asked his name, he responds that he is me, and thus, “Mee” becomes his name.   
He excels at school, but music is his gift.  He is able to create such haunting music that everyone stops to listen when they hear his song.
But after his father dies, and his mother grows ill, Mee does all he can to relieve his mother’s suffering.  Unable to hear his song, she nods sadly and passes away.  After her death, Mee can not remain in the house that reminds him of
his inability to heal his mother.
Mee sets off on a journey that takes him to many villages and distant lands.  He is sought after by all as the singer of sorrows.  He helps ease the pain of those in mourning. The book shares his different encounters and their sad stories. On the same day as Mee’s birth, another gifted musician, Mitou, has heard of Mee’s fame and seeks him out. She is the opposite of Mee, singing of color and happiness. Traveling from the opposite direction, she is sure she will find him.
The two are then asked to travel across the water to the island kingdom.  There, Princess Esperanza sits forever staring in a mirror.  Denying a prince her hand in marriage, she eats, sleeps, and lives in front of her mirror.  Growing up in a house where she was left to her own devices, it is up to Mee and Mitou to break the mirror’s spell.
Translated into English, Heartsinger is a moving tale of love and loss. The intertwined stories that help tell of Mee’s travels are touching and sweet.  The story moves quickly, leading up to Mee’s search for himself.

Booklist, Carolyn Phelan, 2009
Set in a land that seems to combine preindustrial Europe with folkloric elements, the several narratives in this book focus on individuals whose paths cross along the way. First there is Mee, an orphaned young man with a powerful gift of song that comforts those in mourning, though he himself seems incurably stricken by sorrow. Born on the same day, Mitou magically gladdens every heart with her music.
Meanwhile, over many years, sad Princess Esperanza refuses to turn her gaze from the mirror, and in a nearby port town, a sailor’s wife adjusts and readjusts to her lot. First published in the Netherlands, the novel is written with clarity and grace. The characters are sometimes enigmatic, but the stories play out in ways that seem inevitable as well as satisfying. The eye-catching cover photo looks more contemporary than the actual setting. Still, this unusual novel offers readers limpid writing, strong storytelling, and the unblinking recognition of love in many forms.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 2009
In this fantasy imported from the Netherlands, a young boy with deaf parents develops a gift for song, a neglected princess pines for recognition, and a young girl escapes the ugly bickering of her parents through the cheerful sounds of her own accordion. Mee, the boy, despairs that he cannot make his mother happy with his songs after the death of his father; after she too dies, he travels the land, sharing his gift for singing the sorrows of the dying. He meets many sad folk along the way, and his songs transport them through their grief to a happiness that he himself cannot achieve. Mitou, the accordion player, knows that she and Mee are destined to be together, but her merry sounds offend Mee, until he heals the princess Esperanza by finally giving her the recognition she desires and assuages his own sorrow in the process. The plot works through a series of lyrical, interconnected stories that trace various kinds of love and sacrifice among people in a quasi-medieval fairy-tale landscape. Each story carries its own version of heartbreak and redemption, and the book brings overarching themes of appreciating life in all of its complexities of joy and sorrow and valuing people for who they are rather than rejecting them for not living up to our expectations. This thematic wisdom is communicated with a light touch in a variety of contexts, and readers who enjoy literary fairy tales will be charmed by this offering.