Heartless Hunter Summary, Characters and Themes

In Kristen Ciccarelli’s “Heartless Hunter,” witches are hunted in the New Republic. Rune Winters, secretly the vigilante Crimson Moth, rescues witches from execution. Gideon Sharpe, a Blood Guard captain with a dark past, vows to eliminate all witches, including the Crimson Moth. 

The story intertwines the perspectives of Rune and Gideon in a dangerous game of deception, where the line between hunter and hunted blurs.


In a world where the New Republic executes witches, Rune Winters leads a double life. By day, she plays the vapid socialite, but at night, she transforms into the Crimson Moth, a vigilante rescuing witches from their fate. Her secret mission is fueled by the guilt of turning in her own grandmother, a witch, to the regime.

Gideon Sharpe, a captain in the Blood Guard and the brother of Rune’s former best friend, is determined to eliminate all witches. Driven by a traumatic past involving a witch named Cressida, he believes they are all evil. 

When Gideon suspects Rune’s involvement with the Crimson Moth, he infiltrates her life, pretending to court her in hopes of uncovering her secret.

Their relationship becomes a complex dance of deception and growing attraction. Rune uses Gideon’s interest to her advantage, gathering information to aid her rescues, while Gideon searches for evidence of her witchcraft. 

But as they get closer, their feelings for each other complicate their missions.

When Rune attempts to save a powerful witch, Seraphine, she walks into a trap set by Gideon. She narrowly escapes, fueling Gideon’s suspicions further. Rune’s true identity is almost exposed at a high-profile dinner, but she manages to maintain her facade.

Meanwhile, Rune’s growing understanding of Gideon’s past softens her perception of him. She learns of his tragic history with Cressida, who killed his family and manipulated him. 

This revelation sheds light on his hatred for witches, creating a conflict within Rune between her feelings for him and her mission to protect her kind.

Rune, with the help of her allies, plans a daring prison break for Seraphine. But Gideon discovers her secret, leading to a confrontation and her arrest. However, the execution is interrupted by an army of witches, led by a shocking figure—Cressida, alive and vengeful. 

In the ensuing chaos, Gideon’s brother sacrifices himself to save him, and Rune and the witches escape to a safe haven.

Heartbroken and determined, Gideon vows to continue hunting Rune, setting the stage for a thrilling continuation of their story in the next installment of The Crimson Moth series.

Heartless Hunter Summary


Rune Winters

Rune Winters, the protagonist, is a complex character navigating a perilous double life. By day, she is a wealthy socialite, and by night, she becomes the Crimson Moth, a vigilante dedicated to rescuing witches from execution. 

Her motivations stem from a deep sense of guilt over betraying her grandmother, Nan, to the New Republic, which has led her to risk everything to save others. Rune’s cunning and resourcefulness are evident in how she gathers intelligence at social events and orchestrates daring rescues. 

Despite the constant danger, Rune maintains a compassionate and determined nature. Her use of menstrual blood for casting spells cleverly conceals her identity, showcasing her ingenuity. 

The emotional complexity of Rune’s character deepens as she grapples with her feelings for Gideon, the witch hunter she should despise, and her loyalty to her friends and fellow witches.

Gideon Sharpe

Gideon Sharpe is a captain in the Blood Guard, driven by a personal vendetta against witches due to a traumatic past. His complex relationship with witches is rooted in his tragic experience with Cressida Roseblood, a witch he once loved who ultimately betrayed and tortured him. 

This betrayal fuels his determination to eradicate all witches, viewing them as a fundamental threat to society. Gideon’s character is marked by a strict adherence to duty and a deep-seated need for justice, which often puts him at odds with his emerging feelings for Rune. 

His inner conflict becomes more pronounced as he uncovers Rune’s true identity and wrestles with the betrayal of his brother Alex, who secretly aids Rune. 

Gideon’s journey is one of grappling with his hatred, his duty, and his unexpected compassion for Rune.

Alex Sharpe

Alex Sharpe is Gideon’s brother and a pivotal character in Rune’s life. He is characterized by his loyalty, bravery, and deep affection for Rune, whom he secretly loves. 

Alex’s protective nature is highlighted by his decision to shield Rune from the authorities when he discovers her witch identity and his active role in assisting her as the Crimson Moth. 

Unlike his brother, Alex harbors a more compassionate view towards witches, influenced by his close bond with Rune and his disillusionment with the New Republic’s brutal policies. 

His character arc reaches a tragic culmination when he sacrifices himself to save Gideon, illustrating his profound sense of love and duty.

Verity de Wilde

Verity de Wilde is a close friend of Rune and Alex, and a key ally in their mission to save witches. 

Her involvement in their clandestine activities showcases her courage and loyalty. Verity’s character takes a dramatic turn when it is revealed that she is actually Cressida Roseblood in disguise. This revelation adds a layer of complexity to her actions and motivations. 

As Cressida, she embodies both ruthlessness and strategic brilliance, orchestrating large-scale plans to protect witches while manipulating those around her. 

Verity/Cressida’s dual identity brings tension and unpredictability to the narrative, as her true intentions and past cruelties are gradually uncovered.

Seraphine Oakes

Seraphine Oakes is a powerful witch and a key figure in the witch community. Her capture by the Blood Guard sets off a series of events that drive the plot forward. 

As Nan’s oldest friend, Seraphine’s fate is deeply personal to Rune, motivating her to undertake risky rescue missions. Seraphine represents the strength and resilience of the witch community, embodying the hope and desperation of those oppressed by the New Republic. 

Her character’s importance is underscored by her central role in the climactic events at the Luminaries Dinner and her subsequent rescue.

Cressida Roseblood

Cressida Roseblood, initially introduced through Gideon’s traumatic memories, is later revealed to be alive and operating under the guise of Verity de Wilde. Cressida is a formidable antagonist whose actions and manipulations have far-reaching consequences. 

Her cruel and vengeful nature is rooted in her past interactions with Gideon, where she inflicted severe emotional and physical pain on him. As the leader of the witch rebellion, Cressida is ruthless in her tactics, willing to sacrifice many to achieve her goals. 

Her character adds a layer of moral ambiguity to the story, as her fight against the New Republic’s tyranny is contrasted with her own brutal methods.

Noah Creed

Noah Creed plays a minor but crucial role in the narrative. As the son of a prison warden, his social standing and connections provide Rune, Alex, and Verity with access to critical information and resources needed for their rescue missions. 

Noah’s character represents the privileged class in the New Republic, oblivious to the plight of witches but essential to the resistance’s success. 

His interactions with the main characters highlight the stark differences in their worlds and the lengths to which Rune and her allies must go to infiltrate and gather intel.


Harrow is Gideon’s informant, whose loyalty and intentions are somewhat ambiguous. 

His role is to provide Gideon with crucial information that propels the plot, especially in identifying Rune’s ship as part of the witch-smuggling operation. Harrow’s character adds an element of espionage and distrust, as his true motivations and alliances remain unclear. 

His interactions with Gideon also serve to deepen the latter’s resolve in his mission, further complicating the dynamics between the characters.


1. The Complexity of Good and Evil

“Heartless Hunter” delves deeply into the nuanced nature of morality, challenging the binary perception of good versus evil. 

Rune Winters, as the Crimson Moth, embodies this complexity by straddling the line between vigilante justice and criminality. Her actions, driven by a desire to atone for her grandmother’s death and save innocent witches, highlight the moral ambiguity in her vigilantism. 

Similarly, Gideon Sharpe’s vendetta against witches stems from personal trauma inflicted by Cressida Roseblood, a witch who represents true cruelty. This shared space of moral conflict between Rune and Gideon underscores that both characters operate within a gray area, driven by past traumas and personal convictions. 

The theme underscores that individuals cannot be easily categorized as purely good or evil, as their actions and motivations are often deeply intertwined with personal experiences and societal influences.

2. The Burden of Secrets and Identities

The narrative of “Heartless Hunter” is heavily driven by the characters’ need to conceal their true selves, resulting in a pervasive theme of hidden identities and secrets. Rune’s dual life as a high-society socialite and the Crimson Moth necessitates constant vigilance and deception. 

Her ability to cast spells using her menstrual blood to avoid detection exemplifies the lengths she goes to protect her identity. On the other hand, Gideon’s facade of pursuing Rune as a romantic interest to uncover her secrets illustrates the duality of his mission. 

The revelation of Alex’s long-held secret about Cressida’s survival adds another layer to this theme, highlighting the devastating impact secrets can have on personal relationships and societal stability. 

This theme ultimately reveals how the characters’ hidden truths shape their destinies and the world around them.

3. Sacrifice and Loyalty

Sacrifice and loyalty are central to the motivations and actions of the characters in “Heartless Hunter.” 

Rune’s commitment to rescuing witches, despite the immense personal risk, showcases her unwavering loyalty to her cause and her loved ones. Her transformation into the Crimson Moth is an act of sacrifice to atone for her role in her grandmother’s death and protect others from similar fates. 

Gideon’s loyalty to the New Republic and his brother Alex drives his relentless pursuit of witches, even as it conflicts with his developing feelings for Rune. Alex’s ultimate sacrifice—publicly admitting his role in aiding the Crimson Moth and dying to protect Gideon—emphasizes the theme’s tragic aspect. 

This theme demonstrates that true loyalty often demands significant sacrifices, shaping the characters’ lives and the broader conflict within the story.

4. The Struggle for Power and Control

Power dynamics and the struggle for control are pervasive throughout “Heartless Hunter,” driving the conflict between the New Republic and the witches.

The New Republic’s ruthless campaign to execute witches represents a bid to consolidate power and enforce societal order. The Blood Guard’s role in this regime, particularly Gideon’s mission to capture the Crimson Moth, symbolizes the authoritarian control exerted over the populace. 

Conversely, the witches’ rebellion, led by figures like Rune and later Cressida, represents the resistance against this oppressive power structure. 

The repeated shifts in power, such as the Red Peace’s rise after the Reign of Witches and the climactic battle in the city square, highlight the unstable and contentious nature of control. 

This theme illustrates how the quest for dominance shapes the characters’ lives and the world they inhabit, often leading to violent and unpredictable outcomes.