Hardened Hearts (2017)
Eddie Generous (Editor),
Gwendolyn Kiste , Tom Deady, Meg Elison, John Boden, Somer Canon, Calvin Demmer, Theresa Braun, J.L. Knight, Madhvi Ramani, Scott Hallam, Robert Dean, Leo X. Robertson, Jennifer Williams, Laura Blackwell, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Sarah L. Johnson, James Newman.
“Love hurts. Love bites. Love’s a bitch. Love is a battlefield.”
James Newman (foreword)
Hardened Hearts is an interesting collection of 17 short stories from various authors, concerning the darker and some cases more sinister side of love.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Theresa Braun via @BookTasters (Twitter). My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Synopsis: “17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.
Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless.”
I enjoyed this, the different themes, the different styles of writing and the different tones within the book, some stories more sinister and unforgiving than others. Quite different to my preferred reading but I enjoyed nonetheless.
‘It’s my Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to’ by J.L. Knight was a particular favorite from the collection. Very short, but it was very to the point. This is a tale of heartbreak, loss, and distress delving into madness from the death of his wife. The image of him sitting in the closet for days, with nothing except a balloon she had gave breath to before she passed, with a scribbled woman’s face on it. I found this both quite heartbreaking and extremely disturbing.
I was also very fond of Calvin Demmer’s ‘What is Love’. To me this was a tale of obsession, a story that ended with the frightening “If I can’t have you then no one can” feel. I have one of Calvin’s novels to read, and after this little taste I am quite excited for ‘The Sea was a Fair Master’.
I hate to say that I wasn’t very keen on the opener, ’40 Ways to Leave your Monster Lover’ by Gwendolyn Kiste. I felt in some ways like I was reading a bad instruction manual. It didn’t feel like a story, short or otherwise. I must admit, having this as the opener did put me off a little. I hoped, and was pleased to say, not all the tales were as off putting.
There is something for everyone here, whatever your favorite style of writing; there will be something to suit your taste. I loved some, liked some, and disliked a few. Overall I feel this is a good read, it’s interesting and each story can unleash a different take from everyone who reads it.
Lesley-Ann (The Housewife of Horror)