I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts for “Hardened Hearts” a book of 17 short stories with a foreward by James Newman and the book is edited by Eddie Generous. My thanks to Theresa Braun for asking me to read a copy of this book. It is available in paperback and also eBook and can be purchased from Amazon UK ~ Amazon US
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 am going to give a brief few lines about each story.
40 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR MONSTER LOVER – Gwendolyn Kiste: The loner of the group is dragged along to a party. She accepts a drink from a man she knows is married, she knows she shouldn’t. There are lots of things she shouldn’t do but does. The man is likened to that of a wolf, he is the hunter, she the prey.
IT BREAKS MY HEART TO WATCH YOU ROT – Somer CanonL: Love does not last forever. It lasts until the last breath.
WHAT IS LOVE? – Calvin Demmer: He is a lightening bird, a rare creature that feeds on blood. He is controlled by witch doctors and can take human form.
HEIRLOOM – Theresa Braun: Rachel has an antique mirror, an heirloom. She is with a client when the mirror moves, this plus the strange dreams she has been having and also the unsettling client gives a dark and unsettling read.
THE RECLUSE – John Boden: He is besotted with his co-worker Emily. He thought she was “the one”.
DOG TIRED – Eddie Generous: Prince and Cassandra are driving, desperate to stay awake. They cannot allow themselves to fall asleep. There are beast in the shadows, they carry an infection.
THE PINK BALLOON – Tom Deady: Grace wants to go to the fair, Dad has been busy, is tired and grumpy. Mum takes her instead. Walking around is unsettling for mum, be better if her husband was with her. Grace sees a balloon seller, clowns and stalls. He should have gone with them.
IT’S MY PARTY AND I’LL CRY IF I WANT TO – J.L. Knight: He still has her breath, it has been captured in the balloons she blew up.
CONSUMED – Madhvi Ramani: He is a married lawn mower sales man, she is recently divorced. They meet at conferences, trade shows and have elicit meetings. He is in over his head, out of his depth and then there are the lies.
BURNING SAMANTHA – Scott Hallam: She is Samantha, not Sam. Ready to attend the Spring Dance with Andrew. This is a night of change, missed and now lost opportunities.
CLASS OF 2000 – Robert Dean: Didn’t plan on murder today. Didn’t mean to murder Alex at all. But he was a bully and a low life, pushed things too far.
LEARNING TO LOVE – Jennifer Williams: Falling in love too fast and too often leaves scars. Love hurts.
BROTHERS – Leo X. Robertson: Growing up is part of life. There are mistakes and regrets. Going over old memories, visiting diaries exploring the past. This is the longest story, it is diary entries from a group of teenagers, who they are and what they did.
PORCELAIN SKIN – Laura Blackwell: Ruth is sent a music box, it belonged to an old friend who died 13 years ago. She still misses her.
THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD – Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi: When Melissa father dies the farm has to be sold. It goes to neighbours and Melissa is able to live in their guest house. She still grows peaches when an old man comes to her with some advice to improve them.
MEETING THE PARENTS – Sarah L. Johnson: She is trying to describe her boyfriend in a letter to her parents. It is better if they know some things before they actually meet him.
MATCHMAKER – Meg Elison: Getting over a break up is never easy, especially when you ex can be seen on a dating app with a new hairstyle and smiling.
Back to My Thoughts:
These stories are a really good mix. There are supernatural, modern, occult, folktale-ish, modern and creepy but all have elements of love in them in all it’s various guises.
This is a great book for dipping in and out of, pick a story, read it, maybe read another….or get completely engrossed and read in pretty much one sitting, it wasn’t the plan !
They range from a couple of pages in length to several, but they all make their point and are interesting and intriguing.
This is a book I would recommend to readers who like the dark side of love, short stories with twists and thorns.
Many thanks to Theresa Braun, one of the authors, for sending a copy of this book. My thoughts are my own and unbiased.
Many thanks for reading my post, give it a share if you liked it. Or go and grab yourself a copy of this book 🙂 xx