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.
Hardened Hearts may not be my usual type of horror, but it certainly takes the reader on one helluva ride through startlingly real scenarios and Twilight Zone-ish tales. It’s a wonderful collection worth reading, for though all stories share a common element – love – it varies so differently that nothing feels rehashed.
The anthology begins with a story called “40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover” by Gwendolyn Kiste and this story is vital to anyone in an abusive relationship. It hits close to home, and then goes beyond that to show one regaining their strength and sense of self. It is amazingly written and serves as a perfect start to this collection. I also really enjoyed “Heirloom” in which a similar theme is found, and yet it finishes with the roles reversed. Other stories that I really enjoyed in this collection are: “Dog Tired” by Eddie Generous, “Brothers” by Leo X. Robertson, “Porcelain Skin” by Lauren Blackwell, and “The Heart of the Orchard” by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. (Al-Mehairi’s story is the one that really rocks the Twilight Zone/Night Gallery feel, for the record.)
This anthology is available on Kindle Unlimited and I highly recommend snagging it. It’s worth it. I’d like to thank Theresa Braun for providing me with a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.