HARDENED HEARTS contains dark fiction stories connected by the theme of love-all kinds of love. This book's strength is in its diversity. It covers so many facets of the subject, there's something here for everyone.
The tales that stood out for me were:
Calvin Demmer's story WHAT IS LOVE. This story knocked my socks off and I will be tracking down more from this author!
THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. This read almost like a warped fairy tale, and as we all know, fairy tales can often be quite grim.
PINK BALLOON by Tom Deady was my favorite story in the book. It totally broke my heart.
HEIRLOOM by Theresa Braun. I love tales about mirrors and this was an excellent example of why. This was my first experience with Theresa Braun's work and we are off to a good start.
THE RECLUSE by John Boden. Short and sweet, Boden always impresses me.
ClASS OF 2000 by Robert Dean. I guess the moral of this tale is not to mess with someone that can throw a baseball at 100 mph. It seems like common sense to me.
BURNING SAMANTHA by Scott Hallum. I had never previously heard of Scott, but he's on my radar now.
50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR MONSTER LOVER by Gwendolyn Kiste. Here is another author that I haven't had any experience with but whose story was impressive.
Lastly, IT'S MY PARTY AND I'LL CRY IF I WANT TO by J.L. Knight. A heartbreaking story about love and loss. Poignant and dark all at the same time.
9 of the 17 tales resonated deeply with me and that's above average, so I rounded up my original rating from 3 to 4 stars. I have some new authors to follow and I think they are offering up original work which only improves the genre. Bravo!
Recommended for fans of diverse dark fiction!
*Thanks to John Boden for providing an e-ARC of this anthology in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*