Edited by Eddie Generous
December 3, 2017
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis
Hello, friendly readers! It’s almost Valentine’s Day and you know what that means. It’s time to celebrate love. For many of us that also means it’s time to spend a shit ton of cash on our significant other. The majority of advertisements feature young men and women giving candy, flowers, and cell phones to each other as tokens of their undying love. Awww! Sunny skies, birds twittering in the trees…It’s just so…so…INCORRECT!
Move over, syrupy garbage! It’s time for Hardened Hearts! From Eddie Generous and company at Unnerving Publications comes a whole new approach to love. Quick Note: If you are an ultra- conservative individual who only believes there is one kind of love in the world, please run away screaming now. This is NOT the book for you! Hardened Hearts celebrates and depicts ALL kinds of relationships. While there are a wide variety of human couplings, there are also monster-human, living-dead, and a highly memorable woman-arachnid combo. Yeah, in Sarah L. Johnson’s story “Meeting The Parents,” the hot boyfriend just happens to be a giant spider. Grab some smelling salts for the folks!
What about relationships that can alter time, or where a person can live in multiple worlds if they are given special talismans and portals? Glad you asked! You’ll want to check out Theresa Braun’s story “Heirloom;” it’s quite the trip. I want to tell you about it, but it’s complicated. By that, I mean impossible to explain. What you see in the beginning is not what you get at the end at all. Let’s just say, that not all of those cool-headed, perfect professional women are ice cubes. Especially not when they have access to another, almost Hell-like world via an antique mirror inherited from their mother. Intrigued? You should be. However, to find out more you’ll need to grab a copy of Hardened Hearts.
The collection is also crammed full of short shockers, such as “Consumed” by Madhvi Ramani. Is there a connection between lawnmowers and love? It may not make you hot under the collar, but the narrator begins the story as a man who loves lawnmowers and everything they stand for with a deep passion. I mean, this dude is practically getting off as he drives his lawnmower around. Then, something changes his desire for suburban perfection. The grass is greener elsewhere and he’ll do whatever’s required to make that change.
You might think for just a minute that you’re done with creepy clown stories, but we’re not. That twisted symbol of merriment and circus entertainment is just painted up to hide all the darkness inside. In “The Pink Balloon” by Tom Deady, most of the characters say that the clown wasn’t even there! But we know better, and so does Grace’s miserable dad. He didn’t take her to the carnival and pays the ultimate price for his mistake.
Why does it always seem like the worst things happen when nobody is watching? Take the boring blah of a cubicle-filled office in “The Recluse” by John Boden. At first, we look upon the scene with pity. Some nerdy computer geek is unable to get the nerve up to say hello to a pretty girl in office. Awww! Poor little dude! C’mon bud, you can do this! Finally, he steps up to her and…WHOA! What the hell was THAT?
I hope that I’ve made your heart beat a little faster, maybe even excited you to the point where…You just have to get a copy of Hardened Hearts! It can be enjoyed by yourself or with others. That choice is up to you. Buy chocolates, buy roses, buy a bottle of cheap wine, but don’t forget the book!