Epeolatry Book Review: Dark Hearts: Tales of Twisted Love, ed. A.R. Ward


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Title: Dark Hearts: Tales of Twisted Love
Author: Various, ed. A.R. Ward
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Ghost Orchid Press
Release Date: 24th March, 2021

Synopsis: Heartbreak. Obsession. Grief. Jealousy. Love can turn tainted, even cruel. Dark Hearts: Tales of Twisted Love is a collection of twenty horrifying stories about love turned sinister. These established and debut authors aren’t afraid to examine difficult subjects, or dip into the darker recesses of human emotion, in stories that are original, unexpected, and thought-provoking.

Contributors:Adam Down, Allison Floyd, Andrew Joseph White, Antonia Ward, Ashley Van Elswyk, Caitlin Marceau, Cara Mast, C.M. Lowry, Emma Kathryn, Jelena Dunato, Jenna Junior, Joshua Robinson, Julie Sevens, Kelly Piner, Lindz McLeod, Matias Travieso-Diaz,Meg Sipos, Paige Johnson, Shannon Scott, Simone le Roux

This hefty anthology starts with a quotation by Neil Gaiman “Have  you ever been in love? Horrible, isn’t it?”, which sets the tone for the following twenty stories, collected by editor AR Ward and illustrated by Ashley Van Elswick, apt to demonstrate the many faces of love. Or,to be precise, of twisted love.

Love is a feeling, a passion, which can take horrible routes, from cruelty to madness, from betrayal to murder, from degradation to violence, from stalking to vengeance, from obsession to death.

The various aspects of deviant love have been covered by the following authors: Kelly Piner, Lindz McLeod, Meg Sipos, Ashley Van Elswyk, Paige Johnson, Shannon Scott, Adam Down, Joshua Robinson, Antonia Rachel Ward, Matias Traviezo-Diaz, Caitlin Marceau, Simone leRoux, Cara Mast, Jenna Junior, Emma Kathryn, CM Lowry, Jelena Dunato, Julie Sevens, Andrew Joseph White and Allyson Floyd.

Commenting upon each story is an impossible task, so I will focus on the contributions which seem more accomplished to me. Alhough the book doesn’t include any actual masterpieces, the average quality is good enough and the following stories are, in my opinion, the best ones.

“Fade into You” by Meg Sipos is a body horror tale that investigats the hidden needs in a sex relationship. “Bumped” by Shannon Scott is an offbeat piece featuring a young woman simulating a non-existent pregnancy.

Antonia Rachel Ward contributes “Lilac Wine”, a rather predictable, yet engrossing tale of seduction and death. Matias Travieso-Diaz provides “Rosalba”, a gentle ghost story about jealousy and murder.

In Emma Kathryn’s “Sister Smoke” we meet another kind of ghost, that of a burned woman, playing a role in the attempt of a girl to find a new life by getting rid of his former husband.

The best story in the volume is perhaps “The Bloom” by Jenna Junior, the insightful analysis of a woman’s attraction for another woman and her final vengeance for being used but not loved.

I was not familiar with most of the authors featured in this anthology, but I’m going to keep an eye on some of the above names and on their next work.


3 /5 stars

Available from  Amazon and Bookshop.

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