She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker (2020)

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The classic tale of boy meets girl, girl is cryptic to boy, boy becomes obsessed with girl, girl becomes even more mysterious and supernatural mayhem ensues. 

Don’t be misled by my glib synopsis, I thoroughly enjoyed She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be, but I also don’t want to risk giving away too much. I went into SHABTWHHSB knowing nothing about the novel except that I’ve loved Barker’s past work and was hooked from the get go. 

Barker has a way of making his characters deep and varied so that, even if you wouldn’t always make their choices, you can still follow them with an understanding and wish the best for them. 

For example, the main character in SHABTWHHSB, Jack Thatch, has personal demons that I’ve seen turn less well structured protagonists into unlikeable, unrelatable characters you are still expected to root for and care about. Instead of yawning and checking how many pages were left, I found myself hoping Jack could defeat his demons and looked forward to following him and his motley crew to wherever their journey took them.

SHABTWHHSB’s story is delightful and felt to me like an homage to Stephen King’s Firestarter in many ways. I don’t know why, maybe it’s the references to Great Expectations, but parts of the novel also feel gothic. 

At its core, SHABTWHHSB is a love story, but it has enough mystery, supernatural elements and action to keep me interested as someone who doesn’t dig romance novels. I would recommend SHABTWHHSB to anyone who enjoys the way writers like King, Koontz and now Barker can spin love stories beautifully into modern gothic masterpieces. 



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