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Hardened Hearts

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  85 ratings  ·  57 reviews
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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 260 pages
Published December 4th 2017 by Unnerving (first published December 3rd 2017)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  85 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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This is the perfect antidote to the commercialised saccharine tsunami of Valentine’s Day (when I was reading this). Seventeen stories by seventeen new(ish) writers. The style, genre, and length are diverse, but the content is consistently high. The best are brilliant, and the rest are pretty good.

Most are dappled with stains of dark fantasy or light horror, and some have a distinct fairytale feel. Three have central LGBTQ themes.

Love comes in a cornucopia of forms. Sexual, platonic, parental,
Leo Robertson
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
The very first thing this book is is fucking beautiful.

It’s everything that love is. Surreal, hysterical, heartbreaking. Something that brings out the best and the worst in you. Something that can drive you insane. Something that leaves you so vulnerable that a lover’s betrayal may bring out sides of you you never wanted to see, make you commit acts you never thought yourself capable of committing.

We hear “hardened hearts” and think, “Oh, someone has toughened, become cynical, rejects vulnerabi
3.5/5 stars!

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 knocked my socks off!
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.

Candace Robinson
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I hate reading most story collections by different authors because the writing styles are so different—which is great, but sometimes it just doesn't jive. Then most of the time I only like a few of the reads. This didn't happen here, though. I definitely liked almost all of the stories! My favorites have to be... Canon's, Demmer's Braun's, Deady's, Blackwell's, and Al-Mehairi's!

It Breaks My Heart to Watch You Rot by: Somer Canon - Loved this one! It even caused me to tear up! The real
My Rating: 4.5 Stars!

Love. It can consume a person with joy, light-hearted dreams or pain and dark nightmares. Unrequited love, vulnerability and the twisted need for vengeance, the negative side of having loved can be deadly. There is love between friends and family. HARDENED HEARTS is a collection of love at its best and worst from a group of authors who make an art out of storytelling. There is a story for everyone from fantasy to dark horror and they prove that love makes the world go ‘roun
Sadie Hartmann
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Who would have thought love and horror would go so well together? It makes sense though because love adds risk to any good story and if there’s a horror element, now you’re doubling down on the risk!
This anthology takes this theme and taps some amazing writers to plumb the depths of it.
There were some *killer* standouts in the collection that easily make this book worth your time and money.
Tom Deady’s Pink Balloon was especially well written and moved me to tears.
Erin Sweet Al-Mihairi’
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whenever I think about horror the last thing I think about is a love story. This collection has proven to me that automatically eliminating any element from a genre is unfair and uncreative. Horror and romance can absolutely go hand in hand.

This is a unique collection, and I'm so glad I picked it up. Every single writer who contributed is new to me, and I'm trying to discover as many new horror writers this year that I can. I especially love that this collection has more than a couple of stories
S.J. Budd
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hardened Hearts is an anthology of love gone wrong, or weird!!! Before we find love for ourselves we grow up dreaming that love is a magic wand that will put everything right once we find it. However what love can give you, it can also take away. It can ruin you as much as heal.

Here's the line up for Hardened Hearts, and for those who love short horror fiction you'll find some pretty big names in here;

It Breaks My Heart to Watch You Rot by Somer Canon
What is Love? by Calvin Demmer
Heirloom by The
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Lock the door. Shove your fingers down your throat, and heave up your insides. Maybe the pomegranate seeds lodged in your heart will come loose and you’ll be able to escape.

I always find it hard to review anthologies because of the different ratings that I would give each individual story so I went with an average rating because some stories were hits for me and some were misses. However, I will say a particular stand-out in this book was the opening story "40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Love
William Bitner Jr.
Genre - Horror/Anthologies
Publication Date - December 4, 2017
Format - Kindle
Pages - 260
Stars - 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Love and horror are the very best of bedfellows if done well. “Hardened Hearts” by Various Authors goes far beyond that. These are not your everyday kind of love stories (or maybe for you they are). They are dark, twisted and disturbing. Love will be redefined from one story to the next. 17 brilliantly written short stories by some very talented word artists. None of which I have never had the ple
The Grim Reader
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love and horror are two concepts that often walk hand-in-hand. My favourite stories to read in the horror genre are those that break my fragile little heart whilst at the same time creeping me out. Hardened Hearts holds a nice balance of stories. Some of these tales tug hard at the heartstrings, whilst others leave a dark smirk of satisfaction on your face. Then there are those that simply feel wrong…

After the foreword by James Newman, Gwendolyn Kiste gets this collection of love-themed stories
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Effective horror must leave us damaged in some way." (James Newman)

Hardened Hearts was such a fun collection to read. This is a book of dark/weird/creepy/heartbreaking love stories (some of them are definitely not love, but you know what I mean). This collection will take you through a range of emotions, and I loved it. The stories are unique, and I liked that there were a variety of different topics.

Before I get into talking about my favorites, I'm going to mention the thing I was confused abo
Rebecca Gransden
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some hearts are tougher to stomach than others.

Short stories running the rusty knife gamut of love, from the insanely familiar strains of the obsessively romantic and the deeply sexual and passionate, to infinitely complex and weighted familial bindings. Despite the welcome variety in the stories selected for this collection, and the attempt to traverse as wide a spectrum of styles as possible, the subject is too grand and doomed to glorious failure. Which is fitting of course. The collection bu
I am going to give a brief few lines about each story.

40 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR MONSTER LOVER - Gwendolyn Kiste: The loner of the group is dragged along to a party.  She accepts a drink from a man she knows is married, she knows she shouldn't. There are lots of things she shouldn't do but does. The man is likened to that of a wolf, he is the hunter, she the prey.
IT BREAKS MY HEART TO WATCH YOU ROT - Somer CanonL: Love does not last forever.  It lasts until the last breath.
WHAT IS LOVE? - Calvin Demm
Sci-Fi & Scary
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hardened Hearts was a well-put together anthology covering a wide range of stories falling under the sole – but never simple – subject of ‘love’. Reading it, I was never quite sure what the next story was going to bring. I can’t say that I claim to understand the point of all the stories involved in the volume, but I appreciate that the editor tried to make sure that as many aspects as possible were represented.

Because of the topic and the fact that many of the stories strayed from my comfort ge
Maria Haskins
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great collection of dark, twisted, disturbing stories about love, lust, and heartache. With seventeen authors, the voices included in this anthology are varied and it offers a pretty eclectic mix of fantasy, noir, and horror. All the stories reflect on love - as a concept or as a reality - in some way, and all the stories make for solid and enjoyable reading.

Some standouts for me:
'It Breaks my Heart to Watch You Rot' by Somer Canon, a story that reflects on what it's like to watch old
Sunshine Somerville
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

I finished this collection the day after Valentine’s Day, which was kind of perfect. These are not your typical love stories, although “love” is the general theme connecting them. I was very impressed with each writer, and I didn’t feel like there was a weak story in the bunch. The writing is solid. The range of genres in the collection is cool, too. Most of these stories are so uniquely weird in their own way, and yet how the stories are organized makes them cohesive, like they natural
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Love hurts. Love bites. Love’s a bitch. Love is a battlefield. I hate myself for loving you.
Love isn’t always pretty, is it? In fact, it can be downright scary, which is why for every catchy-but-disgustingly-sappy song with a title like Love Will Keep Us Together there’s one that strongly begs to differ: Love Will Tear Us Apart."

"The stories in Hardened Hearts are about love that hurts. They are tales of forbidden love, and love that’s on borrowed time. They are stories about sexual love and lo
Somer Canon
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
The content of this book is and was meant to be a major downer and yet, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It gets weird, heavy and very sad and it is done so by really, very talented writers.
I'm a reader that loves anthologies (I know there are some who don't like them) and I'm so glad that this one delivered.
J.H. Moncrieff
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are some incredible stories in this short story collection, featuring the excellent work of Theresa Braun, Eddie Generous, Somer Canon, Calvin, Demmer Tom Deady, and more.

Two of my favourites are "40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover" by Gwendolyn Kiste and "Burning Samantha" by Scott Hallum. Burning Samantha is one of the most heart-wrenching, gut-twisting stories I've ever read--beautifully written. I'll never forget it.

Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoy a bunch of short stories and these were great!
Ashley (bookishmommy)
Thank you to Theresa for the free copy! My favorite story in this collection was the first story, "40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover". There were a few others that I enjoyed like "Heirloom" and "The Pink Balloon" but many of the stories seemed rushed and that they needed more time to be fleshed out. If you're a fan of horror in regards to love and enjoy short stories, it's worth a read. ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was everything that I had been hoping for even though I didn’t know it. It had everything to please me: it was an anthology of horror stories, and it had romance. The last time I went looking for romance and horror combined in a single book I had to look under Christopher Pikes and R.L. Stines and one or two Stephen Kings that didn’t satisfy me nearly enough – in great part because the romance bit and the horror bit were completely dissociated, and because it lacked the diversity and r ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
True Rating 3.5 stars!

In this day and age, love and love stories in fiction has become in some cases quite formulaic. Hardened Hearts has seventeen short stories that break the mold! Love is not always sunshine and rainbows, love can be passionate, desperate, painful, dark, as well as twisted and disturbing. With each story in this book I found a new idea of love and these stories crossed across many different genres as well. There are many stories to choose from but my favorites were:

It Breaks
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
What an absolutely refreshing take on heartbreak!

I had originally planned on reviewing Theresa Braun’s short story only, but after reading the FANTASTIC foreward by James Newman (author of amazing horrors like The Odd Man Out), I had to read the entire anthology.

Nearly every single story by this group of majorly talented authors, is unique, horrific, and thought-provoking. There were a couple that were just kind of meh for me, but they do have great merit and deserve a read too. With this eclect
Nada Sobhi
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it

The Hardened Hearts anthology published by Unnerving is a collection of 17 short stories of heartache, heart-breaks, and as the title suggests, hearts that have turned to stone or worse.

Some of the stories in this collection will move you deeply, others will keep you guessing, and some will have you putting your hand on your heart as you try to separate fiction from reality.

The collection encompasses some authors I’ve read in previous anthologies and others that are new to me but whose works I w
Suz Jay
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
“The stories in HARDENED HEARTS are about love that hurts. They are tales of forbidden love, and love that’s on borrowed time.” From the forward by James Newman.

My favorite stories in the excellent anthology are as follows:

“40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover” by Gwendolyn Kiste
“You can’t become the heroine of your own story until you creep into the darkness and confront the wolf.”

Kiste is a master storyteller, seamlessly blending mythology, fairytale, modern courtship via social media, and the
Acanthea Grimscythe | The Ghastly Grimoire
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 ho
Happy Booker
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hardened Hearts is a collection of 17 stories that are dark, and some are about love and heartache. Since the collection is written by various writers, each possessed a different kind of style and literature to its own nature of plot and storyline. This worked well for the book because there was bound to be one story that would sit well with its reader.

Some of the stories stood out compared to the rest, and I believe it all depends on the notion at hand, which is the perspective of its reader. F
Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-to-review, 2018
Enclosed in this book are 17 short stories that range from 3 pages to about 30 (I didn't count on some of the longer ones!).

Most of these stories are dark and some can be depressing when you look at the storyline.  But at the same time, some of these stories have an underlying moral to the story that should not be overlooked.

I liked most of the stories as they intrigued me and took me on an adventure through another time and place.  Some I wished were longer because I felt like there was more th
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