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Hearts On Fire Reviews

We read and review for the love and joy of books.

John Inman – Willow Man

Willow Man - John Inman

Reviewer: Vivian

Genre: MM


Review: Sometimes you read a book and it makes you feel like you've got a first class ticket on the Titanic; it's great, but you're still going down. That's this book. Destined to be a favorite of the year.


Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me


Wrong answer--RUN!


Blissfully unaware and galavanting through their neighborhood a fearless band of friends make that leap from child to adult. So swift you mourn for the loss of innocence, the rude abruptness that slaps Woody, Bobby, Cathy, Chuck and Jeremy.


It has an epic childhood memoir feel that takes what should be that perfect summer vacation with friends when everything changes except here... here it is horrific. Unnatural and unmentionable things are visited upon them and they pay the price. A high price, too high a price.


Woven in with now and how Woody comes back to his childhood home. The place of laughter and joy and discoveries that became a memorial to everything he lost. A museum of emotions, love--now dusty. The crew, the brave remaining friends are bought back together to face the enemy they awakened--Willow Man.


The canyons of southern California are creepy. Crumbling, eroded chasms carved out of the earth by water, wind, and time. They are a liminal part of the environment, inherently unstable and channels for nature: animals, the elements, and change. They funnel the brunt of its two seasons: fire and flood. Honestly, a perfect setting for this story. Take that creepy place everyone has from childhood whether it's the ramshackle house on the block or the rusting water tower that you dared each other to run up and touch terrified the whole time whether the bogey man would grab you, the time he succeeded, again; that's what this plays into.


Interleaved between the horror is the story of love. All different kinds of love from sweethearts to familial to friends. A beautiful and dare I say optimistic view that even the broken can unpause their heart and accept love again. That love isn't a betrayal, but a celebration in all its manifestations. Let me tell you, that thread of hope is crucial, absolutely necessary with all the strain and grief. It's a lifeline that keeps you moored and secured from falling into the abyss.


Powerful storytelling and during the climatic scene my body was covered in goosebumps, each hair taunt, separate, and a beacon of sensation. The solution was classic. After being on edge the whole time, it was nice to be able to ease back and breathe again. But, I'm still emotionally exhausted, overwrought and heartsore.

Overall, a terrifying ride that makes you want to clutch tight and never let go of what you hold dear beside you.


Favorite quote:

“We’ve always loved each other. We just weren’t old enough to know it.”