Pale Hearts
by Emily Eckart

Insomnia Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-0-986-39755-4.
Reviewed by Amy Hale Auker
Posted on 11/30/2017

Fiction: Mainstream

Pale Hearts is a beautiful and modern collection of short stories. Eckart's style is sharp and her eye is keen. Most of the stories have a creepy edge, and rarely are they sweet. Her prose is crisp and clear, and never did I have to struggle to become engaged. I always wanted to know where she was taking me. Only a couple of times did she let me down, but those stories read as if she intended them to be novels, but hasn't carried through yet.

In the final story in the collection, "An Inquiry into the Nature of Happiness," Eckart shines. The collection has a strong narrative arc and we are brought fully into the exploration that she began at the start, an exploration of inner demon and memories and what we imagine goes on in the lives of others, even when we can't see.

My main criticism is not of Eckart's writing, but of the publisher. This book deserves so much more in terms of design and quality. The press should opt for high quality paper, less amateurish dingbats, and not skimp on pages and size in order to honor this kind of excellent writing.

Eckart's voice, when writing of children and teenagers, is particularly engaging. She dives deep into safety, being believed, and the scary edge when imagination meets reality. I suspect we will read more of this woman's writing in the future.

Emily Eckart is from Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Nature, Potomac Review, and elsewhere. She was a 2016 Artist in Residence at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center in New York Mills, MN, and she is currently working on her first novel. She studied music at Harvard University. For author updates and more, visit her website.

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