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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Small Hearts by Bryan W. Dull is a unique story for me because I have never read anything like it, and while it is described as horror, I think it articulates the reality and the pain of those who have suffered tragedy in their lives. Emily Sinclair is a former educator who is now living in seclusion after the shooting of her third-grade students at Marie-Glen Elementary. She embraces an enforced solitude, afraid to meet the people of the town, but that doesn’t stop her from having nightmares that throw her life into darkness. She feels too weak to fight and when she starts hearing voices that resemble those of her old students now dead, she knows she can’t draw the line between dream and reality. Can the psychiatrist, Paul Cusick, help her reconcile with her thoughts and sentiments connected to that fateful day when her students were shot?
Small Hearts by Bryan W. Dull is dark and murky, yet strangely delightful; it is a story that explores the conundrum of human fear and pain and takes readers on the uncharted landscapes of loss and a world that is nightmarish. As I started reading this book, I got hooked by the strong character of the protagonist. She is real in every sense of the word and her personality enriches the psychological implications of this novel. The story is well-structured. There are many insightful passages and thought-provoking statements that allow readers to consider existential truths. One such is this: “No one ever tells you when you get older that some of the things that you hold dear in life will change at the drop of a dime.” Small Hearts is skillfully written and the characters are richly developed. The prose is crisp and easy to read. Bryan W. Dull writes intelligently about an example of the horrors that plague our society and allows readers to get vivid glimpses of what violence can do to a loving soul. It is gripping, thoughtfully written, and hugely entertaining.