Content warnings: Mentions of death, discrimination
My Rating: 5 books out of 5
- Can Austin Chant please write everything forever because DAMN CAN HE WRITE GOOD
- Honestly such a beautiful concept and the writing was just exquisite
- This is the literary equivalent of that one song that always makes your chest clench with emotion
- Roy is the single most adorable person ever and he must be protected at all costs. 10/10 would die for Roy.
“May you grow up kinder than your fathers and less superstitious than your mothers,”
This book has nestled into my heart and I’m not even vaguely mad. I will definitely reread it. And everything else Austin Chant has ever written, because he’s an exceptionally talented writer.
Set in a world where cowboys and witches cross paths on the ranch, and if you lose your hand or kidney you can always get a hand-crafted magical replacement, Caroline’s Heart follows Roy, trying to make his way in the world as a cowboy on a local ranch and whose life changes forever when he encounters the beautiful and powerful Cecily, a witch whose visitations protect the cattle. Meeting Cecily sparks a fierce loyalty and admiration on Roy, and when he is harmed trying to protect her she finds herself repaying the debt in a highly unusual way.
The way grief is presented and explored in what is a relatively short story is just beautiful, the titular heart a physical, feeling creation of extraordinary magic and dedication, a creation of love that still manages to stop just short of healing the wounds loss leaves behind. Cecily crafts body parts for people who shun her, heals and helps those without any other option but lives in a world that nonetheless treats her with fear, suspicion and sometimes outright anger.
This is a book with multiple trans characters. Characters with lives behind and ahead of them, with desires and hopes and hearts (be they flesh and blood or magical) that beat and yearn. I can’t comment, as a cis woman, on the ‘realism’ of the writing, though I know that no lived experience is identical to another, but the indescribable joy this book inspires is something I can talk about forever. It’s very short, a curse because honestly I would read a massive novel just about these characters, and also because I can’t talk about it too much without spoiling it, but this book is a beautiful and precious thing and I am so glad I read it. If you’re looking for something to bolster your spirits, might I recommend Caroline’s Heart?
I hope you love Roy and Cecily as much as I do, because they are wonderful.