Today I’m reviewing The Laughing Heart by Luke Tarzian. This was originally a story in the Dark Ends Anthology, and is currently one of the amazing books available in this Indie Fantasy Giveaway. The Laughing Heart is part of the Shadow Twins series, and you can read my review of the first book Vultures here – and I am so excited to see what Tarzian is going to do in the next book House of Muir.
Also, The World Breaker Requiem, the second book in the Adjacent Monsters series is out next month and it’s going to be bloody fantastic, so n
THE LAUGHING HEART follows the early years of one Cailean Catil, introduced initially in VULTURES. Still reeling from the death of his husband Bar, a young Cailean takes up arms against the fallen angel Galska Nuul in an effort to release the city of Harbanan from the monster’s hold. But as Cailean quickly learns, things aren’t exactly what they seem. Once marked, always marked.
‘And right now, Cailean sought what none save the crypt of Lúm Duu’Mahl could give—the illusion of euphoria, a walk through memories of yesteryears. A momentary respite from the misery bedeviling his soul, devouring him from the inside out. Agony to alleviate the anguish.
Masochism in its purest form.’
Continuing with my reading of Tarzian’s works, and I think he’s going to ruin me with his writing. I just adore how he writes, ethereal and brutal all at once, and the sheer emotion that quivers throughout it. The emotion is particularly strong in this one, Cailean’s grief almost a character within its self, so tangible and so expertly woven around you as you read that you experience it right along with him – and you can’t but understand and share his need for vengeance.
‘Drops of rain like faerie lips upon his cheeks; soft and forlorn all at once.’
There are so many features of Tarzian’s works and writing that I love, and The Laughing Heart captures them all – the exploration of dreams and madness and truth and how they’re entwined, the power and pain of memories, the balance between entropy and law. It’s all there, wrapped around an intensely personal story and I think that’s why it impacts so much – we see glimpses of what all this means for the world, but we see and feel its true devastation through Cailean. Also, it has to be said that the characterisation is on point – even if you weren’t familiar with Vultures, he is a compelling character and fully realised here.
Or was he mad, dreaming as the desolate dead were wont to dream?
Part of me thinks we need to take the characters away from Tarzian as he torments them so much, and the other part of me (and the larger part) wants more. More of this writing, more of this world and I honestly can’t wait to see what the author does next. This is an emotionally brutal story, don’t let its length fool you – this book is visceral and powerful, and beautiful.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.