In the Heart of the Garden is a Tomb, by Joe Pawlowski
Hey guys, how have you been?
We’ve got gorgeous weather over here in the East of England, the perfect weather for an equally perfect read.
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing my latest read, In the Heart of the Garden is a Tomb, a dark short story collection by Joe Pawlowski. So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
In the Heart of the Garden is a Tomb is a gripping short story collection, which explores a variety of dark tales. My favourites included:
- Gunplay: a story which explores one man’s short-lived and fearful journey of gaining power over life and death when he discovers a mysterious gun.
- Cutter: exploring a young girl’s grief over losing her friend to her depraved uncle’s antics.
- The Transmutation of Rhoda Beekman: delving into the idea of spirits attaching to a woman’s body after she briefly passes to and from the spirit world.
- The Pact: a story detailing one man’s dalliances with the occult, to try and better himself, which lead him to question the nature of such a pact.
- Still Life: A young artist struggles to find inspiration for her artwork when a far more gruesome muse overtakes her while she lays her head to sleep.
There were many positive aspects when it came to reading In the Heart of the Garden is a Tomb, the most intriguing of which I have detailed below.
- Firstly, the author explores a variety of dark topics such as sexual abuse, murder, demonic possession, trauma, etc.
- Secondly, the author writes with a sense of sophistication and alters their style ever so slightly for each leading character.
- Thirdly, they draw you in quickly, allowing you to get a feel for each character’s personal turmoil, while resolving each story within a select number of pages.
- Finally, the author wields his words like a finely-sharpened blade; every word – indeed every detail – adds another layer of mystery and suspense. In short, not a word is wasted.
As always, I kept my eyes peeled for any particularly memorable quotes, with the following four being my favourites.
1) ‘– sometimes the mind gets caught up in patterns of thought that just go around and around. Sometimes we need to take some kind of action to derail that circular pattern and allow ourselves to get headed down a new path. – Take action. Do something to force yourself out of this routine. That’s the next step in your recovery from grief.’
2) ‘But don’t they say there’s a darkness in every man’s heart, Ring? Aren’t we all capable of doing the unthinkable, if pressed hard enough?’
3) ‘– you can reinvent who you are for others, but not for yourself. There is no escaping what you know is your own truth.’
This serves as a particularly important truth, one which I am only now realizing the full extent of.
4) ‘What you think is one thing; what you do is another.’
Again, this quote highlights an important distinction for us to make in life; that one’s thoughts and actions are completely separate. One’s thoughts are to some extent forgivable, while actions have more permanent consequences.
Overall, In the Heart of the Garden is a Tomb is an intriguing collection of well-executed short stories which explore a range of macabre topics.
Themes include; power, grief, life and death, family dysfunction, trauma, and the pursuit of personal justice.
My rating: 4 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of dark and disturbing short story collections.
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Have a wonderful week,