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Anatomy of a Darkened Heart (Dark Victoriana Collection) (Volume 1) Paperback – September 27, 2015
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"Psychologically compelling and full of depth, intelligent, beautifully written, literary but easily accessible, Anatomy of a Darkened Heart may well begin a new era of dark Victorian-era fiction." - Jason Greensides, author of The Distant Sound of Violence
About the Author
Christie Stratos is an award-winning writer who holds a degree in English Literature. She is the author of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart and Locke and Keye, the first two books in the Dark Victoriana Collection. Christie has had short stories and poetry published in Ginosko Literary Journal, Andromedae Review, 99Fiction, and various anthologies. An avid reader of all genres and world literature, Christie reads everything from bestsellers to classics to indies.
Top customer reviews
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The writing is phenomenal. It's not a long book, and the author makes every word count. Her descriptions are perfectly refined to give the reader exactly the amount of detail you need. The plot certainly isn't action-packed (that wouldn't fit the genre at all), but the slow build works very well as you focus on the psychological aspects of the story. I was never bored because the tension constantly increases as matters of the heart grow more and more complicated.
This book is, after all, about how these characters are "darkened." I absolutely loved how I started thinking one character was maybe an okay person, but then they grew to be terrible. And then another character did the same thing to me. And then another. Several times I said to the pages "Oh, no..." because a character would do something so evil to another character (keeping it vague here to avoid spoilers, but I literally gasped several times). But, because the author does such a good job developing these characters, everything they did felt like a natural progression of their true nature. And you STILL cared about them.
So, yeah, I recommend this one. It's not the kind of book you often see anymore, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
As such this is among the finest books I've read in a long time. Please note how I didn't say independently published books. I said books. No distinction necessary. I had been very curious about this book for a long time and when I read the first four pages, I was surprised to see my expectations not only surpassed, but shattered.
This is not a light read. This is not a joyous journey of wonder. This is a beautifully dark exploration of how small decisions can get away from us and how the condition of being broken can be either inherited or embedded within a family.
The story takes us through the many dark crevices within the Whitestone home. How a façade of a marriage ends up setting into motions things that will affect a family for years on end. While many books have characters that are likable, this book does not bother with likableness. Richard Whitestone, Elizabeth Whitestone, Abigail Delilah Whitestone, Emma Whitestone, and even Christopher Whitestone all have attributes that you would not be fond of, and yes, that is an understatement.
Likable they are not. Fascinating they are. Unquestionably so.
Some may cite inspirations of Poe due to certain aspects like clocks, the wallpaper (which is almost a character unto itself), and other details like that, but throughout, what rings true for me is the author's love for Shakespeare. Interrelationships and how one person responds to the other are the core of this work. The human condition is a complicated maze, and sometimes good intentions (or supposed good intentions) lead to awful decisions, and worse outcomes.
The attention to detail in this book must be highlighted. Textures, symbolism, and words. Every word is placed where it has to be placed and sometimes a sentence can make you shiver or gasp.
When I heard the name of the Dark Victoriana Collection, I was curious. When I found out the concept of the novels, all set in the same setting although linked in details if not narrative, I was even more curious. Now that I have read the first entry in this collection, curiosity takes the better of me, and unlike some characters in the book, I shall see where it leads me with Miss Stratos's next offering, for which I truly cannot wait, but for now will have to.
Christie Stratos’ writing is fantastic, it pokes and prods the psychological buttons of the reader to illicit the emotions felt by the characters. The pain, the anguish and the sometimes hopelessness Abigail feels is heart breaking. Elizabeth causes pain towards her friend and she feels no better afterward, Abigail follows this same dark path in regards to her little sister with similar results. Neither realizing that the outwardly directed pain is the result of a darkened heart, one in desperate need of healing. This theme is weaved throughout the story, the writing is expertly done and this is a real treat. Along with the feeling of anxiety felt by Abigail due to her Mothers horrible treatment the emotions drawn are real enough to feel. As Abigail moves from a child to an adult she becomes her Mother’s daughter, the last person she would like to become.
I was really able to connect with Abigail, to her struggles and pain, she was such a well-developed character that I thought I knew her. Her relationship with her Mother was tangible and wonderfully constructed, that kind of writing is what makes this book a great read. The distant and mostly non-existent relationship with her Father only added to her struggle to find her way in life. This book is filled with what makes us what we are, the relationships we have with others, and this message wasn’t lost on me. It didn’t hit me over the head but instead it was perfectly placed just below the surface as the story was told.
Christie Stratos has written this story in such a wonderful way and brings the 19th century to life. With details encompassing the Whitestone’s home, to the way her characters lived, to their erstwhile communication, the writing is amazing. As the story neared its conclusion I was so wrapped up in the Whitestone’s I started to get that an all too familiar feeling. I was going to miss them and I didn’t want them to vanish back to the lonely pages inside a closed book. This is when I know I’ve read a really great piece of writing, connecting to the characters in this way I know the story will stay with me for a very long time.
I was completely mesmerized by this slice of the 1800’s as Christie presented it to us. She wrapped up the story in such a great way that when I turned the last page I immediately wanted more. But all was not lost! I discovered there is more to come in the next year and I can’t wait to take the way back machine to the 19th century again. Anatomy of a Darkened Heart is a fantastic book and a very excellent debut novel. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, well done Christie…very well done.
Most recent customer reviews
Firstly, the cover. I think it has to be the prettiest, creepiest most perfect cover for a book I've seen in some while.Read more