Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Daniel Evans is a man in search of himself, a better, drug free self and heads into the outback to see if he can find him. Pierced, and goth, complete with black eyeliner and nail polish, Daniel also has a trunk-load of demons to vanquish or at least come to grips with. He’s on the road to Uluru with his twin brother’s car and no real plans. Until he runs into Sam Collins, ex-Army vet still dealing with the repercussions of the wars he has fought.
Sam needs the isolation and quiet that the red dirt of the Northern Territory affords him and he lives by the odd jobs he hires out for from station to station. When ex soldier meets goth on the run, the expected explosion never happens. Instead two damaged men find the other half of their heart in the red desert and rocks of Uluru.
The Red Heart is perfect Isabelle Rowan. A quiet story full of magic, strength and endurance, it surrounds itself in the elemental power of the Northern Territory desert and the ancient stones of Uluru, previously known as Ayer’s Rock. With this setting as a foundation, Rowan brings into emotional clarity two damaged men in search of peace and an end to their anguish. One, Sam suffers from PTSD and the memories or flashbacks that haunt both his days and nights. Daniel is a drug addict just out of rehab and looking at the mess he’s made of his life. He also happens to have a mirror image that underlines the poor choices he has made. Daniel has a twin brother whose live took a happier, drug free path and the pain of that knowledge only adds on to Daniel’s guilt and confusion.
Rowan’s characterizations come across as completely believable poignant human beings, as does all the people in this short story. Whether it’s the tourists Sam and Daniel find at Uluru or the workers at the Station that accept Daniel, although not without a good amount of kidding that never falls into bullying or spite. The station felt alive, busy and dusty from the red dirt all around them. But it’s the desert and the ancient formations that Daniel and Sam hike through that give this story its magical power and elemental sense of timelessness. Through Rowan’s vivid descriptions you can feel the pull of the rocks, the vibrations that flutter through the soul that forever changes Sam and Daniel.
What final part of this story grabbed at me? The fact that nothing was magically solved or that each man’s problems were eradicated. No, Daniel and Sam still had issues to deal with, including once an addict always an addict for Daniel. But they would be dealing with their realities together. That made this story and this couple real, and wonderful, and meaningful.
I love this story and highly recommend both the author and The Red Heart!
Cover Artist Anne Cain does a great job with the landscape. I just wish that the model was a little leaner, someone who looks as though they had hit the end of the road.
ebook, 114 pages
Published March 13th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 12th 2013)
seriesUnder the Southern Cross