Justin Robinson’s Coldheart is a novella and a series of short stories that are set in the same world and complement each other. The world of these stories is mostly the same as ours, but there are dark fantasy creatures warring with each other. This war is hidden from view, but exists on a massive scale. There are several factions vying for control that are willing to do anything to get it. The stories focus, not on the supernatural forces, but on the regular people caught up in the machinations of uncaring super beings.
We are introduced to this world in the novella Coldheart, where a young man struggles with schizophrenia in a world that may actually be coming unhinged. Chris must face unfathomable creatures and terrifying odds to even survive, much less save the girl. He is caught in the middle of the war with no context and no allies. Perhaps his only hope is the worst choice imaginable. The other stories here keep the same feeling that luck is the best hope anyone has of surviving.
The stories here do an excellent job of selling the world. They build on each other in a really clever way. The protagonist of one story might show up as a supporting character in another, or a minor character might suddenly take a big role in another. This helps to sell the idea of a cohesive world, while also adding a cool layer to the whole thing.
I do have to mention that, while some of the stories are well-plotted, little pieces, one or two are mostly just fantastical and disturbing settings that don’t really have a strong plot. Now, these stories are still very evocative and well done, but I would have liked a little more from them. That’s really the big criticism here. I wanted a little more.
That really sums up my experience with the book. I enjoyed the stories and was satisfied with what I got. I loved the world and want to see more of it. The glimpses into the intrigues and adventure were all compelling and followed the tantalizing example of Lovecraft. Explanations destroy mystery. This is a book that got that balance right. If you are looking for some magical realism or realistic magicalism, you should give this one a shot.
Three and a Half Frozen Hearts Treats out of Five