Slave to the word: the Deadheart Shelters

The Deadheart Shelters by Forrest Armstrong

I had heard great things about this book prior to picking it up. I didn’t really know anything about it, but the people I spoke to about it, or the people that were talking about it had nothing but praise for this book. So basically this book is about a slave who escapes and becomes a coal miner. That’s the simple way of putting it. But really, it’s a bizarre smattering of stunning descriptions of a world that is both beautiful and terrifying. This is a story of love and loss, heartbreak and tragedy. It fills you up with so much vivid, surreal imagery that the story powers through purely on the emotion that imagery provides. The characters are fuelled by the tragedy of the world they live in, the devices of a terrible machine that are seemingly incapable of questioning the status quo. Yet the story is about one man who challenges the nature of the world, yet he simply escapes one tragedy to fall into another. Hope is built up then torn away, built up then torn away. What more can I say? The writing is beautiful, and the book is totally, wonderfully touching, emotionally conflicting, and leaves you feeling woefully wounded. In the afterword, Jeremy Robert Johnson said one thing in particular I felt captured the awe of the book perfectly: “It appears Mr. Armstrong has an obsession with the atmosphere in its various states, and when I mentioned this to him he simply replied ‘It’s the biggest thing in the world’ and left it at that.” Woah. Buy it, read it, love it.




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