She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be – J.D. Barker

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*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author, Hampton Creek Press and NetGalleyThe decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

 

Blurb:  A haunting tale of suspense, rendered with the masterful skill only Barker could muster.

She Has a Broken Thing 49988916After the loss of his parents, young Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child—this cryptic little girl of eight with dark hair and darker eyes, sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. Gone moments later, the brief encounter would spark an obsession. She’d creep into his thoughts, his every waking moment, until he finally finds her again exactly one year later, sitting upon the same bench, only to disappear again soon after.

The body of a man found in an alley, every inch of his flesh horribly burned, yet his clothing completely untouched. For Detective Faustino Brier, this wasn’t the first, and he knew it wouldn’t be the last. It was no different from the others. He’d find another just like it one year from today. August 9, to be exact.

Isolated and locked away from the world in a shadowy lab, a little boy known only as Subject “D” waits, grows, learns. He’s permitted to speak to no one. He has never known the touch of another. Harboring a power so horrific, those in control will never allow him beyond their walls.

All of them linked in ways unimaginable.

SHE HAS A BROKEN THING WHERE HER HEART SHOULD BE conjures thoughts of early King and Koontz. A heart-pounding ride that creeps under your skin and will have you turning pages long into the night.

 

J.D. Barker has taken Great Expectations and twisted it into a scifi-fantasy-horror-mystery-love story that had me enthralled from beginning to end.

There is a bitter older woman, a remote and beautifully mysterious young girl, a hopeful young boy and a jaded older man with a dark past.  There’s even a Jo Gargery.  Whilst it was fun to spot the Pip and Stella similarities between the two however, it quickly became clear that this story stands alone, and that I couldn’t expect the plot to mirror the old familiar tale.  For one thing, I don’t remember mutilated dead bodies cropping up regularly in Dickens’ version!

The story begins with one of unrequited love, longing and loneliness. We follow young orphan Jack to the cemetery to remember his parents and see him instantly smitten with obsession for the young girl he meets there.  A girl who proceeds to turn up once a year – same date, same place – and is hiding some very strange secrets.  Secrets that people might kill to keep.  As Jack grows up, through his teens to adulthood, we see his struggles with addiction, unhealthy friendships, his worries about money and his growing interest in a series of gruesome murders.  And he isn’t the only one.  Detective Faustino Brier has also noticed an unusual pattern and is hot on the trail of the serial killer too, with his own obsessive interest.

There is definitely a big screen feel to this story, and I was reminded of X-Men and Heroes in many places, as we find out more about Stella and the mysterious boy ‘D’, and what they can do.  There is plenty of thriller action – with guns and explosions, and also lots of intrigue, deceit and betrayals – balanced with quieter, more introspective moments, where Jack ponders his relationships and the purpose of his life to attempt to decide where his loyalties should lie and who he can trust.

It is Jack, more than anything, that kept me reading.  We see him grow and slide slowly into darker habits and dangerous situations, and I just had to keep turning those pages to find out what was going on and whether he was going to survive it.

I honestly don’t feel that I can do this book as much justice as I would like to.  It was one of those reads that gave me a book hangover for days, leaving me unable to think about picking up my next read until these characters released their hold on me.  I will definitely be reading more from J.D. Barker in the future!

 

 

   I expected the girl to be sitting on the bench, but she wasn’t.  The bench was empty, save for a few red maple leaves caught in the metalwork.  Clearing off a spot, I took a seat and opened my comic to the center, to the bulky paperback I hid within the pages, the book with the smiling boy and unsmiling girl on the cover.  I turned to the first page and began to read.
Two days later, I returned to the cemetery.  The day after that, too.  The bench was always empty.  I went back every day for the rest of that summer and long into the school year, but I wouldn’t see the girl again for nearly another year.
I never noticed the man watching me from the trees, sometimes there, sometimes not.

– J.D. Barker, She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be

 

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Find more from J.D. Barker at his website here, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is available on Amazon right now!

 

 

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