Title: Two Hearts
Author: David Connor & E.F. Mulder
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: November 30th, 2016
Shelves: Fantasy; LGBT+; MM Romance; Novella
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3 stars
Following a lightning strike that causes his nervous system to go haywire, Frank is left unable to touch another living thing. Though resigned to being a lonely freak, he ever hopes that someone, somewhere, might love him.
But his life goes from bad to worse when someone does…
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Less Than Three Press in exchange for an honest review.
“My life began with you.”
Mortician’s assistant “Freaky” Frank Stone hasn’t had the easiest life. Living in a tiny trailer after burning down the Stone family home cooking a grilled cheese, Frank was forced to hang out at the local funeral home after school. Bullied everyday, and with only his boss Vaughn Hellier for a friend, Frank found solace in the woodland area behind the home, where he speaks aloud to the trees and the animals. One afternoon, while relaxing in the woods, Frank is hit by lightning, and his life becomes a whole lot more difficult.
I wasn’t so sure of Frank at first. Right from the outset you realise that he’s quite an odd and quirky character – he talks to himself a lot, borrowing personas from fictional characters, and I initially thought his penchant for talking aloud to the trees and woodland creatures was pretty weird. I definitely thought his masturbating in the woods was weird. But as you get to know Frank more, he becomes a sympathetic and very lovable character. He is rather odd, but he’s kind and funny and he experienced some awful things in his life, and throughout the novel I hoped that he would have a happy ending because he sincerely deserved one.
Vaughn was an interesting character, and one which I wanted to see more of. He has served as Frank’s father figure for years, and it was a relief to know that Frank had a protective, caring person like Vaughn in his life. Vaughn also has a secret life, slowly revealed to us throughout the novel, and I would have liked to have read more about Vaughn’s past and his secret, supernatural dealings – the experiments he took part in were to me the most interesting thing about this novel.
Liam is Vaughn’s son, and like Frank, he’s a total sweetheart. Liam is funny and so full of happiness and warmth. Again, I was happy that Frank found someone like Liam. While Frank and Liam fall for each other, they cannot touch due to Frank’s ailment, and we read about how they first resist one another, before coming up with unique ways of showing affection and making love without physically touching. Their relationship was very sweet, and it was definitely my favourite thing about the novel, but I do think there was a bit too much focus on their sex-lives considering that the novel is a short one, clocking in at approximately 51’000 words.
The plot is indicative of Frankenstein (Frank…Frankenstein) and even though it’s a genre I don’t read much of, I really enjoyed the fantasy, sci-fi element of the novel. It was simultaneously eerie and compelling. Like Frankenstein, there isn’t a whole lot of scientific discussion in the novel which I honestly appreciated. I don’t read much sci-fi, but in my experience, when a novel or film go deep into scientific explanations, I tend to tune out and lose interest. I also loved the LGBT+ aspect of the novel – and it is a significant part. This novel is set in the mid 60’s and Frank is tormented for many reasons – his assumed homosexuality being one of them. I think Frank’s sexuality makes the reader more anxious for his safety given the time period the novel is set in. Throughout the novel, Frank suffers verbal abuse from his former friend Renny, as he continuously bullies Frank due to his scarred appearance (a result of the fire), and his sexuality. I felt very nervous for Frank, as I feared someone was going to physically harm him. I think a positive message this novel gives is to stay true to yourself, just like Frank and Liam. Love conquers all!
Two Hearts is a short, sweet, interesting read with numerous twists and turns, and a rather unexpected ending.
Would you read this novella again? Yes – I’d actually love a Vaughn prequel!
Who would I recommend this novella to? Fans of Sci-Fi, Fans of fantasy and LGBT+ novels, Frankenstein nerds