REVIEW: “Heart Shine” by Shveta Thakrar

Review of Shveta Thakrar, “Heart Shine”, Uncanny Magazine Issue 40 (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Isabel Hinchliff.

Kamal is lonely, so she turns to research on the Faerie, a mystical otherworld guarded by a tiny black kitten and green-glowing fireflies. She tries to sacrifice her entire history of memories to Faerie in order to become one of its denizens, but something goes wrong, and she finds herself wandering its borders, memories frustratingly intact, hopeless. A year later she finds a boy with a glowing peridot heart, and finally she experiences recognition and learns to appreciate her own inner worth. 

This piece revels in its description, eschewing the stripped narrative style that so many short stories use to build suspense and keep a plot moving. While it seemed a little decadent at times, I generally found it refreshing; Thakrar builds a magical border realm full of hidden meaning out of Komal’s house and haunts. 

Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this piece, though, is its depiction of Komal’s invisibility: the way her parents ignore her and the way that she feels, perpetually, that her dreams and creations matter to no-one else (and therefore matter to no-one at all). It’s a devastating theme, and one that I suspect more of us can relate to than ever before, after such a long period in pandemic isolation. What Komal needs is not necessarily friends to validate her, but the ability to believe that she herself is worthy, and that her creations are worthy of attention. It’s a confidence that you can only find within yourself, and personally I found Komal’s path to finding her inner magic very heartwarming. 

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