REVIEW: “Heart Proof” by Holly Schofield

Review of Holly Schofield, “Heart Proof”, Luna Station Quarterly 33 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

There is a lot of world-building that has gone into this story — always a plus — but the flip side of it is that I’m not sure I got the details I needed to get when I needed to get them.

The story opens with a strong sense of anger and antagonism between the two main characters, Kamik and Techan. The tension is palpable, but I found it difficult to figure out where it came from. I feel like I’ve been dumped into the story a bit too precipitously and so I don’t know enough of their history to understand why their tempers are so short and why they are so angry with each other, because it is also clear that they have known each other for a long time and were, at least once, friends. It is only later that one very oblique comment makes me realise that they are — or at least once were — lovers.

The classic fantasy story involves a quest, and the quest in this story is one of pilgrimage — pilgrimage to make sacrifice, “a sacrifice to a god I no longer believe in!” (so says Kamik). We learn that the pilgrimage is one that every member of the village one makes, but it takes a long while to find out why Kamik and Techan are making the pilgrimage now, so late in their lives — it is nearly half-way through that I find out that the pilgrimage isn’t a one-time thing, but something that is done every time the god Welmit eats the moon.

So the story took me awhile to suck me in. But when Kamik reaches the edge of Welmit’s Maw and begins to contemplate heresy, then I was hooked. My only complaint by the end is that I wished the heresy had been a bit more heretical, a bit less orthodox.