The Rental Heart by Kirsty Logan
Twenty tales of love and loss with clockwork hearts, island circuses, flooded worlds, lustful forest queens and so much more.
Kirsty Logan is an award-winning author whose fiction has featured in close to a hundred literary magazines and anthologies, as well as having been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She is the literary editor of acclaimed culture site The List. “The Rental Heart” is her first story collection, published by Salt Publishing and available now. It’s an absorbing collection of modern fairy tales signifying a rich talent that will appeal to fans of Angela Carter and China Mieville.
The Rental Heart is available now in print and eBook format.
The numerous stories in “The Rental Heart” are inextricably bound together by the theme of love and identity and an eternal quest for both. Born of smoke, the stories conjure a pungent world of diesel and first fumblings under cropped tops and jeans, a world of loss and yearning as sweetly rank as patchouli oil. Sawdust on bar floors. Sweat on flushed cheeks and the reek of the circus. These stories will entice you to let go of your lover’s hand and walk, alone, into the dank undergrowth spilling from an unlit park at the end of the street. People looking for love and life and answers are far, far more than the sum of their atoms – they are the space in between. These emotionally charged, beautifully told tales exist to help the reader creep into the vast uncharted spaces between the small pockets of the known.
In the pages of “The Rental Heart” you will find so very many stories. It is a maze with countless (oh, very well, twenty) exits. You will turn a corner and walk straight into the classroom romance of the antlered schoolgirl who would rather face isolation than date the boy with the lithe long tail. Take the second exit to the left and hitch a ride with the two brothers trapped in a one-sided relationship, driving endlessly across the country to seek a mysterious third brother they may never meet. Just ahead stands the runaway girl who fell in love with Baba Yaga. And there, just over there, lies the bridge that’ll take you to the mainland and beyond if only you’ll admit to yourself that you’re finally ready to cross.
Kirsty Logan is one of the most evocative writers currently exploring “The New Weird”, a literary genre which casts aside obvious logic yet retains essential emotion, journey and character. Some of these stories, like the tale of the caretaker who must tend the graces in their cages, are assured examples of The New Weird. Other stories are love stories, and also literary lust stories, because the world needs more of these. All of these stories are, in their own way, fairytales. Reading the book is a fairytale in itself, a chance foray from a sunny meadow into a dark wild wood from which it is difficult to return. And why would a person want to?
Stories are good. Fairy tales are also good. Enriched souls. Happy endings. The girl gets the girl and the boy and all permutations thereof and only very rarely, only sometimes, are things lost forever.
“The Rental Heart” is a kaleidoscope. Flick the wrist, turn the page – and suddenly everything is similar, yet different, and it will never be the same.
Author Kirsty Logan lives and works in Scotland with her girlfriend and her cat.