A review by waywardskyril
The Reanimator's Heart by Kara Jorgensen

adventurous dark emotional funny hopeful inspiring mysterious relaxing tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


 I would love to get poetic with this review because The Reanimator’s Heart was exceptionally well-done and had me relating so hard at times my heart hurt. Not only is this a favorite book of the year, but it’s a favorite book, ever. In the words written by another of my favorite authors, however, “If I loved you less I might be able to talk about it more.” The Reanimator’s Heart was like finding my world. It’s a niche I wanted and didn’t know I could have. I don’t know if I can do it justice, but I’ll try to explain some of what makes it amazing.

The Reanimator’s Heart builds a magical society with rules and politics; characters who are imminently distinct, relatable, and loveable; a swoon-worthy romantic relationship; a magical murder mystery; and an over-arcing plot of evil and gothic horror. Somehow all of this in 300 pages, delivered with just enough insight to be fascinating and utterly gripping while following our protagonists.

Set in an undefined alternate past, this world imagines what things would be like with magic, monsters, shifters, and demons, and how those things would be policed. Particularly through the eyes of Detective Felipe Galvan and Forensic Investigator Oliver Barlow.

Oliver and Felipe on their own are just incredible characters. Felipe is a brave, daring, gentle sweetheart, and a detective through and through, with golden morals and a complicated family. I love Felipe, though I feel like I’m not the first to say I adored Oliver even more.
There were so many ways Oliver was intimately relatable to me, ways I’ve rarely seen characters be before. There were multiple times Oliver said or did something or felt a certain way that *clicked* in my soul.
On top of that, this poor, darling, ANGEL of a man literally just wants to be understood and accepted himself, and maybe loved a little. His quirks make him different, he’s rarely been treated well because of them. His first instinct is always to blame himself, an habit that shattered my heart more than once. This man deserves infinitely more kindness than was given him.

Because of that as well as Felipe’s own quiet need, I can’t describe how much happiness Oliver and Felipe’s romance gave me. They’ve been basically pining for each other for years, and the same night Oliver decides to ask Felipe on a date, he finds him dead in his room. My freaking heart. These two… They’re so good. They’re so precious. They not only DESERVE each other, they NEED each other, and they’re so stinking GOOD for each other <3

Oliver and Felipe are a BIG reason I’m looking forward to the sequel, but they’re not the only reason. I’ve already mentioned monsters and magic, but when I tell you the plot of this book was equally as compelling as the charming, emotional chemistry of our antagonists, I mean I was hooked by the generous world-building and weaponized magic murder mystery from the opening chapters.
A novel with a murder mystery, for me, has to have some extra layers to hold my attention. The Reanimator’s Heart? It’s like a honey-sweet baklava of a novel. We have a magically strangled nun out in the snow at night. A suspiciously persuasive priest. And someone has murdered Felipe.
Not to mention the building they work in, the Paranormal Society, is bigger on the inside and sometimes changes, or that the head archivist, Mr. Turpin seems to know things without being told, or the social norms of magics and which ones are and which ones aren’t allowed in polite conversation.
There’s an entire, juicy little world here with magical tomes and thievery and demons and awkward Sunday family dinners. It’s bursting at the seams with stories, and I want to know ALL of them. I want more mysteries and more gothic horror liminal spaces and more monsters and more reassuring touches and soft kisses shared in a misty-windowed steamer.

The Reanimator’s Heart is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. It is… acceptance and understanding while simultaneously full of the macabre, the morbid, the dark. It’s love and companionship and finding each other while simultaneously stumbling into stark, gothic churches full of decaying corpses and jarred hearts. It is absolutely delicious. Atmospheric, yet REAL and WARM.

I’m incredibly eager to read more of this story and so excited book two is now out! If you enjoy a big world and plot and a little bit of gore along with your gentle, sturdy, queer romance, then I can’t recommend this book enough. If you like it half as much as I do, you’ll still love it. Go get this book. You won’t be sorry. 

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