Reviews | Written by Jon Towlson 10/11/2017


Dark fiction author Erik Hofstatter is back with another tale sure to freeze your blood at the same time as it melts your heart. How is it possible to do both, you may ask? Well, anyone who has read Hofstatter’s previous work, such as his excellent short story collection Amaranthine or his haunting and unsettling Katerina, knows that Hofstatter has a unique talent for combining the horrors of the real world with dark fantasy and often heart-wrenching feelings of loneliness and longing. His new novelette The Crabian Heart is no exception. Irena and her thirteen-year-old son Aleš are refugees living in a lonely seaside town of Dover, England. Aleš has never seen an ocean, let alone one that glows purple when he’s nearby. On a local beach, he befriends the ostensible Mother of Crabs, an amputee (named Enola) with rigid demeanour and unequivocal warnings. Soon, purple crustaceans crawl behind his every step and women with pincers threaten to recondition his sensitive heart. The Crabian Heart showcases Hofstatter’s ability to create a believable world of real social ills: in this case, the refugee experience which threatens to disenfranchise young Aleš and his mother Irena from wider society, and which has already seen his father imprisoned in an immigration detention centre. We are never quite sure whether the parallel universe (apt that Hofstatter’s publisher is named Parallel Universe Publications) that Aleš finds himself flung into when he meets the enigmatic but beguiling Enola is an hallucination, a product of a disturbed state of mind, or a dreamlike evocation of the netherworld that reflects Aleš’ sad reality. Either way, the emotional tug that The Crabian Heart exerts on the reader is palpable. The Crabian Heart is also a coming-of-age tale, one that resonates with the pangs of unrequited love. And as such, it concludes, like all great coming-of-age stories, with a very difficult and painful realisation for the love-struck main character. By the end of its 100 pages you will find yourself both haunted and moved by Hofstatter’s evocative writing. THE CRABIAN HEART /AUTHOR: ERIK HOFSTATTER / PUBLISHER: PARALLEL UNIVERSE PUBLICATIONS/ RELEASE DATE: TBC

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