This blog is the place where I post reviews of the books I have read. I review audiobooks, regular books and eBooks for authors and publishers as well as any other book or audiobook that catches my eye.
For Chris, Dirk and Shelley, life in their small town has always been quiet. But they have all heard about the Franklin Farm… a place they should never go near.
When the three best friends decide to build a tree fort in the woods, they dare each other to go to there in search of wood, and find themselves in a strange world they never expected, setting off a terrible chain of events.
In this place, monsters are created, and an ancient evil from an old family curse is rising within their little town. But in all the chaos, they come to learn that not all monsters are bad. Some are special… some are born with a Sacred Heart… From his horrific beginnings, this special Monster was born from a broken pact with evil, and somehow a door to a dark world had been opened. With the help of their new Monstrous friend, the kids try to stop the destructive forces happening all around them, and end the curse once and for all.
I was drawn to this graphic novel because of seeing “John Carpenter” on the cover. But, that alone would not have been enough to make me love this graphic novel as much as I do.
This is the 4th book in a series, but each novel is a standalone seperate story. This means that you can read them in any order, or just read this one. But, now that I have read one of the novels, I want to read them all.
Even though this is a horror story, it is targeted at the young adult (or full adult) audience. The gore is kept to a minimum and I recommend it for ages thirteen and up.
The story itself will resonate with anyone who has grown up in a small town. Every small town seems to have at least one house or property that is rumored to be haunted or evil. SACRED HEARTS is no different.
In this case, three friends – Chris, Dirk, and Shelley are building a fort in the woods outside of their town. When they realize they need more wood to be able to finish it, they remember seeing an old pile of boards beside the barn on the Franklin farm.
Retrieving that wood sets off a chain of events they could never have expected. Curses, pacts with the devil, and a monsterous creature unlike anything the kids have ever seen are only a few of the surprises awaiting readers.
The entertainment value of this graphic novel is off the charts. It also highlights some basic life lessons such as never judging someone by their appearance, and the value of true friendships.
The illustrations are utterly fabulous. I particularly liked the way the illustrators used dark and light to highlight the difference between the scenes of good versus those of evil.
I highly recommend this graphic novel to everyone who loves a tale of good against evil. I rate SACRED HEARTS as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***
ABOUT THE CREATORS:
A Note From the Publisher
John Carpenter Presents Storm Kids brings horror and sci-fi stories to YA and MG audiences.
Brought to you by Sandy King’s Storm King Comics and the Master of Horror himself, John Carpenter, Sacred Hearts is the fourth story in the anthology series. As a mature version of childrens’ books like “Where the Wild Things Are”, “The Gruffalo”, and “Leonardo, the Terrible Monster”, Sacred Hearts shows us that not all monsters are bad.
Like the young adults’ book, “No Place for Monsters” but with its own twist, Sacred Hearts takes us on a journey with children trying to save their town from a curse, while exploring what exactly makes monsters good or evil.
With twists and turns, and a backstory that comes full circle, this story contains revelations on how we as a society view monsters.
Steve Niles’ name is synonymous with the Horror genre. He is credited among other contemporary writers as bringing horror comics back to prominence, best known for 30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre, October Faction, Simon Dark, and Batman: Gotham County Line. Steve’s comic series, The October Faction, was made into a successful Netflix show in 2020.
His comic, 30 Days of Night, was released in 2007 as a major motion picture.
Nat Jones is one of the industry’s top horror and dark fantasy artists, he has worked with many of horrors’ most recognized creators and filmmakers including Rob Zombie, Guillermo del Toro, Steve Niles, Todd Mcfarlane and Joe Hill.
The year is 1969, and fresh-out-of-college smart-aleck Howard Shane has just landed his first teaching job—at Belchertown State School, a bleak institution where people with disabilities endure endless days of silence, tedium, and neglect.
Howard is stunned by the conditions at Belchertown and the challenges of his new job, but as he gets to know his diverse, endearing, and intelligent students, he becomes consumed with a mission: to unlock their communication skills and help them reach their full potential. Pitting his youthful idealism and passion against the rigidity of a rule-bound administrator, Howard battles his way to small joys and victories with his students—and, along the way, learns just as much as he teaches.
A stirring and spellbinding memoir from internationally renowned AAC expert Howard Shane (Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School), Unsilenced is a candid look at a pivotal era in disability history and a deeply personal account of how all human beings can flourish when we care for each other and fight for change.
“It began in 1969, at a school with a name that’s repellent to modern ears: ‘Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded.’ Located in the sleepy town of Belchertown, Massachusetts, it was a grim institution where children with a wide range of disabilities were warehoused for nearly a century. At that time, parents of children with disabilities had few alternatives when it came to raising and educating their children.”
This fantastic memoir is an important addition to the history of people with disabilities. This is a story that MUST be told.
Howard Shane was only 22 when he took a teaching position at the Belchertown State School. Much has been written about the institutions where “disabled” people were warehoused in the past. However, this book is completely unlike any other.
Institutions such as the Belchertown State School were not places of learning as one would expect from the name. It’s full name says much about the commonly held attitudes of the time: The Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded. These were NOT places where hope or inspiration could be found. Instead, the residents were taught either only the basics of self-care, or were taught nothing at all.
When Howard Shane arrived to begin his teaching position, he had no idea that it would shape his entire future.
Determined to actually educate his students, who were the most severely physically disabled residents of the “school,” Howard devised a way for the non-verbal students to actually communicate. This invention changed the lives of his students in untold ways.
His dedication to actually educating his students caused him to butt heads with the administration continuously. His views were seen as radical and his goals for his students were seen as unrealistic and a waste of time.
This book will grab your attention and is 100% unputdownable. Readers will find themselves rooting, not only for Howard Shane, but also for the students in his unconventional classroom.
This book is important. We need to remember the past and how people with disabilities were viewed and treated. This knowledge is essential so that society is never allowed to slip back into believing the uneducated views of the past.
I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who believes that every person, despite their physical and mental disabilities, are important and deserve the chance to be happy and to live a fulfilling life.
I am very much hoping that Dr. Howard Shane decides to write a follow up to this memoir. I would be extremely interested in hearing more about his career and the devices he helped to create. In my view, Howard C. Shane is an exceptional human being and his life and work need to be celebrated.
I rate this book as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be eagerly awaiting the next volume of his memoirs. . *** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***
* Hear an Excerpt Read by Howard Shane, Ph.D. here:
Howard Shane, Ph.D.,is an associate professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Center for Communication Enhancement and the Autism Language Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.
He has designed more than a dozen computer applications used widely by persons with disabilities and holds two U.S. patents.
Dr. Shane has received Honors of the Association Distinction and is a fellow of the American Speech and Hearing Association.
He is the recipient of the Goldenson Award for Innovations in Technology from the United Cerebral Palsy Association and has authored numerous papers and chapters on severe speech impairment, lectured throughout the world on the topic, and produced numerous computer innovations enjoyed by persons with complex communication disorders.
BROOKES is the premier publisher of practical, research-based resources that support children’s healthy development and boost the learning and success of all people, with and without disabilities. We partner with pioneers and fresh voices to inspire readers and provide them with the tools needed to help all learners achieve academic success and work toward a bright future.
To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:
The Following Photos and Links have nothing to do with Dr. Howard Shane’s memoir. They are included here as additional content I found interesting:
INFORMATION ON THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL
From: The ATLAS OBSCURA WEBSITE
THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL FOR THE FEEBLE-MINDED was founded in 1922.
The 845 acre campus comprising some 57 buildings must be called scenic, if nothing else—the Holyoke Range is visible from the campus, and many of the original structures were old farmhouse cottages (five farms were purchased to build the school).
After its establishment, the school became the only institution for developmentally disabled children in Western Massachusetts. Conditions deteriorated over the next few decades. Wards were overcrowded and attendants overworked. As a result, patients were often left to soak for hours in their own excrement. Sometimes, handicapped patients had their teeth removed to facilitate feeding.
In 1992, the school was finally closed after decades of reported human rights violations. In 1994, the campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the buildings are all boarded up. Graffiti and vandalism are rampant. Many of the ward rooms have been destroyed. Weather has also done its fair share of damage. The buildings have asbestos and, while possible to walk in, aren’t structurally sound.
However relics remain of the old school. One room in a large dormitory building still has plastic mats nailed to the walls—a padded cell. Large recreational rooms on either side of the dormitory halls get the most sun. The light is fractured by old-fashioned wheelchairs. In the basement of one building, a piano is lying on its back like a sleeping horse.
And, while the town of Belchertown may have forgotten this nasty piece of its history in the few decades since the state school was closed, it is possible the former residents still remember. In an upper floor, a note was scrawled on the floor, on top of which were human feces. “We were here. Now we’re gone,” it read. “Clean this place up. It’s a mess!”
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
The grounds are conveniently located right behind the Belchertown Police Department. There are No Trespassing signs, and the local paper reports trespassers being arrested on a weekly basis.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you might find the following links interesting:
Book: Crimes Against Humanity: A Historical Perspective. It was written by Benjamin Ricci, who sent his six-year-old son Bobby to live there not knowing what the conditions were like, and who was involved in the initial 1972 lawsuit.
Another book with vivid descriptions of Belchertown is Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer’s I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes. She was a resident of the school in the 1960s and 1970s. Ruth was one of Howard Shane’s students.