Member Reviews

His Unburned Heart is a highly recommended read for fans of Mary Shelley’s works including Frankenstein, Percy Shelley’s poems and works by Lord Byron. This is a perfect read for historical fiction fans with stories featuring strong, female protagonists unwilling to bend to socially conservative norms to advance themselves in a world ruled by men. A beautifully written and engaging novella that is infused with the gothic atmosphere of Mary Shelley’s most thought-provoking works. A must read!

This is a fascinating gothic infused historical fiction novella from the perspective of Mary Shelley following her husband, Percy Shelley’s accidental death.
The tale of his heart refusing to burn in the pyre constructed by Shelley’s friends, novelist Edward John Trelawney, poet and publisher Leigh Hunt and Lord Byron became the stuff of legends. The customs of the late 19th century forbid, Mary Shelley from attending such a Hellenic funeral but Sanderson imagines a Mary Shelley who is wild and irreverent in nature and attends her husband’s funeral pyre disguised as one of Byron’s footmen.
The battle has only begun for Mary Shelly and like her struggles to author her famous novel, she again battles for entrance to a man’s world – this time to reclaim her husband’s unburned heart from his publisher. Hunt, who immediately seized a way to keep Percy Shelley alive by stealing the heart for the examination and study by medical experts and curious-minded men.
Fearless and determined, the first-person perspective of Mary Shelley delivers an emotional, rational and ultimately, triumphant tale. Sanderson shows us Mary Shelley as imagined for a woman who broke all societal rules and expectations for love and continued to do so well after her husband’s death and unusual circumstances. This is historical fiction that promotes the strong, female protagonist but does not strip her femininity or fear of societal pressures from her. A powerful and compelling novella.

** This is my personal opinion and does not reflect any judging decisions **

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Thank you NetGally and the publishers for this ARC. I always love reading about Mary Shelley so right off the bat I was excited. This was an interesting look at loss, grief and how relationships can change when death is involved. This story was well written and atmospheric. If you enjoy gothic history this will be a quick little treat.

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Publishing date: 09.05.2024
Thank you to NetGalley and RDS Publishing for the ARC. My opinions are my own.

The book as a meal: A fortune cookie with a mysterious message
The book left me: Wanting to read more of the "series"

The final 15% of the book was really confusing
Some of these characters can't seem to stick to a single decision

Vibes are sublime
A fascinating mystery

Small heist, cunning women, crossdressing, retrieves-esque-man, Italy setting, purgatory

Why did I choose this one?
The cover on this one is stunning! I felt good vibes coming off just looking at it, and I knew I would rate this highly. If the cover is the hook, then the blurb was what reeled me in finally. Just about vague enough to get me curious.

Pick-up-able? Put-down-able?
Pick-up-able. I was really hooked on the story.

What was the vibe and mood?
It started off tragic, and then I got a little angry. Moved on to feeling stealthy and cunning. Back again to angry, and then to melancholic. I was going through all the stages of grief reading this.
Vibes wise? Urban trickery in a lush and "warm" city. But also; cold and salty with a pinch of depression.

Final ranking and rating?
A tier, four stars. Great little novella. Absolutely adored the character work and pacing. Looking forward to reading the next "Selected Paper". Can recommend to those who might not like a classic mystery, but would rather have something surreal at the root of it.

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Mary Shelley, the woman who wrote Frankenstein at such a young age, what do we truly know of her story? This book explains Mary's process of retrieving what has been taken by her husband's publisher. This book was deliciously descriptive and made one's heart clench every page one turns. It is a wonderful read for when you are in a reading slump. I ate through this book as the plot was well thought out and masterfully displayed for the readers' understanding. Overall, this book was wonderful, 4.5/5

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I was very excited when I saw the synopsis and what this book was about. I absolutely love Mary Shelley and was curious the spin that the author would do on her grief.
It was a very easy read and I enjoyed how the author wrote.
It's a novella that dives into the grief and love that comes between "friends" when one is loss. It is heart breaking to think that she wasn't able to even attend the cremation of her husband due to her sex.
I wasn't really a huge fan of the second part of the novella where it dived into what may have occurred on the boat that Shelley died on. It felt out of placed considering the text you read in the first half.

*Thank you NetGalley for providing this eARC for an honest review*

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Thank you for the ARC !

I had high hopes for this book and in the end, my feelings towards it are deeply meh. There is a true delight in reading older litterature because it outlines both how people were deeply dimilar to how they are nowadays, and how very different too. There is something hilarious and endearing at seeing someone care deeply about some detail curent people judge trivial, or appear lackaidaisical towards stuff i deem central, or even accept strange rules about living.

This dissonance is never more present than in Frankenstein, a story so deeply ridiculous and beautiful it can only be genuine. Older stories make sense, of course, but in a very real way, they absolutely don't.

Enters this book, where the author tries to suggest this is such a story, this is a look into a 19th century human... except it's not. It's hardly a story, for starters, but more importantly, it's so reasonnable, so worried you might think it too fantastic or strange, that it all but screams its 21st century origin.
A better reader would probably be able to see past that, but I cant.

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As a weird history buff this book was right up my alley.

I throughly enjoyed the way that Sandner immerses the reader into a piece of history. If this had just been Sandner giving us their take on how Mary obtains her husband's unburned heart than this would've easily been a four star read.

Unfortunately, it is separated into two parts and the additional part felt really out of place.

And it's possible it only felt out of place to me but I really didn't enjoy the twelve additional recountings of Percy's passing.

But nonetheless I enjoyed this and will be reading more from this series of books.


Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I had a hard time reading this book. While a clever idea, it was hard to follow and hard to get into.

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This take on Mary Shelley and her grief in the wake of her husband's death is rich in imagery and intensity. Any fan of Frankenstein and/or its author will enjoy this quick read.

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As a huge fan of the Shelleys I sometimes struggle reading fiction based off their lives but I really enjoyed this one and the way it approached a fascinating and heartbreaking period for them. I really liked the way it played with form, the two different sections feeling unique but connected still. The writing style felt somewhat literary and was beautifully done, nicely setting the period and lending a strong voice to the story.

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In this book there’s two parts in both subjects of each one or Marie Shelley the stories touch on problems at that time and the death of Lord Byron and I found the first one to be so creepy but boat have such an awesome feeling of authenticity and an original take on Marie Shelley Frankenstein and Lord Byron. I thought the author had a great knack for using few words to entirely explain what was happening and for the progression of the story. I am definitely 100% going to be down loading other books by the author the only other person I’ve seen write like this author is one of my favorite horror writers who I won’t mention here because the book is not about him but OMG this is my favorite book so far from the theories and I really loved the last one that was about Frankenstein not all the books are about that nor are they all historical just a coincidence but either way this is a great great book a total five star read and one I definitely absolutely recommend.His Unburned Heart by David sander is the fourth book in the Selected Papers From The Consortium For The Study Of Anomalous Phenomena A multi author anthology. I want to thank our DS publishing for my free arc copy via NetGalley please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

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this book definitely fits the cover art very well. it was definitely easy to read and get through! grammarly there were a few problems for sure *commas galore*
i did think this books tone based on synopsis and cover was going to be a little more creepy/paranormal. but as i said i think it fits the book nicely.
the main character was likable and i felt for her situation. in all 3/5 stars. it is just not my type of read!

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“There, in the charred lump of his unburned heart, in its impossibility, my story lies.”

His unburned heart is a beautifully written novella retelling the story of Mary Shelley keeping her husbands heart after it failed to burn in his cremation.
The writing is so lyrical which I loved! I highly recommend this book for fans of the Shelley family!

Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for letting me read this book in exchange for an honest review!

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My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Raw Dog Screaming Press for an advance copy of this novella about the death, love, those who wish to control the legacy of art, and the ways that people deal with loss, and comes after.

Grief I have always felt is the most universal of emotions. Some might never feel love, some might forgive instead of anger, but everyone has lost something, be it a person, ideals, dreams. We grieve for those things that we lose, and sometimes do things we regret later because of it. While grieving we usually blame ourselves, and imagine, if not by a bedside, or on a boat with our lost loved one what their last moments were. Was there blame cast on the living? A curse before the end? Did they know it was the end? All questions that haunt. Especially a writer of rare abilities who has lost so much. His Unburned Heart by David Sandner is a novella about Mary Shelley and the days following the loss of her husband, and what the author of Frankenstein imagined his last moments were.

This is a novella broken into two parts. On a beach in Tuscany, Italy during the year of 1822 a group of men have come to cremate the body of the poet, Percy Shelley who drowned with a companion in a boat accident. In attendance is his publisher Leigh Hunt, the adventurer and supposed-mystic Edward John Trelawny and Lord Byron. Disguised as a footman is Mary Shelley, whose presence was banned as this was a ceremony for men, not women, nor wives. Mary watches as Trelawny pulls out the unburned heart of her husband and gives it to Hunt. Before the bones have even cooled Mary visits Hunt and ask for the heart of her husband, but is told that Mary had no appreciation for Percy, her words have been hurtful, and the legacy of the poet should be kept safe with him. Mary is stunned, hurt and realizes that even with her great gifts, she is still a woman, and has no rights to even the heart of her love, in this world. The second part is Mary coming to grip with her loss, and her guilt for holding her husband up, allowing him to be caught in a storm and dying. Mary imagines different scenarios of Shelley's death each one adding to the guilt that is eating at her from the inside.

This novella has not only some of the best writing I have read in quite awhile, but is some of the most powerful writing I have read. Sandner in this short piece has gotten to the heart of loss, the confusion, the fact that people continue on while a person has died, and maybe those people were never the people you thought they were. There is a pain that leaves no mark that Mary is feeling, and the words and actions show this. Sandner uses words like a painter setting scenes, drawing emotions, and capturing the era, with phrases, words and descriptions. At one point a character uses the F-word and instead of shocking, one gets a true feeling that the character knows there is no coming back. The end is here, and only one word can convey it. I'm not ashamed I have read it twice, and when it comes out will buy it to read it again. A really amazing work, one I didn't want to end, but understand why it had to.

This is the first that I have read by David Sandner either fiction, nonfiction or edited. I plan to amend that quite quickly. A really beautiful work. One that even as I sit here typing I can't help but stop and think about.

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Thank you to NetGalley for an early copy of His Unburned Heart.

The style and choice of wording really set the era well. The descriptions and exchanges described also helped immerse the reader to the time and place. The topic was so intriguing to me. How did Shelly die, why will his heart not burn?

The beginning of the story is so captivating. The feelings Mary shares with us is so detailed and colored. The notion of where women stood in society during this time is drawn prominently. Mary shows cleverness with aid finding a way to attend the funeral after finding all women banned, even being his wife.

The story did lose me after Mary gives quite a childish display after thieving back her husband’s heart. It confused me and left me in a dislike after having establishing in my mind a woman of great educational interest. Even given flashbacks of scholarly viewings and reveling in recounting them later with her husband.

The latter part of the story reveals great pains Mary went through placing her in a certain mind frame during her last moments with her husband right before his fatal voyage. It was so sad for Mary. How she got along is a wonder.

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First time reading David Sandner, but have enjoyed the books in this series. This probably wasn't my favorite in the series, but it was enjoyable. #HisUnburnedHeart #NetGalley

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This was a great fourth book in this series, it had everything that I enjoyed from the other three books. The concept was everything that I was looking for and enjoyed the overall feel of the characters in this world. I loved the idea of Mary Shelley going on a quest to save her husband’s heart.

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Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book.

I love David Sandners writing style in this and I enjoyed this story. That being said, I feel like the second part with the snippets was unnecessary and I think we could have touched upon what happened with Byron and Allegra a bit more. Had that happened this book would have been 5 stars, and had those snippets not been added this would be 4 stars.

Strong 3.75

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Loved the story line. 5 star read for me. Loved reading this book so much!!! I recommend this book to everyone.

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Poetic prose weaves through the story of Mary Shelley’s loss of her husband, Percy. This was an interesting take on Mary’s state of mind and heartache around a time of great loss. As she deals with depression and misogyny, she fights to keep what she feels belongs to her-her late husband’s heart. The author presents her anguish in a desperate way, while painting a heartbreaking view of her mind’s attempt to unravel the mystery of Percy’s death, and the agony of the loss of a child. What this story does best of give Mary a voice, and a chance to tell her side of the story-at a time when women were silenced or told to know their place.

I enjoyed this historical fiction story that revealed more of Mary Shelley than just being known as the author of Frankenstein. The language is rich and lyrical, and gives Mary’s grief a place to be known.

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