Review by Kaitlyn Chan
Orca Book Publishers, April 12, 2022
176 pages, Paperback, $10.95 CAD, 978-1459831605
Grades 8+, Ages 12+
It was a local legend that the Sullivans had a fortune in gold and the old grudges that went along with it. Aaron could have pulled up stakes and gone wherever he wanted. But when Old Man Sullivan died, much of the SulCorp gold went missing. The mystery had never been solved. Aaron became as stuck as any other Hope resident.
Now Will was back in the place he had sworn never to return to, and all because his own dad was dead.
“Sulfur,” Will whispered and then turned away.
Not every eighteen-year-old is a natural detective. But when Will, the protagonist of Sulfur Heart, must investigate his father’s recent death, he might prove to have a knack for uncovering the truth. With accessible diction and a succinct, gripping plotline, Brooke Carter writes an entertaining novel for avid and reluctant readers alike.
Sulfur Heart follows Will, a teenager who has the insight of someone twice his age. At the beginning of this novel, Will receives a phone call that his father has died at the sulfur mill in his hometown, Hope—a familiar name to BC locals. Despite his young age, Will lives alone in a city nearby and must return to the town to look into what he considers a suspicious death.
With his bag already packed and ready for him to leave at any moment, it appears that Will might have a reason to constantly be on the move. He seems to have a plan for any situation, even those as strange as this one, and his inner monologue provides astute observations upon every new scene. As the story progresses, readers act as detectives themselves, piecing together the reason that Will had to leave Hope alongside discovering the details of the central mystery.
Sulfur Heart introduces a range of characters in a short time and encourages readers to decipher who they can trust. Carter explores romantic, familial, and platonic relationships in this small cast of characters, all of whom Will knows personally from his time in the town. Each person has a meaningful contribution to the plot, such as Will’s ex-lover, Eve, whose past helps fill in the gaps in Will’s puzzling pursuit of the truth. Carter also addresses drug use, alcoholism, and trauma responses through exchanges between characters.
This novel is an excellent choice for those who are hesitant to pick up a book or might struggle with dense texts. Its storyline is intriguing, and Carter leaves enough clues that readers will not be confused by the ending. The language is easily comprehensible and physical features such as the font, page size, and colour aid dyslexic readers.
Readers that want an undaunting book with substance will relish Sulfur Heart. Are you ready to uncover all the buried secrets of this small town?
Kaitlyn Chan is a current student at UBC, studying English Literature and Creative Writing. Fulfilling the typical stereotypes of English majors, Kaitlyn enjoys reading, writing, and tea. She spends her free time training for triathlons, singing songs in her bedroom, and trying not to buy more books.