Book Review: Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Hearts 1

Publish Date: June 12, 2018

In every story, there’s a hero and a villain. Sometimes one person can be both.-Jar of Hearts

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. 

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. Georgina is sentenced to 5 years in prison for being an accessory to Angela’s murder. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

This is Grip Lit at its finest.

Friends, Secrets, and Skeletons – my absolute favorite!

“Everyone has a single defining moment in life, something that thrusts them irrevocably into a new direction, something affects them at their core, something that changes them forever.” – Jar of Hearts

This book is a blend of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels, All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, with a little bit of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black mixed in.

Let me just say that this book is downright creepy and made me squirm many times. It is not a “light” thriller. It’s a heavy, complicated, layered thriller with complex characters that made me change my opinion of them several times. Some of the content is graphic and disturbing. It messed with my head. I read this book before bedtime, and it kept me awake thinking about it.

“You see what you want to see, not what’s there.” – Jar of Hearts

This book was so chilling that I was glad that I wasn’t alone when I read it. It’s very descriptive and atmospheric; the author does a very good job at putting the reader right there in the woods, the shallow graves, the morgue, and jail, making me feel as if I’m there witnessing what she describes.

The book is divided into multiple parts, and each part is named after the Kübler-Ross model (otherwise known as the 5 Stages of Grief): denial, anger, bargaining,  depression and acceptance. I thought that this was brilliant, because this book has such a strong theme of grief and loss.

While the topics are heavy and the descriptions are graphic, I thought that the writing is stellar. It enthralled me. It reminded me that every little choice that you make in life can impact your journey in small ways, or even change it completely.

The characters of Geo, Angela, Kaiser, Calvin were very well developed. Jennifer Hillier fully lays out their motivations, desires, insecurities, and needs, and this was especially important understand as ties to the central plot.

I loved how the full story is revealed slowly through switching timelines, flashbacks, and perspectives. Slowly, everything is uncovered and the truth is unexpected, shocking, twisty, and left me with my mouth hanging open several times.

This book is very hard to read at times because it is brutal and graphic and it will likely trigger some readers. But I powered through the disturbing scenes, and found that the layered story and character development were amazing, and the writing was top notch. This one was worth my time.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars 4 Stars

This quote from the book sums it up perfectly:

Sometimes karma came for you later. Sometimes karma came for you right away.” – Jar of Hearts

Here’s a link to a FREE three-chapter excerpt of the book – I promise you, it’s worth your time!

And here’s a video of the author, Jennifer Hillier talking about the book.


13 thoughts

    1. Thank you Rick! This one is a fascinating read. I read a lot of thrillers and it stands out for me. I gave it 4 stars because it was a bit too graphic but overall it was stellar.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Fabulous review! This is on my long list of books I need to read over the weekend!💜


    1. Glad you loved it too. Let me know if you see some similarities in the plot after reading All the Missing Girls. I’m curious if others see it too.


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