by KB Meniado

THE STORY

Chroma Hearts by Mayumi Cruz - Bookbed

Can love triumph over all—even catatonic depression? Can love defeat everything—even a diabolical evil?

A new bride suffering from catatonia. A determined husband trying to break through the black pit in which her brain escaped to. And a ruthless abomination who will stop at nothing to tear them apart.

Melvin and Erica are childhood sweethearts. Theirs is a love nurtured through the years. Everything is perfect. They are on the road to their happily ever after. Until their love is put to a series of tests: trials of fire.

Erica is brutally assaulted, left for dead but miraculously survives. Undeterred, they go through with their wedding. But an unwanted outcome and an unexpected memory of the assault push Erica to the edge. Her mind switches off. She becomes catatonic.

Armed with only his unwavering love for her, Melvin strives to unlock her mind and bring her back to him. 

But what if the key to her brain opens up a Pandora’s box, unraveling a hideous truth about the crime which they mistakenly thought was solved? Will they be able to accept it—or survive it?

Chroma Hearts is an intensely emotional psychological thriller about a love that destroys and a love that heals. Get a copy: Amazon

WHAT I LIKED

My heart was pounding the whole time I was reading this book because [expletive deleted]. It opened with a crime (stuff of nightmares, really), and I thought the writing style was nothing less than perfect—vivid and dramatic,

But wait. My eyes widened. What was that I hear? Sirens. Loud and wailing. Tires. Screeching, squealing, the crunch of gravel. Lights. Blinking, multi-colored, coming from outside, filtering through the windows of the dark room, lighting it up like the dancing, dizzying lights of a crowded, full-packed nightclub. Angry, rasping voices over a loudspeaker, forcefully barking orders to surrender. The police. My heart palpitated to dangerous heights. (Chapter 1)

because it situated me right away (and honestly, a bit carried away). The whole thing felt like following a crime movie or TV show, complete with mini cliffhangers, dramatic plot twists and flashbacks and wtf-worthy revelations. At the rate my investment was going, I was already practically begging to get to the bottom of it all even in just the first few chapters.

How did we come to this? Two tormented souls, two shattered hearts, two people tied and bound in a perpetual circle of gloom. There was no light in sight. Only darkness. Only sorrow. (Chapter 3)

But what I was into was how moral compass, family dynamics and most of all, mental illness were explored. (Congratulations, Philippines, on the historic enactment of Mental Health Law just today!) This was the first time in years I’ve come across catatonia in a romantic context,

Patients with catatonic depression are believed to suffer from excessive fear, leading to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. In the case of Erica, I believe her extreme traumatic experience caused her mind to go into eclipse mode to prevent herself from feeling the pain of reality. It’s the result of an excessive fear response. Her mind ‘chose’ to switch off or temporarily freeze all emotions and movements.” (Chapter 8)

and I was spent just thinking about what I would do if I were to be in either Erica or Melvin’s shoes—or any of the characters’. (LORD, PLEASE NO, NEVER.)

“But the fact is, Melvin, you set off whatever it was she’s afraid of. And now she’s in a place we cannot reach. Being with you may further push her down to a cliff from which she may never come back. You will do more damage to her than good.” (Chapter 8)

Just damn heartbreaking. But it doesn’t stop at that. There were other problems playing into it: cheating, obsessed one-time lovers, broken friendships, crazy parents, dead cats, unsolved crime, (Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) unborn babies crying out “love me, please, Mommy.” It was a smorgasbord of emotional black hole-forming elements.

“A few hours from now, the court will grant the annulment of our marriage.” Each word was torture. But I had to keep on, even though there was a very slim chance that she is hearing me. “I didn’t want it, babe,” I rasped, my voice breaking. I cleared my throat. “I only agreed to do it for your sake. Now they’re taking you far away from me. It’s so unfair. Why can’t they understand?” My chest was so laden with sorrow and grief at her parents’ betrayal. (Chapter 10)

My anxiety about the resolution was only understandable. How careful would it be, how reflective of and close to the truths we know would it be? Now, while I’m sure other readers will find some holes in how the story closed, I found the ending quite satisfying (and surprising, which I’ll talk about in the next section). I felt like there were no loose ties left behind, and that the author was able to cover all gaping wounds in the best possible way.

 

HOWEVER

(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) Melvin’s father, Edgar, as the suspect—I didn’t see that one coming. He appeared in a few pages, and was always portrayed as a good one, almost harmless. Who would have thought! Still waters run deep, etc., huh? Plus points for the author, I guess, for being clever. But then again, minus points for being deus ex machina-ish (if that makes sense). I felt a little betrayal, is all, like he was blamed so that the others could be redeemed. (Or is it that I can’t accept I wasn’t able to see it coming?!)

tl;dr

Chroma Hearts by Mayumi Cruz is a gripping and thought-provoking story about fighting for love against mental illness, with a side of crime solving. Strongly recommended for those who enjoy mind-stirring and heart-squeezing.

☁️

The reviewer received a digital copy from the author in exchange for honest thoughts. Read our Review Policy here.
Mayumi Cruz is also a Bookbed contributor. Read her winning Fictory piece titled Black Love here. Visit her website here.
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2 replies on “Bookbed reviews: ‘Chroma Hearts’ by Mayumi Cruz

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