Review by Ardy Hart

A Wildness of the Heart by Madison Scott-Clary is a collection of stories focusing on, as you could probably guess, how wild our hearts can be. It’s about attraction and our reactions—in many forms—to that attraction. Love is full of happy moments, scary moments, and moments that may push us to a turning point. Madison Scott-Clary illustrates these moments with a beautiful, and often brutal, sense of reality that I found ultimately refreshing.

A Wildness of the Heart is composed of six stories: Jump, Limerent Object, Gigs, Sorting Laundry, Morning Of, and Of Foxes and Milkshakes.

Jump is about a loving couple that spend their days shoplifting from whatever gas stations they can find. Sim, a ferret, loves the thrill, but Ursula, a bear, is getting tired of it. Sim promised her more than a hard life on the road, and now she’s coming face-to-face with her desire of wanting more. But what can she do with how little she has?

Limerent Object, the longest of the six (and its own book), is about a catholic coyote struggling with the concept of limerence—the state of being infatuated or obsessed with someone. When Dee, the coyote in question, develops this type of attraction for his best friend and fellow coyote, Kay, it sends his mind into a whirlwind of confusion. When did this start, and where should he go from here, are only a couple of the questions that he needs to answer. Combined with the trouble he experienced in his past about his future in the church, he’s not certain about much. Just that he desires a connection with Kay, and that’s worth exploring.

Gigs is about a lynx and a fox pair struggling with everyday life. Winter, the lynx, lost her job and needs to find a new one. Her fox partner, Katrin, helps as much as she can, but it isn’t until a chance meeting with a barista through a driving app that Winter finds an opportunity, as well as a friend. Although short, this story was well-written and a pleasure to read.

Sorting Laundry, the shortest story of the bunch, is about, well, sorting laundry. Honestly it’s two pages and it packs a punch. A good, heartfelt punch. Worth the read.

Morning Of is another bite-sized story about a trans boy wolf prepping for his surgery. It’s only after I read this story that I realized I hadn’t read any stories about trans people. It’s a perspective I’d like to read more into, and I encourage everyone to read more like this one.

Of Foxes and Milkshakes is about, well, foxes and milkshakes. A pair of young fox boys go out to have milkshakes for a date, but when the waiter expresses her disgust with the two, they have to leave. The following conversation is a tense one; they must decide where their relationship goes. Another punch to the gut.

This collection of stories was incredibly refreshing. I think this is because I rarely read slice-of-life kinds of books for the main reason that they aren’t incredibly exciting. Every story in A Wildness of the Heart proved me wrong though. These small moments in our lives are so important, and Madison Scott-Clary has such a beautiful way of storytelling that really resonated with me. The logical flow of some characters’ thoughts, mixed with great language, make these stories feel real, even if the characters are all anthropomorphic animals. It was a pleasure to read, and if I didn’t have to put my laptop down, I wouldn’t.

This book would appeal to anyone interested in furry literature as well as more memoir-style fiction. It’s very “slice-of-life” in a pleasant way.