Sunday Shorts – “Hearts Alight,” by Elliot Cooper

CoverDave Cunningham hates the rampant consumerism that’s come to dominate his family’s Hanukkah celebrations. But a chance to bring a bit of a holiday happiness to his long-time crush, Amit Cohen, helps put him in a more festive mood.

In the quest to craft the perfect gift, Dave tries to urge a few personal details out of stoic Amit. Unintentionally, he learns the Cohen family’s secret: Amit is a golem. But Amit has a problem that runs deeper than his magical origin, and a Hanukkah miracle might be the only thing that will keep the budding flame between him and Dave from going out.

This was such a lovely little holiday novella on so many fronts, and I snuggled right into it. Dave was so easy to identify with: he’s a gaming nerd, so done with holiday consumerism, and frustrated at feeling the guilt of not being able to be “on par” with the gift-giving going on around him. He’s also just awkward enough to get in his own way, and overthinking himself out of confidence. In short, he’s adorable.

The dash of holiday magic here is in the Golem, yes, but also in the blending of family, friendship, compassion and the shared desire to give, but not in the consumerism way. That it also involved some Dungeons & Dragons, latkes and a little bit of golem magic just made it all the more up my alley. Also, the wide range of queer identities included here bears mentioning, including a bi main character, and a trans man supporting character.

Hearts Alight is completely charming.

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