The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

From Book Trigger Warnings
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Cover of The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Author(s) John Boyne
Published February 9, 2017
Publisher Doubleday
Genre(s) Contemporary fiction
Age group Adult

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne is an adult contemporary fiction novel, originally published on February 9, 2017.

Trigger Warnings

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  • Alcohol
    Characters drink alcohol on many occasions and many scenes are set in pubs but none have an ongoing alcohol problem
  • Amputation
    One character's ear is shot off in an assassination attempt and one character has their ear, a finger and a toe amputated after being kidnapped in the 1959 part. There is also later discussion, in the 1987 part, of this character having to choose between what the kidnappers would amputate next
  • Assault
    Several instances of violent assault, three resulting in death (in the 1945, 1980 and 1987 parts)
  • Attempted murder
    An assassination attempt results in a character's ear being shot off in the 1959 part
  • Blood
    Multiple instances of blood due to violence
  • Cancer/Terminal cancer
    In the 1959, 1994, 2001 and 2015 parts
  • Cheating
    One character cheating on their spouse is mentioned quite frequently and another character cheats in the 1966 part
  • Child death
    Mention of a baby being drowned in the 1945 part and mention of a character having lost a child
  • Childbirth
    Description in the 1945 part and then mention in the 2001 part
  • Death
    In the 1945, 1959 (mention), 1966, 1980, 1987, 1994, 2001, 2008 (mentions and visit to a graveyard) and 2015 (mentions) parts (not all of these deaths are major characters)
  • Drugs
    Mention of a character struggling with addiction and there being visible injection sites on their body in the 1980 part
  • Emesis
    Once near the beginning of the 1980 part after someone is punched in the stomach but possibly other instances
  • Genocide (mention)
    Mention and discussion of Holocaust in the 1980 part
  • Gore
    Several instances of violence where there is blood, teeth knocked out, bones broken or serious and permanent injury
  • Gun violence
    There is an assassination attempt using a gun in the 1959 part
  • Hallucinations
    The main character sees and talks to characters who aren't alive anymore in the 2015 part
  • Homophobia/Queerphobia
    Frequent homophobia; there is a violent hate crime in the 1945 part and the main character witnesses and experiences homophobia throughout the book, including being spat at and a violent hate crime in the 1987 part
  • Hospitalisation
    Quite a lot of the 1987 part is set in a hospital and relates to the AIDS pandemic and in the 1994 part a character mentions having been hospitalised after a violent attack. Some of the 2001 part is set in hospital too
  • Incest (mention)
    In the 2008 part, a character talks about having had an affair with their mother's sister's husband who isn't much older than them - they are referred to as an uncle though
  • Infertility (brief mention)
    It is mentioned that the main character's adoptive parents were unable to have children after losing a child
  • Kidnapping
    A character is kidnapped in the 1959 part
  • Murder
    In the 1945 part (violent assault), 1980 part (stab wound provoked by the other character attacking first) and 1987 part (violent assault)
  • Needles
    In the 1966 part needles are used as a form of aversion therapy and characters in hospital have IV drips in the 1987 part
  • Pregnancy
    The whole of the 1945 part
  • Profanity throughout
  • Prostitution
    In the 1980 part a character is having to make money through sex work in Amsterdam and their pimp won't let them leave and a different character mentions having been with a prostitute. In the 2001 part, the character who was working as a prostitute in Amsterdam discusses being forced into sex work
  • Sexual abuse
    A character being forced into prostitution by family members is discussed in the 1980 and 2001 parts
  • Sexually explicit scenes
    Several instances, mostly in the first half of the book
  • Slut shaming
    At the very beginning of the book a character is publicly shamed and called a w**** for being pregnant out of wedlock
  • Terrorism
    In the 1966 part, the main character witnesses Nelson's Pillar collapsing, as a result of the IRA planting explosives. The main character also witnesses and describes footage of 9/11 on the news in the 2001 part
  • Torture
    When a character is kidnapped in the 1959 part, their ear, a finger and a toe are cut off
  • Violence
    Fairly frequent throughout. 1945: assault and murder 1952: a fight 1959: kidnapping, torture and amputation 1973 a character is punched 1980: a character is punched, there is a fight and someone dies as a result 1987: assault and murder 1994: discussion of the assault and murder in 1987


  • Gay main character*
  • Gay side characters*


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