cover image Husk


Dave Zeltserman. Severn, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8802-0

In Zeltserman’s disappointing contemporary monster tale, a backwoods cannibal strives to break away from his murderous clan after he falls in love with a city girl. On a procurement trip to find people for his clan’s consumption, narrator Charlie Husk spots Jill Zemler at a Massachusetts rest stop. Her boyfriend, Ethan, abandons her there after a public fight, and Charlie offers her a ride. Charlie soon falls for Jill and sets out to escape his family’s hold and make a life with her. Though Jill doesn’t know Charlie at all, she almost immediately invites him to crash in her N.Y.C. apartment, where he has to contend with Jill’s nosy best friend, his lack of a social security number, and his craving for human flesh. Charlie spends most of the story skulking about and menacing people around New York City and fails to elicit much empathy, though Zeltserman takes pains to emphasize the ingrained effects of his family’s ritualistic and aberrant generational practices. Charlie struggles with and repeatedly references his otherness, and people have shocked reactions when his “mask” slips, but whether his strangeness is purely human or of supernatural origin remains unclear to the reader. A final twist at the end fails to elevate this hard-to-stomach love story. Agent: Paula Munier, Talcott Notch. (Sept.)