cover image Scowler


Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne. Listening Library, unabridged, nine CDs, 11.5 hrs., $45 ISBN 978-0-385-36835-3

In Kraus’s novel set in 1981, 19-year-old protagonist Ry Burke is living with his mother and sister on their eroding Iowa farm when a meteorite shower falls on the nearby prison, freeing Ry’s criminally abusive father. The return of his near-demonic dad, whom he helped to convict, sends Ry into the embrace of three imaginary protectors from his childhood: a kindly bear named Mr. Furrington, an all-knowing Jesus, and an impatient, violent Scowler. Narrator Kirby Heyborne’s portrayal of Ry’s shift from complacent teen to family defender is successful. In giving voice to Ry’s imaginary friends, Heyborne adds a British accent to the ever-optimistic Furrington, a bland blissfulness to Jesus, and a chilling ferocity to Scowler. Additionally, Heyborne pushes the envelope in making Ry’s father a monstrous force that even the author may have never imagined. The result is a truly chilling, blood-drenched tale. A note of caution: the book’s graphic description of violence and torture is not softened—and is perhaps even intensified—in this audio edition. Ages 14–up. A Delacorte hardcover. (March)