cover image Scowler


Daniel Kraus. Delacorte, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-74309-9

No stranger to dark and disturbing stories, Kraus (Rotters) continues to push the envelope with this hallucinatory, dread-soaked tale set in 1981. Nineteen-year-old Ry Burke lives with his mother and sister on a dying Iowa farm, still haunted by the events that landed his abusive monster of a father in prison nine years ago. A freak meteorite strike gives Ry’s father the opportunity to escape and come home, resulting in a brutal struggle for survival. To save his loved ones, Ry summons up the three imaginary friends who helped him last time, risking the same descent into madness that claimed his father. While Ry’s desperate journey into manhood is gripping, with Kraus skillfully amplifying a sense of tension and claustrophobia, much of the book’s subtlety is lost in the chaotic latter half, which is part fever dream, part slasher film. The narrative is littered with graphic violence and extreme body horror, which may be too much for many readers (though perhaps not for fans of The Marbury Lens). The end result is a memorably brutal assault on the senses, not for the fainthearted or delicate. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)