cover image Ugly Faces

Ugly Faces

Brian Lupo. Brian Lupo, $4.99 e-book (111p) ISBN 979-8-9857067-1-0

Lupo (Goat’s Head) offers an unnerving tale of paranoia and phobia in this disturbing psychological horror novel. Over winter break at Red Falls University, law student Lexi plans to drive to her parent’s house in San Francisco with her best friend, Rachel. When Rachel cancels, Lexi must make the 439-mile drive by herself—an angst-ridden proposition. Ever since getting lost in the woods during a family hike at age eight and being discovered by two men with strange and terrifying faces who sexually assaulted her, Lexi is afraid of open spaces, enclosed spaces, strangers, and men in general. Still, she’s determined to overcome her fear by completing the solo trip. Along the route, she’s rattled by a truck that cuts her off, an accident on the side of the road, a dangerous storm, and incessant calls from her parents. When she sees a clown driving a black car with a dead body in the passenger seat, she wonders if she’s gone completely off the rails. But then she learns that a serial killer is on the loose. After the clown runs her off the road, she fights to keep her intense paranoia and feelings of abandonment from impeding her ability to survive. Despite occasional clunky language, Lupo commendably builds tension at each stage of Lexi’s predicament. The result is a character-driven thriller replete with suspense, distress, and surprises. (Self-published)