Scowler

Overview

Equal parts haunting and horrifying, this literary horror novel gives readers insight into the mind of a controlling homicidal man and the son who must stop him. 

"Marvin Burke is one of the great monsters of literature, a figure of immense, credible terror and savagery."—Cory Doctorow, author of Little Children and coeditor of Boing Boing

Imagine your father is a monster. Would that mean there are ...

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Scowler

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Overview

Equal parts haunting and horrifying, this literary horror novel gives readers insight into the mind of a controlling homicidal man and the son who must stop him. 

"Marvin Burke is one of the great monsters of literature, a figure of immense, credible terror and savagery."—Cory Doctorow, author of Little Children and coeditor of Boing Boing

Imagine your father is a monster. Would that mean there are monsters inside you, too?
Nineteen-year-old Ry Burke, his mother, and little sister eke out a living on their dying family farm. Ry wishes for anything to distract him from the grim memories of his father’s physical and emotional abuse. Then a meteorite falls from the sky, bringing with it not only a fragment from another world but also the arrival of a ruthless man intent on destroying the entire family. Soon Ry is forced to defend himself by resurrecting a trio of imaginary childhood protectors: kindly Mr. Furrington, wise Jesus, and the bloodthirsty Scowler.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
“Marvin [Burke] is one of the great monsters of literature, a figure of immense, credible terror and savagery.” —Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and coeditor of Boing Boing
 
“The demon offspring of Stephen King’s The Shining and Hitchcock’s Psycho.” —Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Gone and BRZK
 
“A memorable, brutal assault on the senses, not for the fainthearted or delicate.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“Daniel Kraus writes raw and deft and dangerous. Consider yourself warned.” —Adele Griffin, two-time National Book Award finalist
 
“A boldly visceral coming-of-age story that explores the darkest spaces in family life and the shocking resilience of the human psyche.” —Booklist
 
“This book has the pacing of a Stephen King movie, and it never lets up in its gruesomeness.” —School Library Journal
 
“Connoisseurs of the grotesque have come to the right place, as Kraus’ impeccable sense of thriller timing spins out the terror.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
 
“A Midwestern gothic family saga that will hook readers.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“So unrelentingly bleak, it stretches the very definition of YA horror.” —Bloody-Disgusting.com
 
Scowler is dark, poetic, and challenging.” —Rue-Morgue.com
 
“For lovers of dark thrillers and horror narratives, Scowler is one crazy roller-coaster ride.” —Portland Book Review
 
“Bound to scare up many jaw-dropping reactions.” —Chicago Tribune
 
A Tayshas Reading List Selection
 
A Junior Library Guild Selection
School Library Journal
Gr 11 Up—This book has the pacing of a Stephen King movie, and it never lets up on the gruesomeness. Ry Burke's boyhood was riddled with brutal abuse and near death at the ruthless hand of a father whom he referred to as the monster. As Ry became older, his father's violence intensified. Then one morning, after being told not to bother his mother because she was sick, Ry knew that something was wrong and proceeded to investigate. What he saw caused him to make a courageous decision that would forever change his life and his family's. Flash-forward some years later to the '80s, and readers find 19-year-old Ry's father in prison and his mother and younger sister using the countdown to a forthcoming meteorite crash as a diversion from the grim existence on their barren family farm. When they find out that there was an explosion at the prison and that the father has escaped and is headed home to seek revenge, the news shatters Ry's fragile psyche, forcing him to resurrect a trio of imaginary childhood friends (the all-knowing Jesus Christ, kind and gentle Mr. Furrington, and bloodthirsty Scowler) for protective support. The metaphor of the meteorite countdown enhances the tense, dark, and creepy chill factor of this gritty, well-written thriller. It's a perfect choice for mature horror readers who are looking to bridge the gap between YA and adult selections.—Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A meteor shower forms the backdrop for a teen boy's Donnie Darko–like nightmare in 1981 small-town Iowa. Haunted by his past, 19-year-old Ry Burke strives to survive on a slowly deteriorating Midwestern farm with his mother and his precocious sister. Nine years before, Ry took a baseball bat and bashed in the face of his aggressive, abusive father, Marvin, after he discovered his dad had sewn his mother's naked body into the sheets of their bed. His subsequent ordeals are grisly and bloody. He's aided by three totemic objects that he calls the Unnamed Three: a blue teddy bear named Mr. Furrington, a statuette of Jesus Christ, and an antique wooden doll with sunken eyes and metal insides that he calls Scowler. All three make a timely return to the Burke household on the eve of a meteor shower to defeat his father, who has broken out of prison and threatens their family once again. Weird? Yes. Compelling? Mostly. Kraus' latest will challenge both readers' patience and their ability to suspend disbelief as they follow Ry through the harrowing evening and following few days. The plot walks the line between believable and over-the-top, and the devoted--sometimes distractingly so--attention to detail may thrill critics but underwhelm teens. A Midwestern gothic family saga that will hook readers--or scare them away. (Horror. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385743105
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 12/9/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 559,074
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Lexile: 850L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

DANIEL KRAUS is a writer, an editor, and a filmmaker. He lives with his wife in Chicago. His newest work, Trollhunters, is written with Guillermo del Toro. Visit him at DanielKraus.com and follow him on Twitter @DanielDKraus.

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