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Review: Scowler by Daniel Kraus

Saturday, March 30, 2013
by Daniel Kraus

4.5 Stars: A Good Read
Hardback: 304 Pages
Publication: March 12, 2013 by Delacorte BFYR

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 scrape by for 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.

Ry, his mother, and little sister are trying to recover from a nightmare: Ry's abusive father Marvin Burke. Back when he was only ten years old, Ry saved his mother and had Marvin put away in prison for the unspeakable abusive things he did to them. At that time, he got help from his childhood toys, the Unnamed Three (who are actually different facets of Ry's personality): Mr. Furrington, which is a small teal teddy bear; Jesus Christ, which is a robber figurine, and the Scowler, which is the ugliest: a disgusting hunk. Nine years later, Ry needs Unnamed Three’s help again because Marvin has broken out of prison and threatens their family once again. He never wants his father to do what he did to his mother and little sister ever again.

I really feel for Ry. Knowing what it is like to live in an abusive home, he wants nothing more than to not be like his father. However, he knows there is a chance that he could become like his father. That's why he can't let himself get angry. If he does, he will let out the Scowler within him, and Scowler is dark and brutal. However, it becomes clear that his father will continue to hurt, haunt, and manipulate the family until he gets what he wants. And Ry knows that he needs to become Scowler to protect his family. Ry's conflicting desires to run away from the potential darkness within him and to take care of his mother and sister are central to who he is as a character and person.

Scowler is bloody, frightful, and shocking, filled with tension and driven by Ry's fear of his father's return. If you can't stomach a lot of violence or language. This may not be the book for you. There are a lot of brutal, graphic descriptions of calculated violence. I don't know how a human can do such things to another human being. I kept having to put this book down, and yet I couldn't stop reading it. It's so enthralling.

This novel is all about how ugly humans can be, and sometimes are, to one another. Also, it deals with spousal and child abuse. Kraus knows the horror genre well. He leaves you guessing whether Ry will become a good person or if he will turn into the kind of man like his father.

Recommended for upper YA readers.

A copy was provided by Random House for review.

2 comments on "Review: Scowler by Daniel Kraus"
  1. I can't believe I hadn't heard of this book before now! It sounds like my perfect type of book. Thanks for the review!
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  2. Kimberly, thank you. You will love the book.


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