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Scowler
Cover of Scowler
Scowler
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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.

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.

Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.6
  • Lexile:
    850
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book The Blamings of the Birds
    Sunday, August 23, 1981
    20 Hrs., 10 Mins. Until Impact
    A tooth was missing and that was never a pleasant thing. It was going on thirty minutes that Ry and Sarah had been after it. When the tiny white kernel had shaken loose from her mouth, Sarah had been staring up at the sky, something she did these days with escalating frequency. The brilliance of the cloudless blue seemed not to faze her, nor did the nip of the heavy and sluggish mosquitoes. She would go blind that way, and Ry knew that was bad; also bad, though, was the unhappy notion that this flat, dull stretch of moribund farmland contained a realm of fascination that in all his years he'd been either unwilling or unable to notice.
    What she was looking for were meteors. According to the radio, Sarah was a good eight or nine hours early, but none of the estimates had addressed whether or not you could see meteors during the day. Sarah was just covering her bases. Most kids her age had long forgotten their teachers' reminders of this celestial event from back in June, because those reminders had carried the unpleasant whiff of homework. Not Sarah. She had stayed up late in April to see the luminous trains of dust cast from the Lyrids; she'd had a fit when a July thunderstorm had robbed her of watching the Delta Aquariids; and two weeks ago she had noted all thirty-­four Perseids she'd seen by making hatch marks in a spiral-­bound notebook. But the passing of the Jaekel Belt was the big one, a cosmic event so rare she'd not witness it again until she was an unimaginable forty-­four years old. To be safe she'd started craning her neck days ago—­she was well aware that trusting the estimates of small-­town schoolteachers and radio personalities was risky.
    Interrupting this rigorous scientific observation was an event less rare but almost as exciting: the falling of a baby tooth. The cuspid had dropped while Ry had been busy uprooting the rusted Cardan shaft of a long-­dead baler from the dirt, and who knows how long Sarah had gone before noticing the line of pink blood that crept down her neck. It was only when Ry barreled the soft beam of metal into the drainage ditch and whooped in victory did his sister come alive. She touched the blood and showed it to him.
    Ry wasn't dumb enough to think that his sister believed in the tooth fairy; rather, she believed in money as she believed in nothing else. They all did. It was the thing that had been draining noisily from the farm for a decade now, for Sarah's entire life, and Ry knew that she hungered after it like a pirate. The whole thing was ugly and he didn't like to see it; his sister was eleven, pigeon-­toed, proficient at dirtying clothes within seconds of donning them, and blessed with cerulean eyes and the downy blond crown of an angel—­she was the kind of kid who stared up at the sky in hopes of seeing something from storybooks. It troubled Ry that Sarah's dreamy guilelessness was boned with the sharp and cornered calculations of a handful of grimy coins.
    Stiff mufflers of August heat wrapped around their necks and bleak exhales of dust bloated about their ankles as they scuffed their toes through the dirt of the McCafferty Forty. This field and the five others bordering the farm had once commanded dizzying ranks of corn, soybean, hay, wheat, oat, and sorghum. Countless times in the past, Ry had put his hands to the dirt and felt for the hidden heartbeat, but it had been as futile as searching for meteor trails in broad daylight. Only his father had ever had the ability to speak to the land.
    Marvin Burke was a man whose shadow still chilled the entire county. Merchants and...
About the Author-
  • DANIEL KRAUS is a writer, an editor, and a filmmaker. He lives with his wife in Chicago. Daniel's upcoming book, with Guillermo del Toro, is Trollhunters. Visit him at DanielKraus.com and follow him on Twitter @DanielDKraus.



Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 21, 2013
    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.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2013
    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)

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2013

    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

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Adele Griffin, two-time National Book Award finalist "Daniel Kraus writes raw and deft and dangerous. Consider yourself warned."
  • Booklist "A boldly visceral coming-of-age story that explores the darkest spaces in family life and the shocking resilience of the human psyche."
  • Rue-Morgue.com "Scowler is dark, poetic, and challenging."
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    Random House Children's Books
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