Daniel Kraus is one of the most fascinating writers working today. After my first exposure to his work, the wildly original and horrifying Rotters, I have come to expect the unexpected. Kraus blew away all my expectations with his ambitious Zebulon Finch books. His fruitful collaborations with Guillermo del Toro exposed Kraus to audiences all over the world.

Still, I didn't expect to hear that Kraus was doing a Hard Case Crime novel. And one that deals with deadly Halloween candy? That was surprising enough, but then I received an Advance Reading Copy and I started the novel. Once again, I was shocked by what Daniel Kraus had up his devious sleeve.

Blood Sugar is mostly written from the perspective of a low income young street urchin. Charles Dickens for the projects, you might say. The startling use of language Kraus employs recalls A Clockwork Orange, and other reviews have made the comparison. It reminds me a bit of Jack Womack's searing dystopian novel, Random Acts of Senseless Violence. But Blood Sugar is really nothing like these novels. It is wholly original and absolutely compelling.

The colorful narrator of Blood Sugar, Jody, is obviously intelligent, but a product of parental neglect, poverty, malnutrition, and the corrosive influences of street life. Jody, his maladjusted adopted sister, and their slumming wealthy friend spent time at the horrifyingly disgusting home of a misfit adult named Robbie. Robbie's desperation, resentment, and madness brew into a nasty plan of revenge for Halloween night.

Parts of Blood Sugar made me cringe and I nearly even gagged a couple of times. Other times I was laughing out loud while reading. Yet through the squalor and hopeless I detected grains of nobility in the characters. Jody's passionate obsession for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings plays a fairly significant role in it all.

Blood Sugar is a striking novel, brilliantly written and completely credible. It's scream-out-loud funny, yet heartbreakingly sad. Outrageous but oddly uplifting. It's easily Kraus's most bugfuck novel, which is saying something, and it just might be his best. Blood Sugar is certainly one of my favorite books in a year of exceptional publications.

What's next for the ever-surprising Daniel Kraus? A major novel, Bent Heavens, is up for preorder now. And what is obviously most exciting for horror fans, Kraus has completed a Living Dead manuscript that was started by none other than George Romero.

Written by Mark Sieber

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