Mother Howl

Watkins. Jun. 2023. 11:02 hrs. ISBN 9781915523198. $24.04. THRILLER
After an 18-year hiatus, Clevenger (Dermaphoria) returns with a sweeping story of cursed bloodlines and self-discovery. Lyle Edison is a husband and father who is just trying to stay out of trouble. Before he became Lyle Edison, however, he was the son of a serial killer who murdered nine women. Shunned and attacked by society for his father’s sins, Lyle thought all he needed was a name change. However, after Lyle’s years of living under an assumed identity, an enigmatic giant of a man named Icarus, who may not even be a man, threatens to reveal Lyle’s deepest secrets. Clevenger imbues his protagonist’s mundane existence with an evocative beauty and a rough lyricism that is well matched to Icarus’s otherworldly perceptions. Narrator Greg Lockett gives Lyle an everyman quality that shows his quick wit and fiery passion. Lockett helps Icarus stand out by giving him a Southern drawl seasoned with unique euphemisms, such as calling the body he’s inhabiting “this here monkey leather.”
VERDICT Though this story doesn’t mention cypress trees or bayous, Lyle’s attempts to reconcile the blood in his veins with the content of his character bring to mind the best Southern gothic fiction.
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