Title: Bent Heavens
Author: Daniel Kraus
Release date: February 25th, 2020
*Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Novel (2020)*
For many of you, you’ll have already read Kraus. A NYT Bestselling Author, Daniel co-authored both ‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘Trollhunters’ with Guillermo del Toro as well as ‘The Living Dead’ with George A. Romero. Combine that with his numerous individual releases and you find that Kraus is incredibly prolific and writing between Adult and YA fiction.
I can’t exactly recall when ‘Bent Heavens’ came onto my radar (I’m 99% sure it was on IG where Jen aka bookdenjen posted about it) but no matter, the premise was intriguing and I was excited when it made it to the top of my TBR.
What I liked: The story follows Grade 12 student, Liv Fleming, who is struggling to live her life after the events surrounding her father occurred. Her dad, Lee, used to be a teacher at her school. Then, he seemed to go crazy, convinced that he was abducted by aliens and that they would come back for him.
He goes about setting up elaborate traps in the woods behind their place, hoping to catch them, before one day he disappears, never to be seen again.
Then one day, while Liv and her childhood friend, Doug, are checking the traps, something they do every Sunday, keeping her dad’s spirit alive, they find something.
It’s from here that Kraus really races ahead. I loved the build to this moment, we get to see Liv trying to fit in with new friend’s at school, while still looking out for aloof Doug, and we see her potentially meet and fall for a new boy, someone who doesn’t know her past.
Kraus does a phenomenal job of slowly decaying Liv and Doug’s friendship, of seeing how this thing they’ve found affects them differently, how Doug wants to continue exacting revenge for taking Lee from them, this man who’d grown to become a father figure to him, while Liv wants to be protective of it, to try and find out information that might lead to the return of her father, that is, if he’s still alive.
The final quarter of this book races along, especially as truths are revealed and a new, horrific reality emerges. I absolutely loved what we discover and it reminded me of a few of my favorite books (which I won’t mention to stay spoiler free).
This book was filled with so many emotions, Kraus really knocks the reader for a loop and makes sure that you want to come back and discover more of just what is going on.
What I didn’t like: While it worked for me, the ‘learning of the truth’ section may completely derail this for some readers. I think it was really well done and the clues make sense and are unseen until revealed, making it so so heartbreaking, but some readers may not enjoy it as much as I did.
Why you should buy this: As always, never, ever, let a YA designation discourage you from reading a book. This gets as brutal and graphic as anything out there. If you’re looking for a haunting story, of a family torn apart, trying to grapple with their new life, while wondering just what actually happened, this will fit the bill nicely. Additionally, Kraus does us all a solid and gives us tangible answers, as well as a physical being that might’ve been alluded too or left out entirely by other authors and for that, we benefit.
This was outstanding and I’m so glad to have read it.
One thought on “Book Review: Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus”
I LOVED Kraus’s Blood Sugar, another of his high-emotion books. It had young people, too, but it was more of a coming-of-age story than a YA story.