Blood Sugar by Daniel Kraus

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Blood Sugar by Daniel Kraus

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Stephen Leach
Reviewed by Stephen Leach
Summary: Short, snappy, and delightfully nasty – it might take you a while to acquire the taste, but you won't forget this book in a hurry once you do.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 224 Date: October 2019
Publisher: Hard Case Crime
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1789091939

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This is a difficult read. And not because of the dark subject matter – that'll come later – but because of the way in which it's told. This might put a lot of readers off, and to be honest it'd be hard to blame them. Kraus tells the story in a distinctive voice unlike any other I've read; an erratic dialect with heavy and frequent slang. The immediate effect is disorientating and distracting, and it takes some time to feel natural. It's a struggle to acclimatise to Jody's voice, to get acquainted with his mannerisms, but the story wouldn't be the same without it, and somehow it works. It shouldn't, but it does.

Blood Sugar isn't really a Halloween story – it's just when the story is set. Instead, it's more a story of revenge; of awful situations and the terrible things people can do to one another. The plot centres around a twentysomething loner and young shutaway by the name of Robbie, who has plotted a nasty scheme to get revenge on those who have made his life a misery, and enlists Jody and his friends to help him enact it. The fact that this is shown through the eyes of the children is no accident: but they brush it off, not fully understanding the implications or the consequences, because that's what children do – especially when they've grown up in the inner city, witnessing brutality on an almost everyday basis. It's almost possible to miss or to forget the environment this story is set in, but Kraus cleverly avoids making it too grim; the narrative is sprinkled with subversive and often juvenile humour.

This is an original, vicious, but delightful little tale (it's a short read, only barely making it past 200 pages) and it's refreshing. It's certainly not for everyone, but go in with an open mind. You might enjoy it much more than you expect.

It's still October for a little while, so if you're still in the mood to be creeped out, I can recommend The Dark by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen.

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