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Blood Sugar

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At the end of Yellow Street, in a ruined junkyard of a house, an angry outcast hatches a scheme to take revenge for all the wrongs he has suffered. With the help of three alienated neighborhood kids, he plans to hide razor blades, poison, drugs, and broken glass in Halloween candy and use the deadly treats to maim or kill dozens of innocent children. But as the clock ticks At the end of Yellow Street, in a ruined junkyard of a house, an angry outcast hatches a scheme to take revenge for all the wrongs he has suffered. With the help of three alienated neighborhood kids, he plans to hide razor blades, poison, drugs, and broken glass in Halloween candy and use the deadly treats to maim or kill dozens of innocent children. But as the clock ticks closer to sundown, will one of his helpers—an innocent himself, in his own streetwise way—carry out or defeat the plan?


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At the end of Yellow Street, in a ruined junkyard of a house, an angry outcast hatches a scheme to take revenge for all the wrongs he has suffered. With the help of three alienated neighborhood kids, he plans to hide razor blades, poison, drugs, and broken glass in Halloween candy and use the deadly treats to maim or kill dozens of innocent children. But as the clock ticks At the end of Yellow Street, in a ruined junkyard of a house, an angry outcast hatches a scheme to take revenge for all the wrongs he has suffered. With the help of three alienated neighborhood kids, he plans to hide razor blades, poison, drugs, and broken glass in Halloween candy and use the deadly treats to maim or kill dozens of innocent children. But as the clock ticks closer to sundown, will one of his helpers—an innocent himself, in his own streetwise way—carry out or defeat the plan?

30 review for Blood Sugar

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kemper

    If you want an idea of how gross this book is, the first person narrator has a case of untreated pink-eye, and that’s just the start. But hey, it’s in addition to being completely disgusting it’s also depressing as hell. I’m selling the hell out of this one, aren’t I? The crazy thing is that it’s a very good book, one of the best I’ve read this year. But it’s not exactly a joy ride. Robbie is a complete outcast that is hated by everyone in town. He lives in a decaying house that’s fil If you want an idea of how gross this book is, the first person narrator has a case of untreated pink-eye, and that’s just the start. But hey, it’s in addition to being completely disgusting it’s also depressing as hell. I’m selling the hell out of this one, aren’t I? The crazy thing is that it’s a very good book, one of the best I’ve read this year. But it’s not exactly a joy ride. Robbie is a complete outcast that is hated by everyone in town. He lives in a decaying house that’s filled with junk, trash, bugs, and mice, and his only friends are three young kids. He decides to finally get revenge on the community by lacing Halloween candy with drugs and razor blades, and he wants the kids to help. However, Robbie isn’t exactly a criminal mastermind, and his minions aren’t much better. Jody’s mother has mental health issues so he’s pretty much raising himself as well as the young mute foster kid, Midge, that his mom took in for the money. Unfortunately, Jody’s ideas of health and hygiene leave a lot to be desired. Jody’s schoolmate Dag comes from a seemingly solid middle class family, but while she may have nicer clothes and a better diet, she has her own issues. The thing about this book is that it’s so far off from your usual narrative that it’s hard to even describe. On the surface it’s about a lowlife enlisting three at-risk children to help him poison kids on Halloween so Robbie should be the villain of a story told to us by Jody. However, as the story unfolds and we learn more about the backgrounds of each character you realize that not everything is as it seems. Robbie may be a disgusting dirtbag who is out to kill some innocent trick-or-treaters, but gradually you learn that he’s got a tragic backstory of his own so that you can’t help but feel some sympathy towards him by the end. There’s also some very clever things going on in regards to the narration and structure of the book. Most of the story come from Jody’s first person account, and since he’s a not-too-bright kid who is a poster boy for neglect his account is mainly made up slang and references to the Lord of the Rings movies he loves so it takes some translation to even understand what Jody is talking about. We also get some interludes that are letters that Robbie writes to various people, and it quickly becomes clear that he has his own problems. There’s also some letters from Dag, and while she’s obviously the smartest of the crew we learn what led her to befriend these people who are so clearly not part of the same social or economic class as her. It’s great writing that establishes the different voices, and it also pays off as each revelation makes the story become clear. Eventually we understand everyone, even the mute Midge, and their tales are all heartbreaking in one way or another. The book left me feeling sickened, but it wasn’t the gross and filthy details that did it. It was the way these young people were all abandoned or let down so that they ended up in these circumstances while no one around them seemed to notice or care. OK, so some of it was the gross and filthy details. Seriously, I was glad I had a tetanus shot recently while reading this, but it’s totally worth it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror

    Before you read BLOOD SUGAR by Daniel Kraus, I feel this sense of responsibility to set you up for success. I don’t want this book to fall victim to a litany of reviews that focus on the unusual storytelling. Daniel Kraus has made a bold choice using his protagonist Jody to be the primary narrative. Jody’s voice is audacious, unabashed and full of slang terms, both familiar and unfamiliar. At first, it’s distracting but soon, the reader will grow accustomed to Jody’s unique wordsmithing and the Before you read BLOOD SUGAR by Daniel Kraus, I feel this sense of responsibility to set you up for success. I don’t want this book to fall victim to a litany of reviews that focus on the unusual storytelling. Daniel Kraus has made a bold choice using his protagonist Jody to be the primary narrative. Jody’s voice is audacious, unabashed and full of slang terms, both familiar and unfamiliar. At first, it’s distracting but soon, the reader will grow accustomed to Jody’s unique wordsmithing and the story is well-worth hanging in there. I found myself laughing out loud at Jody’s keen observations and cringing when he launches into descriptions of his ongoing battle with pink-eye. Tagging along with our protagonist is Dag (short for Dagmar) a girl with a sensitive spirit and a soft spot for a disgusting stray dog that probably nobody else in the world would care about, and Midget, Jody’s mentally handicapped foster sister who talks to bugs. This band of misfits befriends a lonely, struggling man named Robbie who opens his dilapidated home to these castoff kids. Kraus expertly does two things at once in this story: He openly and unflinchingly paints a realistic, disturbing picture of neglected kids on the street who are exposed to every foul and harmful thing while at the same time employing humor and childlike innocence to alleviate the depravity of it all. I appreciated this because this is the way the protagonist sees his life--through the lens of his own context--not the reader’s perspective or the author’s perspective which would be a pretty grim read. It's authentic that Jody gets excited and enthusiastic about "Supermilk"(a milkshake made with drugs that Robbie makes for the kids) even though it's a rough scene to read. My mom-heart was destroyed from the beginning. These poor kids left alone in the world to raise themselves befriending this guy who clearly has some mental health issues and then have to work together to stop this guy from hurting innocent children? It’s a bleak, heartbreaking story but oddly enough, I loved it. I think it’s an original, weird, little Halloween tale that captures the reader’s imagination, exploits our feelings and offers a memorable new voice to the horror genre--we won’t soon forget our time with Jody in the story BLOOD SUGAR. I hope Daniel Kraus continues to make bold character choices like this-I’m here for it

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Daviau

    First of all, can we all take a second to appreciate how utterly AMAZING this cover is?! Okay now that we’ve all feasted our eyes on the awesome cover, let’s get to the goods inside. Somehow, the story is as good as the cover is, if not BETTER. This is some dark subject matter and definitely not for the faint of heart, it had me feeling sick to my stomach at some points, in the best way possible of course! I loved the way it was written, the slang like language made me really feel like I was ins First of all, can we all take a second to appreciate how utterly AMAZING this cover is?! Okay now that we’ve all feasted our eyes on the awesome cover, let’s get to the goods inside. Somehow, the story is as good as the cover is, if not BETTER. This is some dark subject matter and definitely not for the faint of heart, it had me feeling sick to my stomach at some points, in the best way possible of course! I loved the way it was written, the slang like language made me really feel like I was inside the characters very troubled mind and it made this read all the more chilling. If you’re looking for an utterly terrifying read that happens on the best night of the year, Halloween, look no further. Blood Sugar is IT. * I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and this in no way changes or affects my review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Blood Sugar Delivers Blood Sugar is a kind of a cross between Eminem’s Eight Mile, A Clockwork Orange, and every punked-Out hood rat story you ever heard. Get used to Jody’s inner city rap ‘cause this whole deal is told in a distinct vernacular that once you get used to it feels honest and pointed. Be ready for more Tolkien references than a Led Zeppelin song as well as constant references to sharkweek. The story has little to do with Halloween except that’s the setting time-wise. It’s not a hor Blood Sugar Delivers Blood Sugar is a kind of a cross between Eminem’s Eight Mile, A Clockwork Orange, and every punked-Out hood rat story you ever heard. Get used to Jody’s inner city rap ‘cause this whole deal is told in a distinct vernacular that once you get used to it feels honest and pointed. Be ready for more Tolkien references than a Led Zeppelin song as well as constant references to sharkweek. The story has little to do with Halloween except that’s the setting time-wise. It’s not a horror story, ghost story, or goblin-fest. Rather, it’s a commentary on the sad ways people go as their dreams get dashed and they end up frittering away their days watching television, planning a shoplift, hoarding junk, or blending up supermilk drug-drinks. Maybe the world don’t owe you nothing but, if like fatboy you were going to be a football star and ended up abused behind the locker room, there maybe ain’t no way to end the pain, no rage fest that can end it, nothing you wouldn’t wish on a world that turned its back on you. Maybe some razor infested candy will show them. Jody hangs out there in fatboy’s junkie crib cause his mom has shut herself in the bedroom watching endless Oprah reruns. Foster sister midget tags along when she’s not too busy eating bugs. And, Dags somehow made her way across the tracks to Hang out too even though at home she’s got the full Ozzie and Harriet routine. A splendid, if problematic, cast of characters. But, really, the real star here is the narrative that captures the mood so well. This may not be for everyone, but Blood Sugar delivers precisely what it sets out to. And it’s a glimpse of a world that isn’t exactly unicorns and fairies.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Janie C.

    Written in the lingo of a wannabe thug who is simply a child in limbo, this story revolves around the disenfranchised, the abused and the unfortunate whose lives were tugged out from under them. Flypaper costumes, overpriced junk, rage, and the saddest stories you've ever heard meld to form street monsters with beating hearts with nowhere to move but forward. Humor is sprinkled over poisoned treats that may or may not hit their targets. Heartbreaking and tough as nails, this book delivers the go Written in the lingo of a wannabe thug who is simply a child in limbo, this story revolves around the disenfranchised, the abused and the unfortunate whose lives were tugged out from under them. Flypaper costumes, overpriced junk, rage, and the saddest stories you've ever heard meld to form street monsters with beating hearts with nowhere to move but forward. Humor is sprinkled over poisoned treats that may or may not hit their targets. Heartbreaking and tough as nails, this book delivers the goods in all their soiled wrappings.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    From the start you know this isn't going to be any ordinary book; seeped in slang, the story set among squalor, Blood Sugar is at once creative and consuming. It absorbs the reader in a heartfelt story hiding behind the curtains of malicious intent and a twisted form of vengeance. The narrative is insightful innocence spoken through a veil of ignorance that's all too real and scary as hell - more as a result of the plot's initial intent as apposed to the outcome. While misleading, the From the start you know this isn't going to be any ordinary book; seeped in slang, the story set among squalor, Blood Sugar is at once creative and consuming. It absorbs the reader in a heartfelt story hiding behind the curtains of malicious intent and a twisted form of vengeance. The narrative is insightful innocence spoken through a veil of ignorance that's all too real and scary as hell - more as a result of the plot's initial intent as apposed to the outcome. While misleading, the cover is true to the book; make no mistake Halloween is the centerpiece but you won't find witches, monsters, or ghosts here. Just four down-on-their-luck characters who bond to form an unconventional family unit. I loved every page.The unique style and over indulgent use of ebonics provided the characters with a voice that's honest and full complimentary to the story's place-setting; a perfect fit for the tone of the book. I give this a solid 5 stars. Blood Sugar will no doubt be on my 'Best of 2019' list come years end.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    Abandoned by his parents and desperate for revenge against those in his town who have made his life a living hell, twenty-something recluse Robbie has come up with a shameful scheme. On Halloween night, with the assistance of his friends Jody, Dag and Midge, Robbie will give out candy filled with pins and poison. Will he follow through with his despicable plan or will his cohorts stop him before it’s too late? Blood Sugar is unlike any book I’ve read. Author Daniel Kraus presents Jody Abandoned by his parents and desperate for revenge against those in his town who have made his life a living hell, twenty-something recluse Robbie has come up with a shameful scheme. On Halloween night, with the assistance of his friends Jody, Dag and Midge, Robbie will give out candy filled with pins and poison. Will he follow through with his despicable plan or will his cohorts stop him before it’s too late? Blood Sugar is unlike any book I’ve read. Author Daniel Kraus presents Jody, Robbie’s young friend, as the principal narrator. In doing so, Kraus worms his way inside Jody’s brain by writing in Jody’s completely unique voice. In flipping some choice swear words by using phrases like “that’s some serious sharkweek” or “mightyducker” helps to endear him to the reader. Even though I’m not a Lord of the Rings fan, I appreciated his love for the books/movies and the fact that he covers his coat in quotes from the series. Made me laugh out loud on a few occasions. While Jody is the one who narrates the majority of the book, Kraus allows us to get into the heads of the other main characters through letters they write. I thought this worked really well. We get to see a lot of character development that would otherwise go unnoticed by their brief interactions with Jody. The brightest spotlight shines on Dag who has the biggest evolution from over-achieving, stable teen to something else entirely; something dark and twisted. Blood Sugar, while ultimately a crime novel, is a very poignant and dark look at life in urban America for those who are struggling both financially and mentally. Robbie’s story is a deeply tragic one and although Jody tries to remain positive for Robbie by putting up a front throughout the novel, it’s clear that he is just a push away from shattering. And he’s not the only one. Sure, you could probably find scarier books to read this Halloween, but like many of Hardcase Crime’s offerings, Kraus’ Blood Sugar is definitely not to be missed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    I went back and forth on giving this a 4.5, but I think 4 is fair. First let me say upfront, that I was provided this book for review purposes by Kaye Publicity. With that out of the way, lets get to the review. I had a blast with this, which feels weird to say, considering the book is full of very bleak content. Kraus finds a way to infuse his characters with verve and humour, even while they inhabit a grim world, and this makes for easy reading. This could easily have been a stumbli I went back and forth on giving this a 4.5, but I think 4 is fair. First let me say upfront, that I was provided this book for review purposes by Kaye Publicity. With that out of the way, lets get to the review. I had a blast with this, which feels weird to say, considering the book is full of very bleak content. Kraus finds a way to infuse his characters with verve and humour, even while they inhabit a grim world, and this makes for easy reading. This could easily have been a stumbling block, as it's a balancing act that requires a deft hand. I'm struggling to place the book, in terms of genre definitions, because it doesn't comfortably sit anywhere. Not really. I guess for simplicity's sake, it is a crime novel, but that doesn't begin to do it justice. We have here a striking story told (mostly) from the point of view of a young male character, who really jumped off the page to me, and felt like a real person, despite his idiosyncrasies, or maybe because of them. His unique voice pulled me in very quickly, and the pacing made the book a breeze to read. Our other characters are described mostly by our protagonist, although we do get some good glimpses into their psyche's via creative means. Kraus doesn't overstay his welcome, and I suspect that had he tried to elongate the novel, it may have lost some of it's impact. I don't know how to truly describe the book without perhaps making its potency less marvelous, so my hope is that you will give it a try if the synopsis makes it sound at all appealing to you - and then be prepared to have it take you in directions you were completely unready for.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    ARC review Markedly different from every other Kraus on its surface level, though there's definitely some familiar themes he's continuing to explore. Most interesting is that despite not really being a horror novel, it's probably Kraus' most disgusting book yet. Yes, the same author who had two whole epic novels about the protagonist slowly decaying. Yes, the same author who wrote a book about grave robbing. Rotters may have been the only book to really effectively evoke smell for me, but Blood Sugar made m ARC review Markedly different from every other Kraus on its surface level, though there's definitely some familiar themes he's continuing to explore. Most interesting is that despite not really being a horror novel, it's probably Kraus' most disgusting book yet. Yes, the same author who had two whole epic novels about the protagonist slowly decaying. Yes, the same author who wrote a book about grave robbing. Rotters may have been the only book to really effectively evoke smell for me, but Blood Sugar made me lose my appetite and go wash my hands on several occasions. At least there were plenty of Lord of the Rings references, and even one Watership Down reference, to wash it down. This book might ruin candy for you. If it doesn't, it might ruin milk, or McDonald's. Just don't do what I did, and read this during your lunch breaks. Seriously. You might be thinking "whatever man, I read Zebulon during my lunch break". I did too. Trust me. Blood Sugar is a slim, fast moving novel and this coupled with the narrator's voice makes it in many ways the exact antithesis of Zebulon Finch. It's also never predictable. I was never sure where it was headed until the last few pages. The ending is terrific, the kind of gut punch that few authors can pull off well.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    I picked up this book because of the amazing cover, but it wasn't what I was expecting it to be. The cover makes it look like a retro crime story that's maybe a little sexy. This is actually a modern day, super depressing story with extremely dark and damaged characters. I spent the first 2/3 of this book not really knowing what was going on, where it was leading or whether or not I was even enjoying it. The last 1/3 is where all the meat of the story is which I did really enjoy. The main narrat I picked up this book because of the amazing cover, but it wasn't what I was expecting it to be. The cover makes it look like a retro crime story that's maybe a little sexy. This is actually a modern day, super depressing story with extremely dark and damaged characters. I spent the first 2/3 of this book not really knowing what was going on, where it was leading or whether or not I was even enjoying it. The last 1/3 is where all the meat of the story is which I did really enjoy. The main narrator of the story is one of the children who speaks in his own weird language which is a mishmash of pop culture references and street slang. The audiobook's narrator did a great job of voicing him and made the dialogue less obnoxious than it could have been. I don't know who to recommend this book to. It's a weird story that doesn't fit into any one particular genre. Read at your own risk.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Malum

    A fascinating look at the underbelly of the young and extremely poor that does some interesting things with main character and point of view but is marred by some of the worst "adult writing a kid" writing that I have ever read. On one page we read something like "I've gotta get ahold of some crack, yo!", only to read a page later something like "I'm being a poo poo diaper baby" and "I can't make pee". Kraus also tried to make up his own slang like A Clockwork Orange but it is just laughably awful: "Y A fascinating look at the underbelly of the young and extremely poor that does some interesting things with main character and point of view but is marred by some of the worst "adult writing a kid" writing that I have ever read. On one page we read something like "I've gotta get ahold of some crack, yo!", only to read a page later something like "I'm being a poo poo diaper baby" and "I can't make pee". Kraus also tried to make up his own slang like A Clockwork Orange but it is just laughably awful: "You're my Robocop and that's a Mighty Duck but this is straight up shark week, yo!". Modern ghetto kids making up a slang made up of 80s and 90s movie references and Discovery channel specials? It sounds like something a middle-aged, rich, suburban white dude would come up with (and what do you know, it is!).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eddie Generous

    Unnerving Magazine Review Listen to my conversation with the author here: https://www.unnervingmagazine.com/sin... An entertaining and original offering on an urban myth (mostly). At times endearing and at other times gut-churning. Textured and told with a somewhat experimental voice and method. A truly interesting read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rob Christopher

    Very strong stuff. Unpleasant. But also poignant .... and 100% committed. I had to admire it. He gets inside his protagonist's head so completely it made me squirm--because this is a very sad, bleak tale indeed. Not without some mightducking humor, however.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristyn

    Blood Sugar takes place all during Halloween day/evening. I loved reading this book in Jody's voice. It was a unique narrative that took a few pages to get used to, but I think it was a great way to tell the story. The story tells about each character and how they ended up hanging out together. It's funny, oddly heartwarming, and a little horrific. This is a quick read that I finished in just a few hours. It's a great book to add to an October reading list!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Oliver Clarke

    Review coming soon on Sci Fi and Scary

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    BLOOD SUGAR is not your usual Hard Case Crime book. It is, for one, an original story, newly written and released, as opposed to the rare, out-of-print and/or long-lost novels that this venerable and indispensable imprint typically publishes. For another, it is not a crime novel, as that term is normally used in the literary world. It most certainly revolves around a crime, or at least the potential for one, and therein lies part of the reason for its presence here. That said, BLOOD S BLOOD SUGAR is not your usual Hard Case Crime book. It is, for one, an original story, newly written and released, as opposed to the rare, out-of-print and/or long-lost novels that this venerable and indispensable imprint typically publishes. For another, it is not a crime novel, as that term is normally used in the literary world. It most certainly revolves around a crime, or at least the potential for one, and therein lies part of the reason for its presence here. That said, BLOOD SUGAR makes demands. It is told in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, and the stream is polluted. The particular body of water of the piece is named Jody, who hangs out with Dagmar, Midget and Robbie. It is Robbie who is considered the leader of the club, though Jody may have a thing or two to say about that. They are a group of four somewhat unpleasant but occasionally charming kids approaching adolescence who are up to no good from page one. The time is Halloween, and the consideration is candy. The plot basically centers on a plan to obtain candy --- stealing it, of course --- and then tainting it before passing it out to (hopefully) dozens of kids who will fall ill, or worse. It is a story full of suspense, given that one of the participants exhibits some hesitation when it comes time to pull the pin on this holiday hand grenade. BLOOD SUGAR is more than a story of maybe/maybe not, though. It’s a character study in which Daniel Kraus drops hints and incidents throughout the narrative that explain how these people got together and find themselves on the cusp of engaging in a heinous act with the potential for far-reaching consequences. You may not know the author’s name, but you almost certainly have at least a passing familiarity with his body of work, specifically those that he co-authored with Guillermo del Toro, which include the Netflix-adapted “Trollhunters” and the novelization of The Shape of Water. Kraus takes BLOOD SUGAR in a slightly different direction. It’s extremely gritty, and while there isn’t really any sex or violence, there is some cringe-inducing and unblinking focus on bodily fluids and functions that you won’t want to encounter while drinking or eating. There is, however, plenty of suspense of the will-they-or-won’t-they type, and the character development that Kraus whittles out of the vignettes ultimately elevates the book above the street-level situations it describes in nuanced detail before the reader is aware of it. BLOOD SUGAR is not a long book, and whatever difficulties one might have with the breathless narrative --- it takes a bit of time for the reader to catch up with what Jody already knows --- are balanced by the short chapters and frequent chapter breaks. The cover art, courtesy of Paul Mann, features a fetching broom-riding witch and has absolutely nothing to do with the story, other than that both concern Halloween. It works for me. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This book is a bit of a marvel. I don’t know how it ‘works’, but it does. The first characteristic of BLOOD SUGAR that grabs your attention is the street/hood (and partially made up) language of the main character. 85% of the book is Jody talking to you in this manner. Right away, on page 1, I found myself questioning if I really wanted to struggle through a whole book written in this way. It turned out not to be a struggle. Not at all (I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I w This book is a bit of a marvel. I don’t know how it ‘works’, but it does. The first characteristic of BLOOD SUGAR that grabs your attention is the street/hood (and partially made up) language of the main character. 85% of the book is Jody talking to you in this manner. Right away, on page 1, I found myself questioning if I really wanted to struggle through a whole book written in this way. It turned out not to be a struggle. Not at all (I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg). Once you acclimate to the vocabulary, the prose is so sharp. I felt as if I were a fly on the wall in a bar as Tarantino & Chuck Palahniuk exchanged barbs and banter over drinks. Not to say that Kraus writes like them, but only that my reactions & emotions to his words are most like how I feel when taking in those others’ writings. There have been various books in my past that, while reading, I have felt grimy and depressed, regardless of the settings that those characters were liveing through (usually that’s what the author intends). In BLOOD SUGAR, the setting is absolutely grimy and depressed, but somehow my mood never was. You’re in it, but manage to float just above it as the author takes you through his creation. The fact that the book takes place at Halloween made this a perfect read for this weekend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This is not a familiar Daniel Kraus, not until you peel back that metaphorical candy wrapper to see the protagonist's slow fall into the madness and absurdity of their situation. At that point, it's Kraus all over: exploring how deep one will sink into a hole, how many choices will be made, how many attempts for justice or equity will be conceived and carried out. This book may seem light, but it's stuck with me long after reading in the way only Kraus does. The back copy compares thi This is not a familiar Daniel Kraus, not until you peel back that metaphorical candy wrapper to see the protagonist's slow fall into the madness and absurdity of their situation. At that point, it's Kraus all over: exploring how deep one will sink into a hole, how many choices will be made, how many attempts for justice or equity will be conceived and carried out. This book may seem light, but it's stuck with me long after reading in the way only Kraus does. The back copy compares this to A Clockwork Orange, and it's been too long since I've read that to agree (though the narrator's voice is Alex & Droog-esque) - but if rereading ACO will be a similar experience to this, I am down. I hope this is the first of many opportunities with Hard Case (or other, non YA publishers) for my favorite author.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sheela Kean

    Blood Sugar has tempted me in with it's cover but completely hooked me with it's weirdly unique storytelling. The narrator is young, underprivileged and tells the entire story in street talk/ghetto slang which takes a few pages to get used to, after that his voice becomes familiar and it's much easier to hear it in your head as you read. This story is dark, bringing naive humor to terrible situations with characters who seem to normalize situations the reader may find disturbing or disgusting. I Blood Sugar has tempted me in with it's cover but completely hooked me with it's weirdly unique storytelling. The narrator is young, underprivileged and tells the entire story in street talk/ghetto slang which takes a few pages to get used to, after that his voice becomes familiar and it's much easier to hear it in your head as you read. This story is dark, bringing naive humor to terrible situations with characters who seem to normalize situations the reader may find disturbing or disgusting. It's so entertaining to read though, feeding you little tidbits about these characters and making you absolutely need to know what happens next. This twisted tale left me thinking about it even days later.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ashley (bookishmommy)

    This book was everything to me. I havent laughed so hard in a LONG time and I was flagging almost every page. I even went so far as to do a video where I read a paragraph because I needed the world to experience this book. Not only is this book hilarious, it has heart.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Keely

    I'm not really sure what to say about this one yet...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Roger Bailey

    It is difficult to nail down this one. With the cover and being part of the Hard Crime series you're not expecting much, but Kraus has a pedigree coming into this so maybe it'll be a fun read. The current trend in the books I keep getting recommended is how dark can we go? The basic premise here is a group of lost kids with absence of parents planning to poison Halloween candy. So what goes wrong. First off, the way the book is written is tedious to get through. It reads like a grown man trying It is difficult to nail down this one. With the cover and being part of the Hard Crime series you're not expecting much, but Kraus has a pedigree coming into this so maybe it'll be a fun read. The current trend in the books I keep getting recommended is how dark can we go? The basic premise here is a group of lost kids with absence of parents planning to poison Halloween candy. So what goes wrong. First off, the way the book is written is tedious to get through. It reads like a grown man trying to write like teenagers via early 90s hip hop culture. For a big chunk of readers this is going to be a deal breaker. I've read quite a few of these stream of concious narratives and I felt it difficult to get through. Second there isn't a whole lot of redemption here, it's a straight up bummer. You can feel bad for these kids only to a certain point. I avoid reviews until after I've posted mine, but I think there may be people who give Kraus too much credit here. Yes, I got these people were chewed up by the system but Kraus doesn't do enough to make us hope these characters get redeemed. There are interesting narratives here, but even at just over 200 pages I can't think of anyone I would reccomend this book to. I recently read "Opiod, Indiana" by Brian Allen Carr which is in a similar vein but I felt much better in both style and narrative.

  23. 4 out of 5

    C.J. Bunce

    Originally published October 17, 2019, at BORG.com. Blood Sugar--Daniel Kraus offers up a strange, dark tale set at Halloween Review by C.J. Bunce As you look at that great Paul Mann cover art for Blood Sugar, would you ever guess the following describes what is inside? A modern-day look at the struggles of a teenager in a broken home and broken society in the vein of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders (or any of her early books, for that matter). It has the gritty stre Originally published October 17, 2019, at BORG.com. Blood Sugar--Daniel Kraus offers up a strange, dark tale set at Halloween Review by C.J. Bunce As you look at that great Paul Mann cover art for Blood Sugar, would you ever guess the following describes what is inside? A modern-day look at the struggles of a teenager in a broken home and broken society in the vein of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders (or any of her early books, for that matter). It has the gritty street life from Attack the Block, Do the Right Thing, or Car Wash, the "being different" of Lucas (the film with Corey Haim) and the coming of age confusion and angst of Stephen King's Stand By Me aka The Body and issues kids worry about like in Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. What? In one way Blood Sugar is the worst written novel you'll ever read. And in another way, it's the kind of story that should already be optioned to become an independent film. That "bad writing" is tricky, because the story is told in an experimental manner through the voice of a young teenager named Jody, a boy whose life is a mess and whose street sense surpasses any "book learning" he passed up in his life so far. Author Daniel Kraus, through the voice of Jody, speaks in rambling sentences, stream of conscience thoughts, and with little punctuation and grammar (no apostrophes, etc.). It's distracting at first to the point a reader may just walk away, but it doesn't take too long to realize Kraus's characters are real if not disturbingly so. Yes, they are a mess, but this book might be worthwhile in the hands of the right kid. Kraus is a screenplay writer, known for his script to The Shape of Water and his young adult works. It no doubt takes some commitment to write an entire story in this strange manner. His novel reads like a screenplay, and it's far more a young adult novel than anything you've read before in the Hard Case Crime series. It's not a fun read--it's dark, and desperate, and dire--the kids have no good path ahead, and their plight is like that of the doomed kids in Bless the Beasts and Children. But it's one heckuva thought-provoking drama. Jody is a funny, dumb, impressionable kid. He hasn't read much but he knows The Lord of the Rings movies backward and forward. He rarely swears, instead using goofy swapped words for profanity, which drops the serious and sometimes violent nature of the content into something that should pass for a PG-13 rating, something like I would have read in eighth grade. This is a dark story of drugs and living in a rat-infested, inner-city project, of mental health issues, bad parenting, of youth gone amok, all in that same theme--but in an updated 21st century way--as Rebel Without a Cause, or any of the books referenced above. And everything in Jody's life hits a turning point on Halloween. This is not your typical crime novel. Jody has a mother who is infirm and mostly bedridden. He also has a foster sister his mother brings in solely for the government support payments. His sister is mute, and has some undiagnosed mental condition where she thinks she is speaking to insects. Jody has a girlfriend name Dag (who lives in the "good" housing development but she's pre-occupied with a sister who has been sent away for her own issues). And Jody has a pushing 30-years-old adult friend named Robbie, who years ago committed an act of violence resulting from sexual abuse against him by a coach in high school. Concussions from high school football have had their toll on Robbie and his parents left him behind to fend for himself. At the end of his rope, Robbie plans to poison the neighborhood kids with his street drugs and plans other misdeeds for when they trick-or-treat at his house for Halloween, to get back at their parents, because he's angry at all adults, and the community that made him the way he is. In addition to the crimes done to Robbie, the focal crime of the story is that stuff of Halloween lore, and Jody and Dag don't seem to believe Robbie is really going to go through with his threat. But Halloween poisonings are ultimately just the background for a life of inner-city death, disease, infestation, and personal horrors over any kind of fun kids are supposed to have at Halloween. The kids, even Jody's well-to-do so-called girlfriend, each snap for their own reasons and are completely empty and lacking in thought or consequences by the novel's climax. You can just hear Jim Morrison singing, "This is the End," as the last chapter looms ahead. Will they follow through with their plan? The story unfortunately wraps a bit too abruptly. Reactions to Blood Sugar will be a bit like everyone not knowing whether or not to recommend the new Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie, saying "it's good, but sooo dark." That description definitely applies here. But if Blood Sugar ever gets adapted to film it's going to be likely the actor that gets cast as Robbie will have a role of a lifetime. Note--despite its marketing this novel really reads nothing like A Clockwork Orange. The story has little commonality other than the speaking in slang concept, and the violence is not flagrantly paraded for humor sake or for shock value alone here. More of a story that happens to take place at Halloween than a Halloween story you're likely to recommend reading year after year, but a solid piece of writing, Daniel Kraus′s new novel Blood Sugar is just out, in paperback from Hard Case Crime, available in time for Halloween.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zombieslayer/Alienhunter {and so on}

    Zombieslayer/Alienhunter's 31 Days Of Hallo-reads: 2019 Fuck. Damn it. Another Halloween. People on Military Yellow Street know what this means. Houses on fire. They blowin' up cars. Creatures in the streets... And razor blades in candy bars... If you recognized that classic Halloween bop ^ youuu might be too old to be trick 'r treating on this day. Fat boy says hes gonna put crack in Fun Size Snickers. On Yellow Street, one of the last neighborhoods set to be bulldozed and paved over into the encroaching housing development Pinebluff Glenn Estates, lives a sad, sad man named Rday.Fat2019 Zombieslayer/Alienhunter's 31 Days Of Hallo-reads: 2019 Fuck. Damn it. Another Halloween. People on Military Yellow Street know what this means. Houses on fire. They blowin' up cars. Creatures in the streets... And razor blades in candy bars... If you recognized that classic Halloween bop ^ youuu might be too old to be trick 'r treating on this day. Fat boy says hes gonna put crack in Fun Size Snickers. On Yellow Street, one of the last neighborhoods set to be bulldozed and paved over into the encroaching housing development Pinebluff Glenn Estates, lives a sad, sad man named Robbie. The jobless, unhealthy, unstable outcast's only friends are three alienated children: Jody, who's a plucky kid regardless of his TV-zombie mother, his mute foster sister Midget who only talks to flies and maggots, and Dag, a girl tossed out of 'the Glenn' and her socialite circles after being plunked down in Jody's public school. Robbie keeps them hanging around by providing them with a place to go; that place to go just happens to be a hoarded family home littered with diseases, rats, drugs and old, old memories. The three a us are fam. You feel me? You ever had fam? Well then you know just how it goes. Jody, Dag and Midget are outcasts in their own rights and Robbie, who himself has the capacity of children their age due to 'the VIOLENCE', figures he can enlist them to do anything he wants, like stealing for him, scouting dealers for him and, when he concocts a scheme to get revenge on the city that wronged him via chemicals, drugs and razor blades on Halloween night, doing his dirty work. These kids owe him. Right? Stuff like that might break your heart if you werent running around like youre racing the devil. Told in alternating voices between Jody, Dag's letters to her sister and Robbie's letters to all who have wronged him, Blood Sugar tells a fucked up story in a fucked up way. And- Can I be honest with you? it's kinda bloody fucking brilliant. I've loved Daniel Kraus for years. He's become a bit more commercially successful in recent times after coauthoring a childrens' book that became a netflix cartoon, Trollhunters and of course being the coauthor of The Shape of Water (both of which I love). But this is Kraus's home turf; dirty, nasty, horrific stuff that doesn't involve trolls or sea monsters. This kind of horror, brought to life stunningly in Rotters, is what we all fear: hopelessness, powerlessness, and the kind of hurt you can't come back from (if you don't believe you can). Pubbed just earlier this month by HRC, is this really crime? Surely, Robbie's intentions are crimes. But is this really a crime against humanity, or the crime of humanity? Well. This is just Blood Sugar. This is really both. Blood Sugar is upsetting. It features abuse of children by way of drugs. It features the school-shooterish personalities screamed about by Woke Twitter. It features the dark, deformed parts of humanity most people will never have to witness firsthand. I can recommend it because it's written with the same brand of passion I have loved Kraus for since my first runaround with him. But it's harsh, and it's bleak. It's Halloween on Yellow Street. Theres a Christmas tree ornament on the cement thats still got a gummy price tag on it and i crunch it with my snowboot. Christmas? Nope. Christmas is never coming. Its gonna be Halloween forever.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Craig Childs

    "Christmas is never coming. Its gonna be Halloween forever." Life has not always been kind to the people in the housing projects on Yellow Street, especially the children. With the ever-present threat of bulldozers in the background hell-bent on gentrifying their neighborhood, it will only get worse. This year, Jodie and his friends have a plan to "educate this town on how you don't mess up kids and expect they won't mess you up back." They just need a little money (and some luck!) to "Christmas is never coming. Its gonna be Halloween forever." Life has not always been kind to the people in the housing projects on Yellow Street, especially the children. With the ever-present threat of bulldozers in the background hell-bent on gentrifying their neighborhood, it will only get worse. This year, Jodie and his friends have a plan to "educate this town on how you don't mess up kids and expect they won't mess you up back." They just need a little money (and some luck!) to buy drugs, poisons, razor blades, and candy. A dark urban legend will be coming to life for this year's unlucky trick-or-treaters. Blood Sugar is not at all what I expected. Based on the flirty witch cover art, I assumed this would be a tongue-in-cheek Halloween-themed caper similar in tone to other Hard Case Crime original novels like The Corpse Wore Pasties and Bust. Instead, this is a very dark book, but not in the ways one might expect. It is a unique experimental work that blurs the boundary between genre fiction and a straight-up literary novel. Jody is a white middle schooler living in a mixed-race housing project. He narrates this story in an affected made-up street slang that is combination urban jargon, terms from Lord of the Rings movies, and sometimes juvenile substitutions for common profanity (the F-word becomes "mightyducker", and the S-word becomes "sharkweek"). For example, here are the opening lines of the book: "Fat boy says hes gonna put crack inside Fun Size Snickers. I guess he went ahead and lost his dang mind. News flash, Robbie, crack is rocks, and you cant squoosh rocks inside Fun Size Snickers without ruining the Fun Size shape. That’s some idiotical sharkweek right there so I go " This use of invented language has drawn some comparisons to Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. Kraus' vocabulary is not nearly as extensive as the one Burgess created, but it serves the same purpose of allowing the narrator to relate horrific events in a seemingly detached, humorous, caustic manner. Jody's language is also an important plot point that is remarked on several times within the text. One middle age man tells Jody, "You talk like some kind of cartoon. I literally cannot understand your words. Youve gone and invented a language nobody can speak and then you wonder why nobody speaks to you with respect." What emerges from this premise is a complicated story about child abuse, poverty, rage, and narcotics addiction (even the youngest children do lots and lots of drugs in this book). Robbie was an ex-football star who was molested by his coach, allowed to endure repeated concussions with no medical treatment, and later abandoned by his parents. Jody's mother is an invalid who fosters damaged children just to get the monthly stipend. His foster sister Midget refuses to speak, except to animals. Dags is a wealthy girl who chafes under the pressures her parents put on her to fulfill dreams they originally had for her institutionalized older sister. They all live in squalor (only Dags by choice) and their pasts are full of stories of neglect and pain at the hands of adult authority figures. One of the themes is that of finding family in unlikely places. Like Jody, part of me kept expecting (or maybe just hoping?) for an uplifting ending, but then Jody reminds us "Halloweens the one holiday bigger than family. Its about the whole community. You go out, you knock on doors you dont knock on normally, and you trust your neighbors with your tiny defenseless children. I can see how that might be inspirational. Might be. Unless you live in this hood that’s being ate alive by dozers and no trust hasnt been ever earned by nobody." Yellow Street is the sort of nightmare neighborhood that might just deserve what it gets…

  26. 4 out of 5

    Frank Nemecek

    I got an advance review copy of this book a few weeks ago so I could reveiw it over on my blog. For those don't follow the Warrendale Detroit Blog, here are my thoughts on this novel. This novel, in my opinion, is the perfect Halloween crime story. It's smart, sexy, and a heck of a lot of fun to read. Blood Sugar starts in a ruined house where an angry outcast hatches a scheme to extract vengeance upon his community for a lengthy list of wrongs committed against him. With t I got an advance review copy of this book a few weeks ago so I could reveiw it over on my blog. For those don't follow the Warrendale Detroit Blog, here are my thoughts on this novel. This novel, in my opinion, is the perfect Halloween crime story. It's smart, sexy, and a heck of a lot of fun to read. Blood Sugar starts in a ruined house where an angry outcast hatches a scheme to extract vengeance upon his community for a lengthy list of wrongs committed against him. With the help of three equally alienated children, our villain intends to poison, maim, or kill every child in his neighborhood on Halloween night. I like the fact that Daniel Kraus used one of the children to act as his narrator in this novel. Imagining that much pure evil from the perspective of one of the supporting characters enabled me to imagine both the horrifying madness of our villain and the complexities that enabled him to recruit his young co-conspirators. Prior to writing this piece, Kraus worked with Guillermo del Toro to co-authorThe Shape of Water in 2018. While Blood Sugar deals with a very different subject matter than his previous project, there can no denying that the ink flowing through Kraus's veins is just as powerful today as it ever was. Megan Abbott, who wrote Give Me Your Hand and The End of Everything among other great novels described Blood Sugar as, "a twisted little miracle with a sneaking, beating heart." On a related note, I know now why Abbott is acclaimed by so many critics. She packed more of a punch into her nine word description than many critics could produce in a dozen reviews. Anyway, back to Blood Sugar. I recommend this book for anyone who loves a powerful thriller or a crime drama. The fact that this novel comes out so close to Halloween - a holiday that figures prominent in this story - makes everything that much better, in my opinon.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    In Blood Sugar, Kraus takes an urban legend, treats it as though it were borne of a men's adventure magazine, and gives it the voice of an impoverished and uneducated child. He treats the subject with a certain amount of respect, adding sufficient nuance and empathy to the story through his adolescent narrator to keep the story immersive. And immersion is definitely the name of the game here. The narrator's voice is distinct (and apparently divisive to those unable or unwilling to grapple w In Blood Sugar, Kraus takes an urban legend, treats it as though it were borne of a men's adventure magazine, and gives it the voice of an impoverished and uneducated child. He treats the subject with a certain amount of respect, adding sufficient nuance and empathy to the story through his adolescent narrator to keep the story immersive. And immersion is definitely the name of the game here. The narrator's voice is distinct (and apparently divisive to those unable or unwilling to grapple with its grammatical inaccuracy), but what surprises me most is its consistency. Jody, the narrator, seems as understandable as any children in his situation, and although his pop culture references and unique diction may turn some readers away, I find Kraus's consistency with the character's voice adds a kind of verisimilitude that kept me turning page after page. The story, too, is surprisingly nuanced, drawing from multiple sources to craft what feels like an uncontrollable spiral for each of the characters. The theme of the story is definitively the ways in which our society helps create these disenfranchised sociopaths, and while it's easy to see their rage as misguided, it's also easy to see how easily we can be misled through the continual cynicism we are fed through an economic system that casts us off when we lose our utility to it. Kraus certainly has a finger on the pulse of American life in 2019, and although this may not be an actual story of literal events, his allegorical purpose is powerful. I really loved every line of this "diseased" narrative, and although it is not perfect, it's far more subversive and beautifully decrepit than the purposefully cheesy cover might suggest. It's a perfect example of why Hard Case Crime is one of the best publishers today: it offers a story so entertaining that readers can almost forget it's actually saying something worth reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Thanks to the publisher for the free copy in exchange for my honest review 3.5/5 stars - rounded to 4 stars for rating With this being a Hard Case Crime book and one that’s under 250 pages, I always try to keep the reviews short and sweet. BLOOD SUGAR by Daniel Kraus isn’t the horror story you might be hoping for, but it is a chilling story that takes place on Halloween night. We’ve all heard the warnings of Halloween – always check your candy. Well, that takes o Thanks to the publisher for the free copy in exchange for my honest review 3.5/5 stars - rounded to 4 stars for rating With this being a Hard Case Crime book and one that’s under 250 pages, I always try to keep the reviews short and sweet. BLOOD SUGAR by Daniel Kraus isn’t the horror story you might be hoping for, but it is a chilling story that takes place on Halloween night. We’ve all heard the warnings of Halloween – always check your candy. Well, that takes on a terrifying and literally meaning when it comes to Robbie’s plan. Alienated, angry, and sick of the suffering he has endured, Robbie concocts a plan to get revenge on those that have so wronged him in his life. We get to meet a group of eclectic and unique characters in this book, and all told through the perspective of Jody. The only way to describe Jody is unique. She speaks in her own odd language that is comprised of slang and plenty of pop culture references to go around. It does take a little bit to get used to this, but once you do then the pacing really evens out. Dark and twisted in a very real way, the author does an incredible job sucking you in despite the discomfort he makes you feel. I love when a book can do that to you. I will say that this one won’t be for everyone. I know the narration won’t work for all readers and I can see how throughout the book it can be hard to follow and how it can make the pacing feel choppy at parts. Very bleak story but incredibly well-written.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    I almost didn't finish the book, and that's because the first half of the book was something I found barely readable. Because it was Daniel Kraus, I kept reading, because I thought that something better was on the way. It was, but not enough to fully make up for the first half of the book. The book's structure was at fault, first because of the ghastly dialect that the main character used, a sort of pseudo-urban illiteracy spiced up with weird punctuation and strange substitutes for profani I almost didn't finish the book, and that's because the first half of the book was something I found barely readable. Because it was Daniel Kraus, I kept reading, because I thought that something better was on the way. It was, but not enough to fully make up for the first half of the book. The book's structure was at fault, first because of the ghastly dialect that the main character used, a sort of pseudo-urban illiteracy spiced up with weird punctuation and strange substitutes for profanity. Second, because none of the characters make sense for the first half of the book. We don't initially learn the source of Robbie's rage, or why Dagmar would even possibly go along with it. The main character, in whose voice the story is told, seems totally uncaring about the awful thing he's about to do, and his foster sister is just too far out to care, apparently. That said, the second half of the book finally kicks in, and after that I found myself caring somewhat about Robbie and the little foster girl Midget, but not so much for Dag or the main character. Robbie seems to have a solid reason for wanting to act out, but the other two, eh, not so much, not for actions that would hurt or perhaps even kill an unknown number of small children. So, I can give the book three stars for craftsmanship, but it makes me less likely to read his next book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    M

    While reading this title, I couldn't put it down and needed to finish it. After I was finished, I had to take a few days to process what I had just read. This book will sit heavy with you and leave you wondering about your sense of humor and the need to watch bad things happen. In this Halloween set crime thriller, the kids are decidedly, not alright. Told from Jody's point of view - one of the children involved in Robbie's (an adult friend) dastardly plan - you see the effects of pov While reading this title, I couldn't put it down and needed to finish it. After I was finished, I had to take a few days to process what I had just read. This book will sit heavy with you and leave you wondering about your sense of humor and the need to watch bad things happen. In this Halloween set crime thriller, the kids are decidedly, not alright. Told from Jody's point of view - one of the children involved in Robbie's (an adult friend) dastardly plan - you see the effects of poverty, neglect, and even over-involvement on kids who are just trying to make if from day to day. There are a few interludes, through letters, where you get to see the point of view of Robbie and Dagmar (Jody's love interest and best friend). Jody's obsession with Lord of the Rings and his creative ways of not saying curse words will have you laughing, until you cry. This story will leave you wondering if anyone is truly innocent, and if so what does that really mean.

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