Of Foster Homes and Flies is the first title that I have read from Chad Lutzke and it will certainly become the first of many. I have been collecting Mr. Lutzke’s titles here and there after seeing so many positive reviews of his work from BookTubers and on Twitter. I bought this title as an ebook, but finally took the leap into Lutzke Land this past week when I won a giveaway for the audio version.
This novella is a Southern Gothic coming-of-age tale set in the sweltering heat of an early New Orleans summer. Denny is a 12-year-old boy preparing for his end of the school year spelling bee. He lives alone with his abusive, alcoholic mother and wakes one morning to discover that she’s died during the night. Denny decides not to report her death until after the spelling bee and this is the story of the days leading up to it.
I know this sounds dark, and it is – but it is also filled with so much hope. Denny, for all his understanding of his mother, her abuse, and her addiction, still has an endearing naivety that he holds on to. Of Foster Homes and Flies is extremely well-written and the story and characters are so very well-developed for a novella. I found Lutzke’s writing akin to Daniel Woodrell’s, but far more optimistic.
I highly recommend this title for any fan of coming-of-age horror, Southern Gothics, or horror with heart.
“Then I soared toward the sun, breaking through the exosphere into outer space, until – ninety-three million miles from home- I arrived at my destination. I threw my arms open and let it burn me. Ten thousand Fahrenheit. The world’s light. The world’s love. But still it couldn’t make up for what I had lost.”
This book… This wonderful, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking book. It has been years since a novel has had this kind of impact on my life. It will make you rethink what you thought you knew about life and death and the things, the feelings, that truly matter.
I’m not going to use this space to recap the premise, I couldn’t do it justice. Even if you’ve read the synopsis on the back of the book, it would not prepare you for the story of Westlake Soul – and it is a beautiful story. Written with words, but told in colors, emotions, touch, and landscapes.
Rio Youers is well-known in the horror community, but this little book defies genre. Relatively short, at 243 pages, it hits hard and leaves you broken. That being said, it also leaves you with the hope you need to “rebuild” yourself into someone stronger, someone who appreciates more, someone who lives life, someone who changes lives.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime book that you need to read. I can’t recommend it enough, and I will never stop recommending it.