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Blood, Horror, and Powerful Poetics: NPR



I love books that make me feel uncomfortable. I love books that crawl into the invisible space beneath my ribs and stand there like a trembling parasite. Rachel Eva Moulton Butterfly Rachel Eva Moulton Butterfly did both. I don't know what her writing process looked like, but if it looks like the way I read it, I can imagine her bending over a desk in a dimly lit room, squealing fiercely as she breathes short, stormy breaths of a frightened animal.

Emma hitchhiking on her way to the Badlands. She has a fresh abdominal scar and her system is full of pain medication. She's in a van with a man named Lowell, and things seem to be going well, but then she wakes up to another reality. Lowell is not the pretty man he looks, and soon Emma runs away after stealing a gun and a van and leaving Lowell on the sidewalk, bleeding from a bullet wound.

A gas van is leaking into an abandoned city somewhere in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It's cold outside and Emma seeks refuge in a ruined dining room before she returns. When she wakes up, she meets Earl, a young boy wearing a gun mask who stole her pistols and pills – and who knows her name. Before Emma can handle the wild stories that Earl tells her, she follows him to the house , where he asks her for help in burying the body of his father, whom he killed using her pills. But the man is not dead. And Earl is not a boy. These two facts are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The following is a brutal, incredibly bizarre exploration of madness, guilt, love and darkness within all of us.