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Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus #BookReview

Liv Fleming’s father went missing more than two years ago, not long after he claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Liv has long accepted that he’s dead, though that doesn’t mean she has given up their traditions. Every Sunday, she and her lifelong friend Doug Monk trudge through the woods to check the traps Lee left behind, traps he set to catch the aliens he so desperately believed were after him.

But Liv is done with childhood fantasies. Done pretending she believes her father’s absurd theories. Done going through the motions for Doug’s sake. However, on the very day she chooses to destroy the traps, she discovers in one of them a creature so inhuman it can only be one thing. In that moment, she’s faced with a painful realization: her dad was telling the truth. And no one believed him.

Now, she and Doug have a choice to make. They can turn the alien over to the authorities…or they can take matters into their own hands.

A small pond with the refection of a skull in it is surrounded by skinny trees. A single female in shadow is centered with a human shape behind her. The colors are in a green scale.
forest with reflection in lake and man silhouette; Shutterstock ID 418079275; Title: –

Title: Bent Heavens  | Author: Daniel Kraus | Publisher: Henry Holt & Company  | Pub. Date: 25 February 2020 | Pages: 304 | ISBN: 9781250151674 | Genre: Horror/Sci-Fi Language: English |  Source: Received a copy from author for review consideration Starred Review

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Bent Heavens Review

Family. Sacrifice. Suffering. Conspiracy. All of these things craft the main threads throughout Bent Heavens. This book was my first experience reading Kraus’ work. Prior to this I had only watched The Shape of Water, a collaboration with Guillermo del Toro that was also released as a novel. I even have two more Kraus books waiting in the wings, and after reading this one, I will be digging in sooner rather than later.

As the synopsis notes, we follow the MC, Liv, as she traverses a personal and public hellscape that would challenge even the toughest adult. I just love her. She is flawed and a mess and beautiful all at once. I work with teenagers on a daily basis and Kraus just really nails the high school environment and pressures. All from the perspective of a female. It’s impressive.

I’m a fairly fast reader. Some of that is due to just who I am and some is due to necessity. I, like so many of us, have a busy, crazy life full of lots of things that demand my attention. All of which takes away time from reading a book. This book is one that even when I was away from it (against my will), I thought of it. I needed to know what happened. Two days ago, I finished this while sitting in the grocery store parking lot. I needed to read the last 50 pages and everything else could wait. Even food.

I see many readers who don’t normally read or enjoy YA (hey – I don’t read much YA at all) mentioning they’d like to expand out a bit. This book may have a teenage protagonist and some teenage issues, but this is very much an adult fiction book. Emotional and physical trauma exist within these pages in a tug-of-war that left me reeling. It’s because I was so invested in the characters that I found myself flipping these pages, desperate to know what would happen. This book made me laugh, cringe, and cry: that’s a winner for me.

TLDR? A relatively small cast of characters, in a small, nowhere Iowan city, experience otherworldly and very real traumatic experiences throughout the book. A blistering pace combined with conspiracy, revenge, love, and heartbreak combine to create a binge-worthy read for readers of YA and adult horror/sci-fi fiction. Add this one to your TBR – I need to discuss!

  You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads; however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks

Published inHorror Book ReviewsStarred Reviews


  1. Oh my gosh! So glad you liked it. I’m really looking forward to getting and reading it too. I watched Shape of Water and read the book and loved both, so I’m eager to sample Kraus’s work when he’s not collaborating with someone else.

  2. Oh, yes, definitely read his other books. They are also dark and desperate and thought-provoking. Bent Heavens is the best, I think, but Rotters and Scowler are right up there as well. Kraus’ books are unique in the YA realm–I read a lot of YA and no one is quite like him.

    • Tracy

      YA is one I don’t often read and I am really grateful you commented, it helps me branch out into an area I don’t know too much about. I definitely plan on picking up the two you mentioned.

  3. I’m reading this soon, Tracy! I can’t wait😁

    • Tracy

      I had SO much fun with it. I love a book that can keep me guessing and shock me

      • Tracy

        Great! I really hope you like it.

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