Genre: Horror / Coming of Age
Publisher: Scary Carpet
Publication Date: 22 July 2016
REVIEWED BY NEV
A copy of Of Foster Homes and Flies was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Chad Lutzke, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Scary Carpet.
This is a book that, to be honest wouldn’t have been on my radar if it hadn’t been sent to me by Mr Lutzke for review. A mutual friend of ours, and fantastic author in his own rite, James Newman, mentioned to Chad that he should send me a copy. After a recommendation like that, it was hard for me not to give it a whirl.
I knew nothing of Mr Lutzke before this book and had no idea what he even wrote. Sometimes those are the best positions to be in when picking up someone new.
This is what I thought.
Denny Newman lives alone with his mom. She loves her television and the bottle more than she loves him. He gets by though. He knows how to look after himself.
One morning he finds his mom dead, on her favourite seat, in front of her favourite television, with an empty bottle of her favourite kind by her side.
Denny is now in a panic. He has the spelling bee in a few days’ time. He knows if he reports her death he will end up in a home and miss the bee. What should he do? Only he can decide.
So first of all, coming as a recommendation from Mr Newman, I was expecting an out and out horror. This is certainly not an out and out horror. This is a coming of age story that…….well let me go back to my normal format…
Characters are few in this one. Denny is the obvious main man. He is a twelve-year-old kid with the maturity and common sense of someone twice his age. He has had to be, giving the fact he has raised himself for years. Mr Artwell is his next door neighbour. A man that keeps himself to himself as long as he has his beer and cigars. A quite man, but a wise one all the same. Carter is Denny’s best friend. A pathological liar but a good friend to Denny all the same. He would do more if he knew more. Sam is a girl that comes into Denny’s life, and leaves in a flash. Her presence though will leave its mark on Denny in ways that most people can’t.
So what’s it all about?
The plot is outlined in the synopsis. It can’t be any plainer. Denny’s mom dies but he doesn’t want to tell anyone in case it messes up his chances in the spelling bee. You would think this is possibly one of the most uncaring, callous things you would ever have heard in your life? Well yes, you are probably right but then no, you are quite wrong as well. I don’t want to tell you why because that will obviously give some things away. You just need to read it to make your own mind up.
What you will read though is not just a simple coming of age story. This is a coming of age story that will have a very profound effect on you. It did with me. Usually when I read a book I write the review straight away so that everything about the story is very fresh in my mind and not corrupted by starting another book. I am writing this review about twenty-four hours after finishing the book. The only reason for this is that I needed to let the story settle in my mind. I needed to absorb its true emotion, its true intent.
Emotion is one word that you will feel the whole way through this story. You will feel immense sadness at what Denny has had to go through. At some points you will feel immense happiness for him. At some points you will feel immense anger with him. Sometimes you will laugh with him and sometimes you will cry with him. And yes, I am man enough to admit I shed a tear at this one.
You read this story in the first person the whole way through. This can be hit and miss sometimes because you can get a one-sided opinion of the story. Not in this one. Things that happen are described in such perfect detail that you cannot be in any doubt as to the intent of the sentiment. Some are wonderful and you almost cheer for Denny. Some are tragic and you just want to reach inside the pages and give him the biggest hug he has ever had.
Chad Lutzke is what I would call a very powerful writer. The construction of his story is very powerful. The sentiment and level of emotion is very powerful. His style of writing will totally suck you into the head and mind of Denny. You will live as Denny as you read this story. That is a skill that I am sure every author wants to have and something they want to achieve with every book they write. Not many of them can do it as powerfully as Mr Lutzke.
I cannot wait to read more from this man. A change in genre, but a very welcome one. When the writing is this good and has such an effect on me, I just cannot resist. I would read his shopping list and probably cry.
Bravo sir, bravo.
To summarise: a coming of age tale that will have you going through every emotion imaginable while you read it. Superb stuff.
★★★★★ super stuff.
Horror / coming of age rating:
★★★★★ top marks for both.
If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Of Foster Homes and Flies or any other books from Chad. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.
A neglected 12-year-old boy does nothing to report the death of his mother in order to compete in a spelling bee. A tragic coming-of-age tale of horror and drama in the setting of a hot New Orleans summer.
"Original, touching coming of age." Jack Ketchum, author of THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
"Original, touching coming of age." Jack Ketchum, author of THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
"With "Of Foster Homes and Flies" Lutzke is firing on all cylinders. It's a lean mean emotional machine. Coming-of-age presented in a fresh direction. Bearing tremendous emotional weight and heart. It made me cry. "
-John Boden, author of JEDI SUMMER and DOMINOES
“Disturbing, often gruesome, yet poignant at the same time, Chad Lutzke’s OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES is one of the best dark coming-of-age tales I’ve read in years. You’ll laugh (sometimes when you know you shouldn’t), you’ll cry, you’ll find yourself wondering how soon you can read more of this guy’s work. Highly recommended!”
- James Newman, author of MIDNIGHT RAIN, UGLY AS SIN, and ODD MAN OUT
"OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES by Chad Lutzke is a lovely addition to the coming of age subgenre. He creates in the character of Denny an authentic young man with passions and foibles, someone easy to relate to and root for. The novella hits all the right notes you expect out of a coming of age tale, while also providing a plot that has originality and surprises."
~Mark Allan Gunnells, author of FLOWERS IN A DUMPSTER and THE SUMMER OF WINTERS
Chad lives in Battle Creek, MI. with his wife and children where he works as a medical language specialist. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene including articles, reviews, and artwork. Chad loves music, rain, sarcasm, dry humor, and cheese. He has a strong disdain for dishonesty and hard-boiled eggs. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue and Scream magazine. He is a regular contributor to Horror Novel Reviews, Halloween Forevermore and Heavy Planet. His fictional work can be found in several magazines and anthologies including his own 18-story anthology, NIGHT AS A CATALYST. He has written a collaborative effort with horror author Terry M. West, THE HIM DEEP DOWN. In the summer of 2016 Lutzke released his dark coming-of-age novella OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES. Later in 2016, several more releases will be added to Lutzke's body of work, including his PALE WHITE coming-of-age vampire series, CAR NEX: FROM HELL THEY CAME, 47-16, A David Bowie Literary Tribute and AMERICAN DEMON HUNTERS: BATTLE CREEK with J. Thorn.
And for more about Chad, visit his site or find him on social media: