Cover image for Bent heavens
Bent heavens
1st ed.
Physical Description:
291 pages ; 22 cm.
Geographic Term:
Iowa. Two years ago Liv Fleming's father claimed he had been abducted by aliens-- and shortly after disappeared. Liv has accepted that he's dead, but every Sunday she and her friend Doug Monk continue to check the "alien traps" her father had set us. When they discover a creature so inhuman it can only be one thing, they choose to take matters into their own hands instead of turning him over to the authorities. --


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Liv Fleming is done with childhood fantasies. Done pretending she believes her missing father's absurd theories about alien abduction. Done going through the motions of checking the traps he set just for her friend Doug's sake. But 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. On the heels of the worldwide success of The Shape of Water, Daniel Kraus returns with a horrifying and heartbreaking thriller about the lengths people go to find justice

Author Notes

Daniel Kraus has landed on Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 Books of 2015 (The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch) and has won two Odyssey Awards (for Rotters and Scowler). With Guillermo del Toro, he wrote the bestselling The Shape of Water and Trollhunters (the inspiration for the Netflix series). His novels have been Library Guild selections, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults picks, Parent's Choice Gold Award winners, Bram Stoker finalists, and more. He lives in Chicago.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--As she was walking to school her freshman year, Liv Fleming came across an alarming sight: her father, the high school's English and drama teacher, naked and gibbering incoherently in the town square. He had been missing for four days. As the town looked on and EMTs loaded him into an ambulance, Lee Fleming shouted one phrase: "biologic evidence!" After a year spent claiming he was abducted by aliens, Lee went missing again, this time for good. Now, as Liv steadfastly trudges through her senior year, she has accepted that her father is dead, but that doesn't stop her from checking his alien traps every Sunday with her friend Doug, the town's outcast and Lee's disciple. However, she's fed up with childhood memories--she's leaving for college in a few months anyway--but on the day she decides to destroy the traps, the unthinkable happens--an alien is caught. Liv and Doug now face an impossible decision: turn the alien over to the authorities, or keep it a secret and try to find out what happened to Lee Fleming. Kraus dissects loss and anger through the underused genre of alien abduction. Liv and Doug's grief and fury toward the "skinner," as Lee calls the aliens, are fully and uncomfortably realized at times. The prose is lyrically visceral and can be unsettling, but the genuine voices of the characters lend themselves to a story that is ultimately a haunting and heartbreaking look at human suffering and the lengths we will go for our loved ones. VERDICT Beautiful prose does little to mask the anger of this powerful narrative. Readers will have a hard time putting this down.--Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn Public Library

Publisher's Weekly Review

Almost three years before this novel's start, high school senior Liv Fleming's father, Lee, a beloved high school English teacher, disappeared for four days. Eight months after he reappeared, naked and staggering in the town square of Bloughton, Iowa, he vanished again, for good. In the feverish days following his initial reappearance, Lee obsessively crafted a shed full of weapons and built a series of traps in the woods designed to catch the aliens that he claimed had abducted and experimented on him. When one of the traps ensnares a humanoid being, Liv and her childhood friend, outcast Doug Monk, restrain it in the shed for interrogation. But Doug, who loved Lee like a father, spirals out of control, convinced that cruelty is the only route to finding out what happened. Struggling to conceal this explosive secret amid her senior year and a burgeoning romance, Liv must decide whether she's willing to sacrifice her humanity in the same way, and the road to the truth is pitted with one uncomfortable twist after another. Kraus's blend of sci-fi and heart-stopping horror isn't for the squeamish, but it offers a viscerally terrifying examination of grief, othering, and the price of vengeance. Ages 14--up. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Feb.)

Kirkus Review

Can Liv put the pieces of her life back together after her father's mental breakdown?In rural Bloughton, Iowa, Liv takes solace in the cross country team and the idea that she will be off to college before too long. Three years ago, her father, the high school's former English and drama teacher, vanished only to return naked and talking about alien abduction. He disappeared for good eight months later. Liv and her friend Doug check the elaborate traps her father built in the woods during those eight months every Sunday. The teacher who replaced him decides to stage the same musical that was her father's swan song, and after getting in trouble for an outburst over her insensitivity, Liv decides to destroy the trapsbut discovers that one has caught an alien. After hiding the horrifying creature in her father's shed, they discover it has her father's compass. In anger, Liv attacks the beast and then she and Doug torture it repeatedly as revenge for her missing fatherbut the alien is not what they perceive him to be, and as the truth is revealed, the horror mounts. Kraus' (Blood Sugar, 2019, etc.) newest horror fantasy (there is no science here) might inspire more anger than horror as the protagonists respond to otherness with violence. Outrage will likely be followed by laughter at the stagy, manipulative, over-the-top conclusion. Most characters seem to be white.Few chills and even less logic. (Horror. 16-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.