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Maze of Blood    by Marly Youmans order for
Maze of Blood
by Marly Youmans
Order:  USA  Can
Mercer University Press, 2015 (2015)
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Marly Youmans truly writes a unique kind of prose. This story, which is based on the life of pulp writer Robert E. Howard, could have been Texas dusty and dry, with characters as plain and weak as the mundane world around them. Instead what we get is a wealth of stories based on timeless figures both real and imagined, along with amazing descriptions of nature - all this on top of the plot itself.

Conall Weaver, the son of a doctor and an Irish lady, is a writer who lives in a small Texas town incapable of believing that writing is something one can do for a living. His mother is quite ill with tuberculosis, and his father is unable to give her much care so mother and son are thrown together out of necessity. Together they read and tell stories that grow like mushrooms in Conall's head until his imagination runs riot at the least provocation.

Admittedly, sometimes it is a bit difficult to figure out what is happening beneath all the stories and descriptions, but those are all so fresh and interesting that we keep on reading. At the end we realize that a very toxic story has been bejeweled and bedecked with magical insights and sparkling prose. It is no surprise to learn that Youmans has published works of poetry as well. There is much for writers or would-be writers to ponder here.

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