Published in July 2012 by Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House
Most twelve-year-olds don’t know much about death, and that’s the way it should be. But a handful get the knowledge too soon. You can see it in their eyes, a sliver of sorrow floating in the iris, visible even at the happiest of times. Those kids have encountered that enemy, too soon and will always bear its scars. . .
Lucretia and the Kroons is a frightening story about the power of friendship and love between two young girls. Lucretia, known as Loonie, has just turned twelve and wishes she could celebrate with her best friend, Sunny. Sunny’s suffering from cancer so her treatments, along with her frail health, have kept the girls apart for months. When Loonie is finally able to see Sonny, tragedy strikes and it will take everything that Loonie is made of to bring her friend back from the grips of death.
I find it amazing what Victor Lavalle has managed to do with less than a hundred pages. During the first few pages of Lucretia and the Kroons, you would think this is just a normal story about kids. The novella is set in present-day New York City in an old apartment building. Loonie has just finished celebrating her twelfth birthday with three girls that she really don’t care for, wishing that Sunny was there instead. When Loonie’s older brother, Louis, tells her the story of the Kroons, a family of drug addicts that lived two stories above, and used to snatch children or worse, slowly the horror rolls in and readers learn that there is so much hidden behind this façade of normalcy. But isn’t that what great horror shows us? Peel back even a few layers of the everyday world and underneath is something almost unrecognizable.
The Kroons are a frightful bunch who lives between the world of the living and a sort of urban purgatory. Loonie’s battle with them to find Sonny and bring her back is fantastical and eye-opening. I love how Loonie is a child. She only has a child’s knowledge of the world around her and readers see that there’s so much she doesn’t know. Loonie isn’t like some of the kids I’ve been reading about in other books where they’re basically adults in child form.
My only problem with this book is the ending. Lavalle should have deleted one of the last paragraphs. It’s supposed to be a bridge to his latest book, The Devil in Silver, but it feels more like an afterthought.
Even with the less-than-awesome ending, I highly recommend Lucretia and the Kroons. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
There’s an excellent short post about how Victor Lavelle got the idea for the book on Everyday eBook. You should check it out.
This review is part of the week-long celebration called A More Diverse Universe. To read other reviews, click here.