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The Sign Of The Beast by Joyce Carol Oates

By Pamelascott

The National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling master of psychological suspense returns with the story of a young boy's sexual awareness disturbed by cruelty, obsession, and rage.

Eleven-year-old Howard was born with a birthmark on his cheek. His Sunday school teacher mockingly calls it the "sign of the beast." Too hateful to be named, for Howard she is only Mrs. S--. And she's as careless in causing him misery as she is wilful in arousing his shame. All Howard can do is look away-until he realizes he can turn the aggression on its head. When the hunted becomes the hunter, what will happen next?


[It was a time of sin. It was not a time of innocence]


(Amazon Publishing, 28 November 2017, ebook, bought from Amazon)



This story is taken from her upcoming collection Night-Gaunts And Other Tales of Suspense.

I really enjoyed the story. The story is split into three chapters. I thought the first one was the strongest section.

Mrs S_ is a great villain. What a horrible woman. She's cruel to Howard while appearing to be jovial and joking. She also acts inappropriate and bizarre for a Sunday School Teacher, wearing provocative clothing and stroking Howard's face. I really disliked her.

However, the story is weaker from about half-way point. It's still a good story but just not as engaging as the first part. Howard's behaviour is really odd. Why does he make the senseless choice he does? Is it because he wishes he'd done it?

The story picks up at the end and reaches a satisfying conclusion. I've already pre-ordered the collection and I look forward to reading the rest of the stories.

Sign Beast Joyce Carol Oates

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