Things take a bizarre turn when a car driven by a killer dressed as a clown runs her off the road, and Ugly Faces shifts from a narrative of a tense psychological journey and into a straight-up fight for survival against a crazed spree killer. Lexi’s overwhelming anxiety and experience of physical trauma shape the storytelling itself, as Lupo employs blackouts, time slips, and other clues that there's more going on under the surface than readers might initially suspect. Lupo is especially skilled at introducing shocking plot developments out of the blue in a highly understated manner, adding to the story’s surreal, apocalyptic quality. Part of this is using Lexi as a highly unreliable and even unstable narrator, as she introduces concepts that mean a lot to her–like her "funny faces"–while leaving the reader to puzzle over what she means.
However, every twist is earned, including the horrifying final ones, as it becomes clear just how and why a seemingly fragile young woman is able to face down a vicious killer. This is a dark and brutal story about how trauma can do horrible things and take people down a path of no return.
Takeaway: A tense roadtrip into psychological horror, told with suffocating power and killer twists.
Great for fans of: Andy Davidson’s In the Valley of the Sun, D. Alexander Ward’s Lost Highways.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B