Each of the (eighteen) stories in Darci Bysouth’s debut collection Lost Boys documents a world in the process of unravelling, as the inhabitants of these richly drawn narratives face losing what they hold most dear.
The rivalry between two brothers in “Meat” mirrors a nation divided, with bitter consequences. “Cryptodome” sets two sisters’ guilty collusions against Mount St. Helens, which is on the brink of eruption. In “Petey”, a father realises the ghastly implications of his daughter’s all powerful love for him. A teenage girl outgrows her idolized brother in “The Heartbreaks”, after a road trip to a seventies rock concert goes awry. A randomly violent incident in “Sacrifice” reveals the treachery within a lonely woman’s relationships, while “Hold” gives a grieving widow a glimpse of hope in the supernaturally dark waters of a childhood lake. The title story depicts a sister struggling with her brother’s declining mental health, only to question her own grasp of reality.
Bysouth’s writing style leans toward the literary and traditional, but it does employ threads of magic realism especially as the characters’ react to their loss and grief. These emotional shifts create moods that range from love to horror and from hope to confused absurdity. The story elements, though, remain traditional with accessible plots, varied and unique settings, and well-made characterizations.