Book #107: The Butcher Boy

Oh man. Oh. Man.

Patrick McCabe’s The Butcher Boy details a young killer’s descent into madness. It’s narrated by the teenaged Francis Brady, usually known as Francie. Francie grew up in a small Irish town with his mother and father, and he’s just a wee bit nuts. If you combined Norman Bates and Huckleberry Finn, you’d probably wind up with Francie Brady. If that’s not enough to interest you in reading this book, I’m not sure what to tell you.

Francie is an interesting narrator because he can seem so sane and rational, especially in the beginning, but then you slowly realize that this kid is fucking crazy.

He’s definitely a flawed narrator – he’s telling this story years later after he’s been convicted of murder – but his voice is so interesting. I found myself alternately hating him, being terrified of him, and feeling profoundly sorry for him.

It quickly becomes clear that Francie is not well and needs help, but there’s not really any help to be found. The twists and turns the narrative takes and the way Francie’s voice shifts and changes as the story progresses makes The Butcher Boy compelling and interesting the whole way through. You don’t really have time to get bored or look away or even get complacent.

The way the story unfolds and the changes in Francie’s voice as he gets closer and closer to recounting the actual murder and events that followed is so compelling. I really, really liked this book, even though it was pretty disturbing.

Rating: ****
Up Next: Lolita

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