Rachel Eve Moulton
This dynamic debut novel begins in motion — two strangers in a van charging through the barrens of South Dakota — and never lets its foot off the gas. Our narrator, Emma, leads us on a brutal and heartbreaking journey that is as delightful as it is disturbing.
Emma is on the run from her troubled past, wounded physically and spiritually, and hitches a ride with a dirtbag named Lowell. We meet her in peril, but soon learn that Emma is not as vulnerable as her circumstances suggest.
Leaving Lowell for dead by the side of the highway, she drives his van toward the Badlands as a snowstorm rolls in. Low on gas, Emma takes an off ramp in hopes of finding a rest stop, but instead rolls to a stop in front of a shuttered diner — but she is not alone.
Enter Earl, a precocious child wearing a tinfoil mask to cover scars of his own.
Emma is thrust into Earl’s nightmare home life, where they are stalked by his sadistic father. World’s collide when a figure from Emma’s past finds her in this abandoned town, bent on revenge.
Emma and Earl may be an odd couple, but both have a resourcefulness borne of abuse, and they have to fight together if either are to survive the Badlands.
This is easily one of the best novels I’ve read this year, and an introduction to a new author I’m excited to read more from. Among new authors to watch, I would place Moulton alongside Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Friday Black).
Hopelessness reigns throughout Tinfoil Butterfly. Emma claws her way out of one crisis into another, and the only victories available to her are Pyrrhic. By the end of this deathmatch all the characters have shed blood and flesh and will wear the scars forever.
Likewise, this book will haunt the reader long after it’s been finished and placed on the shelf.