The Boys

Regal House Titles
$18.95 - $28.95
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Darling Jean Bramlett has been accepted into the college of her dreams. In the first thrilling days of her freshman year, she works hard in her classes and dreams of becoming a famous poet and a scholar. Then she meets two upperclassmen, Lucas and Lowell. Brilliant, handsome, confident, they seem to be everything she wants to be. They pull her into their orbit, and with them she embarks on a series of increasingly bizarre and violent adventures, ultimately resulting in murder.

Praise for The Boys

“At first, you’ll think, wow, these three friends are a bit out of control, aren’t they? And then you’ll think this is really scary, so you’ll catch your breath, but then bad gets worse. Still, you can’t put the book down. There are mysteries here to be solved. John Hughes handles this page-turning tale of depravity, mayhem, and evil with sensitivity and mettle. He an enchanter, casting his spell with fresh and provocative language, hypnotic sentences, and irresistible characters. So grab yourself a drink, a stiff one, make it a double, settle into your easy chair, open The Boys, and begin. You’re home for the evening. And I promise you this, Lucas and Lowell will haunt your dreams.”

– John Dufresne, author of I Don’t Like Where This Is Going

“It is what remains undefined that speaks most definitively in this startling journey about friendship. As three outsiders wander one into the other in a conservative college classroom, relationships, secrets, and desires rearrange across a landscape that becomes devoid of borders or mirrors. It’s a place where accountability exists only in mutual dark stirrings and a teethed and restless intellect. Inside dorm rooms, honkytonks, and the muddy rivers of rural Arkansas, the dialogue is so bitingly substantive that even peripheral characters and the mundane have measure. Meanwhile, angling head-long at full volume down country roads is the momentum of a dark reckoning. An excellent read that defies labels and expectations.”

–Laura Sobbott Ross, author of To the Patron Saint of Wayward Daughters

“John Calvin Hughes’ The Boys is up-to-the-minute Southern grit, with a strong nod to the best of the region’s literature and at its heart a profound question: Why do people commit evil acts, and who is really to blame? Hughes has a wonderful eye for the language, habits, and milieu of today’s college students, and yet produces a timeless portrait of a strong Arkansas family. This murder-mystery-within-a-mystery may at times shock the reader, including with the very first scene, while also regaling them with a clever plot. The protagonists/antagonists are all smart, savvy, intellectuals, but what lines will they not cross? The reader will enjoy finding out.”

–Glenda Bailey-Mershon, author of Eve’s Garden

“Bright young woman goes to a liberal arts college in the South, meets a couple of glib, handsome, would-be philosophers in class who might be the worst kind of bad influence. In John Calvin Hughes’ witty and often lyrical prose, our protagonist reveals her own intelligence, and her awareness of her confusing need for male validation, especially from this pair of adventuring show-offs. In this dark Svengali tale, a question forms that keeps the pages turning: will she follow The Boys anywhere? Even if it’s straight to hell?”

–Susan Lilley, author of Venus in Retrograde

“A freshman girl at a small Arkansas college forms a unique bond with a pair of bright, mesmerizing, inseparable boys. As her feelings deepen, she senses something unsettling about their three-way relationship and the mysterious events on campus. Hughes has crafted a richly Southern thriller with a plot that unfolds so lyrically, so naturally, that you feel like you’re riding shotgun on a dark country road. The Boys reminded me of one of those classic thrillers like Diabolique or Vertigo, with a set of well-drawn characters and a story that just keeps moving forward, where you know something’s wrong but you’re not sure why it’s getting under your skin until it hits you like ice-cold river water. I read the last hundred pages in one night; I had to know what happens.”

–Jude Atwood, author of Maybe There Are Witches

“One of the marvels of this strange and off-kilter novel, where at one point ‘every light is halo ringed and every line gone non-Euclidian,’ is how beauty shines in the midst of darkness and violence. In a freshman university experience like none other, Darling’s enmeshment in the perverse escapades of two new male friends deepens in every scene. She becomes so gripped by the need to belong with these particular boys, that boundaries of self and violation blur. In this Blakeian examination of innocence and guilt, Darling may be ‘unraveling the braids of starlight and love’ but, the novel asks, what does love, anyway, have to do with desire? Readers are left to wonder how Darling will find a place in the world now that she has realized a kinship with darkness.”

–Darlin’ Neal, author of Rattlesnakes & The Moon Darling

“Jean Bramlett, the main character in John Calvin Hughes’s The Boys, is a first semester freshman at an Arkansas university when she meets ‘the boys,’ two upperclassmen who will change her life forever. Darling is smart and funny, but the boys are smarter, funnier, and certainly more experienced. Like many young women in her situation, she is smitten with their physical beauty, their intelligence, their fearlessness, and their never-ending analysis of everything which include riffs on philosophy, literature, Madonna, and the power of language. She falls for them both and wants them both. Hughes’s command of the language is deft and compelling, his wit clever and genuine, but the beauty of the story is how we are given insights into what it means to be a girl and young woman, to become entranced with the universal desire to love and be loved. Darling learns, like most of us, the ambivalences of life, that one is badly mistaken to believe the world is black and white, when the grey is all around us.”

–James Ladd Thomas, author of Lester Lies Down