Youmans' MAZE OF BLOOD, inspired by the life of Robert E. Howard


Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2010
Here's a thread where people who have read Marly Youmans' 2015 novel, published by Mercer University Press, can discuss the book, and where links to reviews can be posted.

This thread is not intended to be a place for people to criticize a book they haven't read or for people to discuss their ideas about Robert E. Howard's life apart from the context of Youmans' novel.

Youmans writes, "While fiction, Maze of Blood was inspired by the life of pulp writer Robert E. Howard. Secondary sources essential to me were One Who Walked Alone by Novalyne Price Ellis; Blood & Thunder by Mark Finn; and Two-Gun Con: A Centennial Study of Robert E. Howard."
The novel begins with "Texas Curtain-Raiser." It shows protagonist Conall as readily intrigued by words, irritated by the attitudes of the people around him, and aware that things might have been different but determined to attempt his own way.
I'll be reading this in snatches. Not very far into it, I'm thinking the book it most reminds me of so far is Machen's The Hill of Dreams. It's written in what some will think, at times, an overwritten manner, and the story concerns a lonely young man dedicated to writing who is somewhat susceptible to erotic reverie and to feeling sorry for himself in the midst of people who don't feel as he does. (I like Machen, but I don't much like The Hill.) So far Youmans seems to preserve more distance from her protagonist than Machen did from the protagonist of his personal monument to literary decadence before he moved on. These are just some first thoughts and not to be taken too seriously.
I've reached a point in which, I think by a flashback after Conall Weaver (=Howard) has already killed himself, we are deep in the romance with Maybelline (=Novalyne). Youmans leads us to see Conall as attracted lifeward, towards Maybelline, and deathward, the unhealthy demands of Maeve, his mother; and also to see Conall as an honorable man, duty-bound to care for his invalid mother, and determined to keep writing even though his community seems, to him anyway, to see writing as an inappropriate occupation. The descriptive details generally feel right, important because Howard was a writer of his time and place.

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