During this Halloween season I have tried to review a range of books, much in the spirit of my Library Journal article, trying to find a book for every type of horror reader. Today's offering is the darkest, evilest, and bloodiest of the bunch. And even worse, this is a book without supernatural evil. The bad guys here are all human. But since this is what I was expecting...it was great!
Kin is about Claire who has been beaten and raped by the members of a family in a middle of nowhere southern rural town. The story is from Claire's perspective as she is rescued and tries to heal.
Kin is also about her abusers, an entire family of monsters. The story is also from their point of view. We see the evil they do, we get into their minds, and we are caught up in their story as much as we are in Claire's.
Kin is bloody, gory, and terrifying. It is a story that grabs you and won't let go. The advertising says it is like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but this is not accurate. This story is deeper, more emotionally wrenching, and more nuanced than that.
While there are shocking scenes of violence here, you read Kin to peer deeply into the evil soul of man. You read this novel for the characters, who are well developed from the sympathetic Claire to the evil villains.
If you want to be unsettled, anxious, frightened, without a supernatural monster in sight, and still be unable to stop turning the pages, Kin is the book for you.
Readalikes: A few authors who write violent but nuanced horror stories came to mind immediately when I was reading Kin. They are:
Also, the Southern Gothic setting is so intense it takes on the weight of a character here. Think Deliverance and Winter's Bone meet the late great, wicked mind of Richard Laymon. In fact, there is something of the rural noir here. I think Kin is a great opportunity for Southern Gothic fans and serial killer readers to unite in a story that will appeal equally to both.
*Full disclosure: Burke sent me a copy of this novel to add to my library's collection for free.