Claire Lambert is the sole survivor of torture, found naked and half-blind on a road, having escaped the nightmare that took her best friends. Now that the danger has passed, she can’t help but wish for vengeance as the world blames the wrong man for her torment. She’s determined to return to the house that haunts her, to the depraved family that took so much from her, but she’s not the only one that wants to avenge the lost. Finch’s brother was among the murdered, and he too is out on the hunt, even if he doesn’t return.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
Finally I read my first Kealan Patrick Burke novel! Kin takes a different approach to the whole backwoods-family-killing-teens trope, and it does it by showing how life would continue after such a massacre – the show must go on, right? I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it when watching or reading a slasher; the aftermath that follows the final girl/boy, and how many people would be affected. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the survivor, and Burke really touched on the tremendous pain that can shatter the mind and body in different ways. There was Claire, of course, who had to watch her friends die while suffering herself, and Finch, his own trauma rooted elsewhere yet no less significant. So many emotions were given space, and after the downright unsettling beginning, I’d say the middle portion of book is where things slowed down, primarily focusing on the ripple effect that spread and inevitably connected lives. The writing was eloquent and beautiful with its prose, I immediately connected with it as it described horrific as well as touching subject matters. There was a also scene that genuinely made me laugh out loud due to how disgusting it was (yes, I laugh at things like that), and funnily enough the most disturbing things I’ve read in general have involved the exact same sort of theme.
The villains were extremely unpleasant, but that’s what made them all the more engrossing, Momma-In-Bed not something to soon forget. The Merrills were ruled by a so-called higher calling and a twisted notion of family, and it interested me to see their inner workings, especially the structure that shifted throughout. So often when it’s a family unit they’re of one mind, and Luke Merrill was an example of when doubts start to edge their way in despite a remaining sense of loyalty. As for the other characters, I think Beau was my favourite, but even so, all were given justice that I appreciated. I’m just a fan of character-driven content that examines experiences and decisions, and in this regard I think Burke is highly talented.
Admittedly, I found the ending to be a little anticlimactic. It’s not that I outright disliked it, but I was expecting a little more after all the build up that foreshadowed it. Out of the three acts, I enjoyed the first two more, but there was still a sense of tension that persisted, and I was always wondering what was in store, even hoping a particular few wouldn’t die, while the Merrills got their comeuppance.
In conclusion: Kin took some unexpected turns, honing in on two opposing sides after a bloodbath. Rather than be entirely centred on violence, it explored the hardship for all involved, and retribution was on the agenda. Don’t misunderstand, though, it was wonderfully gruesome when it wanted to be, so fans of blood and guts won’t be disappointed. With multiple developed characters and a writing style that appealed to me, I felt invested in the journey, yet the blow-out I anticipated as the climax left a little to be desired. Still, the baddies were so savage and abhorrent, the protagonists relatable, it was all around a brilliant read.
Finch thought such a noxious place appropriate for the quarry they were hunting, a natural miasma to which the corrupt would gravitate.
© Red Lace 2020
Great review. This was the first book I read by Burke. I’ve been reading him non-stop since then.
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Thank you, David! I definitely want to read more now, but there’s a lot to choose from. What’s your other favourites from Burke?
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We Live Inside Your Eyes, Sour Candy, Secret Faces, and Milestone: The Collected Stories are some of my favorites!
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