Book Review: Kin

KIN | Kealan Patrick Burke
10.25.2011 | CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Rating: 5/5 stars


Claire Lambert has escaped from a nightmare situation. She is the sole survivor from her group of friends that were abducted by a backwoods, cannibalistic family, known as the Merrill’s, in Elkwood, Alabama. Now, naked and covered in blood, she is trying to make her way to the road, to the possibility of safety. When good samaritans, Pete and his father, decide to pick up Claire they open up the door for a series of events that hinge on the desire to seek revenge for what the Merrill family has done.

The fate of this group of friends resulted in an impact radius that expands beyond just those who were held prisoner by the Merrill’s. There is the brother of one of the friends, a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, hell-bent on murdering the Merrill’s. A waitress who is trapped in an abusive relationship with a connection to Elkwood, which will bring the past she has always wanted to avoid, knocking at her door. At the center of those impacted is Claire, who is trying to regain a sense of self in a world that she cannot recognize. The physical and mental impacts of her captivity make her unable to focus on anything except revenge. How will all of these lives collide? Will the Merrill’s meet a fate that fits the horrors they have brought to others?

No one ever got away. Not for long. To let someone escape was an unimaginable mistake they had managed to avoid for as long as Luke has been alive. Papa-in-Gray had showed them how and what to hunt, and why it needed to be done, and they had executed his instructions flawlessly.

KIN is a horror story deeply rooted in classics, such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with all the elements a reader will love. The Merrill’s, headed up by Papa-in-Gray and Momma-in-Bed, are in a league of their own. They have raised their sons on a belief system that justifies their cannibalistic notions and violent behavior in a God who approves of murdering the Men of the World to stop them from spreading their poison. The terror that this family enjoys inflicting on others and as punishment among their own will leave your jaw on the floor. The gore and bloodshed are done in a way that balances heart-pounding, repulsive scenes, without turning the reader away or feeling cheesy or overdone. The Twitterverse wanted to know when I hit “that scene” and I immediately was excited…well there was zero disappointment! Holy crap!! At the same time that my jaw was on the floor in shock, I also wanted to clap my hands and keep reading to find out what was next! That to me is the epitome of a well done horror scene.

Living is hard; Death is easy. And there are no answers on either side.

What sets Burke’s literary prowess above the rest is his ability to go beyond the terror and the gore. KIN has all of that, but it also has heart and a story worth reading about. Instead of focusing on the abduction and torture, Burke chooses to focus on the aftermath and the way such an event would impact those involved, as well as those closest to the victims. Without giving too much away, I would like to declare my love for the character of Pete, who was with his father when they found Claire. Pete is such a genuine character and watching the impact the Merrill’s had on his life was captivating. Prior to picking up KIN, I had only read Burke’s novella SOUR CANDY. This book has truly solidified him as an author I am passionate about reading more from and will be recommending to anyone who will listen! As I continue my journey into the horror genre, authors are going to have to step up their game to meet the expectations KIN has set.

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