Posts Tagged ‘Kinfolk’

I saw this novel featured on Red Lace Reviews and got interested, so I asked my library to order a copy. Lo and behold, they ordered one, and I got through it in about two weeks (it would’ve been sooner, but I had to skip some lunch breaks due to workload or illness). And as often happens when I get my hands on new horror, I have to review it.

Kinfolk follows Ray and Eric, two brothers who have been brought together after years of separation to wrap up some unfinished business. However, while traveling through the backwoods of Texas, they get lost and stranded, and find themselves at the mercy of a twisted, cannibalistic clan who have way more firepower than they do, as well as enough bloodlust to match. In a moment, the brothers’ thoughts of revenge are pushed out by a much greater need to simply survive.

So if “backwoods of Texas” brought to mind images of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, don’t worry, because that’s been a lot of people’s impressions. In fact, it wouldn’t be too far off to call this book an updated TCM without the chainsaws. And given my own dislike of the original TCM (bite me, Tobe Hooper fans, that movie’s shock value has waned after forty-five freaking years!), I’m happy to say that I enjoyed Kinfolk a lot more.

Kinfolk does a very good job of freshening up the “rural, cannibalistic, in-bred family” trope. Rather than portray all of the members of the clan as outright crazy and obviously dangerous, a lot of them on first glance seem normal, which plays into a sense of false safety before we’re given a rude awakening. And the concise language helps evoke the story in your head so you can plainly see (and occasionally feel) the Texas setting, with all its hidden dangers.

The main characters are also fun. Ray and Eric are by no means saints. They won’t win any awards for intelligence, and they don’t come off as even the romantic sort of criminals one might find in a novel like this, but there’s something about them that makes you want to root for them and hope they survive whatever’s about to befall them. Maybe it’s because they’re underdogs, just trying to get by and find some peace in a world that doesn’t always allow for peace or sense for any length of time.

If I had any problems with the novel, I’d say that it did play into a few tropes a bit too much, and that made it at times a little predictable. Especially when you’re like me, and you’re used to trying to guess how things will play out from the writer’s POV.

However, Kinfolk was, on the whole, an enjoyable read that I had trouble putting down. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ll give the novel a 4. If you want a fast-paced horror story that manages to put a fresh coat of paint on a certain horror story, then fill up the tank and drive right in. You won’t be disappointed.

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