One of the more nuanced and tension filled novels of the modern era, Kealan Patrick Burke's Kin is only the more remarkable for the fact that it is not written by an author from the backwoods areas of the United States, but rather an Irishman who visited the U.S. to research this writing.
Burke starts the story where 95% of previous horror novels and films would have left off: with a lone survivor running bloodied down a deserted back road. From there Kin expandw to become a tale of dealing with past trauma - be it the trauma of the lone survivor, the Iraq War veteran who cannot come to terms with the death of his brother, or the simple farm boy who has lost his father and way of life when he chooses to help the aforementioned lone survivor.
As you might already imagine from reading that last sentence, characters are key to Burke's story. The middle section of the novel is the slowest, yet it is also the most compelling as the characters become identifiable people (with the exception of the insane antagonists, most of whom are also dealing with their own traumas). So as the reader reaches the third and final part of the story, they are very likely holding their breath, hoping that most of these people that they've come to know will find a way to survive.
And though the fates of some of the characters are a surprise, others are dealt with in fairly perfunctory fashion. In fact, it's this section of the book that almost disappointed me. After such a wonderful opening two-thirds, the final part of Kin sells one character horribly short and almost seems to pull a happy ending out of the fire for another two that - at least in one case - did not feel earned to me.
Regardless, Kin is a wonderfully written, slow-burn of a horror novel that requires nothing more supernatural that religious fervour and unprocessed trauma to scare and unsettle its readers. If, as a horror fan, you have yet to take chance on this one, ask yourself what have you been waiting for?
4 Lanced Impurities for Kin.