Book Review: Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem

18143940Title: Blood Kin

Author: Steve Rasnic Tem

Genre: Horror, Ghosts, Paranormal, Historical Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Steve Rasnic Tem’s new novel Blood Kin is set in the southern Appalachians of the U.S., alternating between the 1930s and the present day. It’s a dark Southern Gothic vision of ghosts, witchcraft, secret powers, snake-handling, Kudzu, Melungeons, and the Great Depression.

Blood Kin is told from the dual points of view of Michael Gibson and of his grandmother Sadie. Michael has returned to the quiet Appalachian home of his forebears following a suicide attempt and now takes care of his grandmother; old and sickly but with an important story to tell about growing up poor and Melungeon (a mixed race group of mysterious origin) while bedeviled by a snake-handling uncle and empathic powers she but barely understands.

In a field not far from the Gibson family home lies an iron-bound crate within a small shack buried four feet deep under Kudzu vine. Michael somehow understands that hidden inside that crate is potentially his own death, his grandmother’s death, and perhaps the deaths of everyone in the valley if he does not come to understand her story well enough.

Blood Kin is dark, unsettling, and deliciously creepy. Alternating between the 1930s and present day, it tells the legacy of a family haunted by mystery and horror, and something very dark and sinsiter.

Michael Gibson cares for his grandmother, Sadie. She’s old, sick, and on the verge of dying, but she clings on to life, with one last story to tell. The more she tells Michael about the history of his family, about an iron-bound crate buried four feet deep in a small shack, about mountain people he never even knew, the more he begins to realize the story’s importance. Not just for him, but for everyone in the valley.

What bothered me the most about the story is how disjointed it feels. I realize I’m not the first reviewer commenting on this, but it’s the truth. The first part of the book is mostly historical fiction, Southern gothic, with only a hint of the horror to come. It starts out strong, then the middle part drags on, expanding upon certain themes I’m not sure had to be expanded on, and then the end is one dashing scene of horror after the other. As if the book exists of two seperate genres smashed together in a less than favorable execution.

If the book had stuck to one genre, and would’ve been a bit shorter (the middle part really drags on), it would’ve been great. As it stands now, it’s a decent read, but not spectacular.


  1. Darn! I almost bought this based on the synopsis, but glad I read the review. I think the same things that bothered you would bother me as well. But damn! That synopsis sounds great!

Speak Your Mind