Steve Rasnic Tem “Blood Kin” (Solaris, 2014)
When I was a boy I was both fascinated and terrified by kudzu. It was a plant that seemed to conquer everything in its path – fences, billboards, poles, and buildings – A PLANT! You couldn’t see it moving but obviously it did! AND WHAT WAS UNDER IT?
The mountains of Blood Kin are a strange place. It’s a place seeped in its own unique history, where the past is always with the present. In a place where there is poverty and ignorance, the people have family and faith. That’s what we hear all the time. The story that isn’t told is the story of families and their silent internal struggles. Or the dark sides of faith, the superstition and belief in things that science says just aren’t possible.
But all of those things are true, and all exist at the same time.
Blood Kin uses a framing story, set in the present day. Michael Gibson has come home. The excuse he’s giving is that he’s here to take care of his grandmother. But it seems to be as much about Michael as it is Sadie. While he’s there, he is hearing stories from his grandmother Sadie. And of course the stories have an impact on what happens in the framing story.
I absolutely loved Blood Kin. Most of the novel walks that line so important in the weird – what is literally happening? What is interpretation and what is reality? Blood Kin’s basis in the experience of life in the mountains sets up a world that is strangely alien to outsiders, yet I will wager is hauntingly familiar to a few.