The first part of this book (roughly 25%) is a white-knuckled ride that will leave you feeling as if you had drank half a pot of coffee. You know---nerves on end, jittery, and unable to sleep. Blood soaked and violent yet lyrical in a way that reminded me of the classic Southern Gothic novel As I Lay Dying (Faulkner) with the modern edge of Cormac McCarthy.
Then now that Burke has your attention, he settles in to the meat of this dark, disturbing yet beautiful story. We are taken deeper than we would care to go into the home and the minds of a murderous cannibalistic family living off of visitors unlucky enough to enter their land near Elkwood, Alabama. It is like you are there. You can almost smell the decay and filth in their home. You can almost hear the blood dripping in their barn from the countless victims tortured there. You can almost hear their breath and feel them gazing at you.
Claire Lambert, the only survivor of a group of four friends, has escaped this monstrous family but the horrific wounds on her body pale in comparison to the damage done to her soul. And the loved ones of other victims of this family bear their own scars. No one is at peace. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion. We are going back to Elkwood.
Riveting, compelling and darkly fascinating. You will not soon forget these characters.