William Cook is a painter of impressions and moods, artfully rendering complex, authentic characters and weaving a twisted, darkly psychological narrative.
In his exploration of the minds of a pair of prolific serial killers (those peculiar creatures of popular morbid interest), Cook introduces us to the Cunningham brothers – products of a long hereditary line of aberrant, pathological behaviors. For Caleb, our central narrator, killing is more than a habit – it is an obsessive art form, personal and highly selective. His brother, Charlie, on the other hand, is a human wrecking ball – careening from victim to victim as he plans grandiose mass murders like a one man terror squad. Both present acute symptoms of varied psychoses – suffering delusions and hallucinations, suicidal ideation, and displaying a generally tenuous grip on reality. In this way (much like the character of Quentin P. in Joyce Carol Oates’s Zombie), Caleb serves as an unreliable narrator in the tradition of Poe, accentuating the twisting, fever-dream nature of the narrative.
Cook takes a carefully measured approach to scenes of extreme violence, which speaks much to his talent. Too often works of horror are overloaded with grue, overpowering the narrative and thus breaking aesthetic distance, putting the reader off the text. The imagination must be free to run, and Cook appreciates this.
If you’re looking for a truly haunting ride into the primal depths of the psychopathic mind, Blood Related is for you. Be sure to leave the lights on.
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Review Written by W.J. Renehan