Brother by Ania Alhborn/The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

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Double header book review. Both of these books involve serial killers but in very different ways.

SPOILERS

Brother by Ania Alhborn

Michael is an awkward young man living in the West Virginian Appalachian mountains with Momma, Wade (father) older sister Misty Dawn and older brother Ray who has dubbed himself Rebel. The family keeps to themselves housing a dark family secret that tears at Michael’s soul and sanity as he tries to stay loyal to his family while wanting to break free and pursue a life far away. His desire to leave is intensified when he meets a pretty young woman, Alice, at a record shop in the nearby town of Dahlia.

From the beginning Michael is surrounded by the torture and death of Momma’s girls, young women he and Rebel abduct. Michael is powerless to help the young women he hears screaming in the night having been conditioned from a young age to obey and be loyal to his family. His forced obedience is not excusable after their deaths when he takes on the duties of  flaying, dismembering, and getting in a some touchy feely time with the corpses once Momma is done with them. Yeah, I think he’s got some wires crossed and it’s worse when the final victim is revealed to be his birth Mother. That’s right, the psycho bitch who he calls Momma is not his mother and Wade, Misty Dawn and Rebel aren’t his family. When Rebel is 7 or 8 he asked Wade to take him out and look for a new dog after he killed his and instead he found young Michael on the side of the road selling rocks. They kidnapped and raised him to be a cannibal killer. Rebel became jealous quickly and spent a lot of time working up an elaborate plan to get revenge by finding Michael’s family then killing his mother, eating her and then abducting his sister who turns out to be Alice, the young woman Michael has gone out on a couple of dates with.

I rated this 5 stars on Goodreads. When I read the description I wasn’t sure about it but I really enjoyed this book. Ania Alhborn’s writing is fantastic. She creates an engrossing tale that makes you feel uncomfortable given the content (it is not as gory as I had anticipated but might be for some others) but I couldn’t put it down. Obviously this isn’t a book for everyone given the graphic nature of killer cannibals but I highly recommend it.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Harper Curtis is a rough living loser in 1929 Chicago when his world changes forever after he stumbles into a house unlike any other. Somehow he is able to travel through time through the doors and his purpose for this extraordinary phenomenon – to kill his Shining Girls. On the bedroom wall are names and keepsakes for each of these girls that he is destined to kill and he will by travelling to each of their time periods. Harper is trying to close the circle but he made a mistake in not realizing that one of the victims, Kirby, survived and she is on the hunt to find the man who killed her dog (who ultimately ended up saving Kirby) and left her scarred physically and emotionally. With the reluctant help of her mentor at the Sun Times newspaper, Dan, Kirby sets on a path to find Harper while Harper continues killing his girls and making his way back to finish Kirby.

I read this after finishing ‘Brother’ so I guess I kind of have a serial killer thing happening now and this book was just as good. Lauren Beukes does a great job at the weaving through time and making Harper a despicable predator. The worst description of one of Harper’s attacks was Kirby’s as there was something so raw and brutal in the way the scene of the attack is laid out. This is another one I highly recommend and must note that it is not for everyone due to the fact that it is a serial killer who gets off on the kill.

Stylized D

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