Not many readers may know of the sub-genre known as “Splatterpunk”. It is certainly not a genre that is for the faint of heart, as it usually involves graphic violence, sex and more. At the forefront of this genre would be author Edward Lee (you can check out our review of Lee‘s The Chosen here) but if you look deep enough, you can find a rather talented group of authors working within the confines of the genre. One of these authors would be Bryan Smith. With several novels under his belt, Smith seems to be gaining a dedicated fan base of people who like their literature a little grittier, and certainly bloodier. The Killing Kind is the first work from Smith that I have encountered, so the question is whether or not it will be a one and done situation for this horror fanatic, or if The Kiling Kind is good enough to warrant a reader searching for more of Smith‘s Bloodsoaked Pages.
The Killing Kind primarily tells the tale of Roxie, an incredibly attractive “goth” girl who just happens to have a penchant for torturing and murdering just about anyone who gets in her way. The book begins with Roxie taking Rob, another of our main characters, hostage at gunpoint and having him follow a van containing a group of college aged kids headed to an ocean front vacation home. It turns out that Chuck, the apparent leader of the group, made some snide remarks towards Roxie, and obviously the most rational course of action is to follow him and his friends across the state to murder them.
Throughout the book we are introduced to other characters, including a teenaged babysitter planning to have an affair with the father who employs her, as well as a couple of cannibal maniacs who have an affliction for necrophilia, who at first seem completely random from the story, but as the book builds to its bloody conclusion, everyone left alive all come together.
Let me get this out of the way right now: The Killing Kind is not high literature. But what it is however, is a quick, gory and fun road trip page turner. Once started, you begin solid relationships with the characters, despite how truly despicable some of them are. Given that the bulk of the readers time is spent with Roxie and Rob, Smith takes great lengths to ensure that while we see them and their actions as wretched and cowardly, respectively, they still come across as human (as possible given the circumstances) and in a way, likeable.
The books main weakness is undoubtedly the constant shifting between characters and their perspectives. Smith does his best with the auxiliary characters, like Chuck, his girlfriend Zoe, Zoe’s best friend Emily (with whom there is much more than meets the eye) and Julie, the aforementioned babysitter, but in the end, none of these other characters are as intriguing as Roxie, and to a lesser degree, Rob. So while the time spent with these other characters is crucial to the story and where it all leads, the reader will still find themselves yearning for more time with the insane Roxie and the weak willed Rob.
In terms of gore and mayhem, which is what most readers here are looking for, Smith loads the book up with enough blood and guts to satisfy most hardened gorehounds. People are shot point blank in the face, and there are eviscerations a plenty. Some of the characters also make sure to desecrate dead bodies with both sex and hunger. So if you are squeamish and can’t handle the idea of people having sex with dead bodies and/or eating those same bodies, this might not be the book for you.
Overall, with The Killing Kind, Bryan Smith has made a fan out of this horror fanatic, and I look forward to getting around to some of his other works, including the apparent continued adventures of the surviving characters in The Killing Kind 2. Be sure to definitely check out not only this book, but other books by Bryan Smith, who you can find on Twitter, GoodReads and his Official Blog. You can also grab a copy of The Killing Kind from The Deadhouse Store, which helps the site and gets you what you’re looking for, in either Paperback or as a Kindle eBook!