Mark Matthews “Milk-Blood” Review

Posted: June 17, 2014 in Reviews, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,


Publisher: Wicked Run Press

Release Date: July 9, 2014

Length: 157 Pages

Submitted by the author for review

Synopsis: Lilly is ten years old, born with a heart defect, and already addicted to heroin. Her mother is gone from her life, and there are rumors that she was killed by her father and buried near the abandoned house across the street. The house intrigues her, she can’t stay away, and the monstrous homeless man who lives there has been trying to get Lilly to come inside.

For her mother is there, buried in the back, and this homeless man is Lilly’s true father, and both want their daughter back.

Milk-Blood is the newest horror novel from author Mark Matthews and focuses on Lily, a young girl who lost her mother and was born with a heart defect that made her stand out from the other kids. Lily lives on a street called Brentwood, a dangerous part of Detroit that is filled with abandoned, burned-out homes and drug dealers. Anyone that has ever lived in or near a big city knows what these sections of towns are like. The news often reports the real-life horror stories of murders, theft and every other crime imaginable and for a lot of us, that is the extent of our exposure. However, with Milk-Blood, Matthews places the reader right in the middle of one of these neighborhoods and offers a vivid look at the daily struggles of Lily and her family.

Lily’s father, Zach, is dependent on the grandmother’s food stamps in order to keep the family functioning. Often times throughout the novel, characters are constantly stating that they just need to make it until the first of the month and everything will be fine, for a few weeks at least. These characters are fighting for their survival on a daily basis and it requires a delicate balancing act.

After reading Matthews’ previous novel, On The Lips of Children, I remember praising the way he brought the characters to life and his strong characterization definitely carries over into Milk-Blood. Zach is an interesting character due in part to his ambiguous sense of morality. He has done a lot of horrible things, but it’s hard to paint him as an entirely bad person. His dark past has cost people their lives and yet he raises Lily – a child that is not his own – the best he can and cares for his elderly mother, fighting to do whatever it takes to keep them safe. His attempts at doing the right thing does not offset the horrors he has inflicted, but it does make him a unique and interesting character.

I also loved the way Matthews’ portrays Lily’s home-life by utilizing a brief interaction with a school counselor to really hammer home the struggles Lily faces on a daily basis. The counselor begins to ask Lily questions about her home-life, but then becomes distracted and in this brief moment we get an idea of who Lily is and how she was raised. Lily uses this interruption to formulate a response and reminds herself not to mention how they use the stove to heat the home when the heat is shut off or how her dad hits walls when he is angry.

The real-life horrors depicted in Milk-Blood are enough to scare you, but when Matthews introduces the mentally ill heroin addict Jervis and adds in a dash of the supernatural, the story becomes downright terrifying. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say the last three chapters of Milk-Blood are guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat!

A few weeks ago I called Milk-Blood one of my “most anticipated summer reads” and now that I’ve read it, it far surpassed the hype I had built up in my mind. Milk-Blood is an incredibly powerful story and is one of the most original horror novels I have read in years. I highly recommend picking up a copy when it is released early next month, you won’t be disappointed!

Rating: 5/5


Mark Matthews’ Official Website

Mark Matthews’ Amazon Page

Purchase Milk-Blood on Amazon

  1. Craig McGray says:

    Reblogged this on From Bright Minds Come Dark Things and commented:
    I’ll have to check this out!

    • Thanks for sharing the review Craig! I definitely recommend picking this up when it comes out, it is an awesome story and highly unique. I wish I could explain why, but I don’t want to spoil it! If you haven’t already, check out the sort-of prequel short story “The Damage Done” which is free on Amazon. It introduces you to one of the characters and will give you an idea of what Milk-Blood is all about.

  2. […] praised the novel in my review and the balance of real-life horror and supernatural made this one of the most original horror […]

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