The Poor and The Haunted – Book Review
Author: Dustin McKissen
Genre: Horror, mystery, family trauma
My rating: ★★★★☆
Release Date: Published 31st October, 2019 by Black Rose Writing
Format: Ebook, 153 pages
“Love is expressed in all sorts of ways, words being the least important among them.”
The Poor and The Haunted is definitely a horror story it just may not be your ‘classic’ horror tale. The elements are there but they twist around the real-life horror. Trauma is a main feature in McKissen’s story of two young people who get a shocking start in life with terribly drug-addicted parents – but worse than just addicted, they are nasty, selfish and violent.
The thing about this novel is that while it presents the worst in life – and believe me, it was harrowing – right there alongside it is the best. There were some beautiful relationships illustrated between the siblings, Jimmy and Kelly, a cop called Carlisle who takes the kids under his wing, and also between an adult Jimmy and his family. Those relationships were a treat to read about and it endeared the characters to me in a way that had me deeply invested in their outcomes.
The writer’s version of Jimmy’s grown up family showed some sweet parenting that was down-to-earth and very relatable, and he delivered the story sensitively, with characters who felt believable.
McKissen used two devices. An observer who regularly states what they see happening in the story and of alternating chapters for present time (2019) and the late nineties to early 2000s. Both methods worked really well (which is great because they would be tiresome if they didn’t).
This wasn’t a perfect novel. I found it shaky in the beginning and I wondered if it would be a drag to read. Then, a few chapters in I changed my tune. Regarding the ending….I was very pleased (I’ll just leave it at that), and I struggled to stop reading at several junctures, I was so desperate to find out what happened.
I’m SO glad I read this – huge thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Black Rose Writing, for my free copy in exchange for honest review.