A sinister novel based on the real Bloody Benders, a family of serial killers in the old West bound by butchery and obscured by the shadows of American history.
The winds shift nervously on the Kansas plain whispering of travelers lost and buried, whispering of witches. Something dark and twisted has taken root at the Bender Inn.
At first the townspeople of Cherryvale welcome the rising medium Kate Bender and her family. Kate’s messages from the Beyond give their tedious dreams hope and her mother’s potions cure their little ills—for a price. No one knows about their other business, the shortcut to a better life. And why shouldn’t their family prosper? They’re careful. It’s only from those who are marked, those who travel alone and can easily disappear, that the Benders demand their pound of flesh.
But even a gifted seer like Kate can make a misstep. Now as the secrets festering beneath the soil of the family orchard threaten to bring them all to ruin, the Benders must sharpen their craft—or vanish themselves.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
(3 / 5) In 1871, The Bender family became notorious for their serial killings. In the book they are a mixed family with Kate, the daughter, taking the lead on the killings.
The story is set in the old west, which is a setting I’ve never read before. The people were humble and hard-working and did what they needed to survive. The Bender family just had a different way of achieving that.
“It just will not do to let people see the maggots that crawl inside you.”
They were atrocious people! I say that as I laugh but from the book’s standpoint, they really were horrible people. Kate was all about manipulation to get what she wanted. She did it to her family but also the people in town, especially men. John, her stepbrother, was in love with her and did all things for her in the name of love. I’m rolling my eyes here because he was terribly interesting in all the wrong ways. Sadly, the parents weren’t any better.
With a synopsis like that, I’m surprised I didn’t love this one. It just didn’t hold my attention. About halfway through reading, I received the audiobook and that helped a bit but not liking any of the characters kept me disinterested. I can’t say this will be the same for other people. Sometimes the story carries the book with very unlikeable characters, that just wasn’t the case for me.
AUDIO REVIEW: The audio held my attention much better than the book did. I loved the multiple narrator aspect, it made it feel like I was getting inside Kate’s head, which is a very interesting place to be!
General content summary: little to no language, woman physically abusing husband, threat with a knife, previous killings (some details of “cutting”), a woman has buried 5 children (no details), séance (multiple, talking to spirits of those that have died), a teen is romantically interested in his stepsister, a young woman injuring a young man in the crotch with her hand, m/f intimacy (details), physical violence (father to son, some blood), alcohol (multiple), death by hammer and disposal of body (blood, multiple), enjoying killing (multiple details), infidelity (very few details), stabbing stomach (blood, death), physical violence (fists and blood, multiple), poisoning a baby (death), many killings (some details on how it’s done but few of afterward), a form of dementia and hallucinations (multiple), hanging (details), death/killing of a teen and hanging (reference to, no details).
Thank you to Berkeley Books and PRH Audio for the complimentary copies!
The book releases November 22, 2022.
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