Title: Blood Kin
Author: Ceridwen Dovey
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Published: 12 July 2007
Blood Kin is a depressing novel. The story starts from the view points of a President’s barber, chef and portrait artist who are being held captive in the President’s Summer Residence after a coup in an unnamed country where the President has been has been replaced by the Commander.
None of the characters are likeable from those mentioned above to his barber’s brother’s fiancé, his chef’s daughter and his portraitist’s wife, each of whom tells a part of the story from their own point of view.
The technique of interweaving chapters from varying points of view makes for an interesting exploration of the situation, which is not as simple as it first appears. They are more than a barber, chef and portrait artist. Their lives are intertwined with the President though not in ways that you’d immediately imagine.
Because it is such a dark novel it’s hard to find any enjoyment from it. It is a not a novel read for entertainment. This is a novel of exploration. It is a novel of power and corruption and those who are attracted to it, their motivations and the lies they delude themselves with.
For all it’s bleakness it’s still worth reading as Dovey manages to build a story where each of these characters is revealed as creatures to pity as well as despise. They are in some ways victims of circumstances who seem to have no choice but to follow the path laid out for them.
Though if I do have one reservation it does seem a little too fantastical in parts especially some of the ways their lives come together. But then people of power aren’t that grounded in reality.
Overall, Dovey is an intelligent storyteller who delves a little too deep into darkness to make this entertaining though it is a thoughtful and haunting novel which makes me think of Evita without all the singing and dancing.