Monday, May 7, 2012

Family Matters, by Kathleen McKenna

Izzy is flying high; she is crazy in love with her artist husband, and she just landed a weekend anchor position for the station where she works.  But a bit of on air cheek has sent her spiraling into the dark world of the Mansion family.  Her remarks on Susan Atkins being imprisoned while dying from cancer caught the attention of the murderess and her lawyer husband.  Wanting to cash in on the fame of interviewing one of Manson's minions, Izzy begins communicating with Atkins.  Suddenly, eerie things begin happening to Izzy, and the only explanation is that Atkins is somehow haunting her.  But how, and more importantly, why?

As if the Manson family was not a creepy enough topic, Kathleen McKenna has readers changing their bloomers with the paranormal spin she puts on the tale.  First off, with a topic as emotionally charged as the Manson murders, it would be easy for an author to slip into camp with a fictionalized account.  But McKenna does a brilliant job of keeping the story pretty simple.  The historical background serves as a solid foundation, but the author builds a rich, decadent, mansion of a story on top of that solid foundation.  I thought the plot twists and turns were smart, and clever, and while I had some inkling of the general direction, the specifics kept me on the edge of my seat.

As always, McKenna gives us a well developed cast of characters.  I was so intrigued by Izzy as a character, and found myself wondering about her sanity and her humanity at times.  Izzy is a flawed woman, no doubt, that that is what makes her such a realistic character.  My heart broke for her a little, once the scarieness of the tale passed, and it started beating again.  I also liked the somewhat ambiguous ending.  We are never really sure what the truth of the matter is. 

McKenna is a brilliant storyteller, and once again, I find myself fascinated with the tales that serve as her inspiration.  I spent a day or two watching videos of Manson family members after reading this book.  And each time I watched Susan Atkins speak, I could not help but think that much of this book might not be fiction.  If you want a good scare, this book clearly delivers.  It will appeal to those who like modern historical fiction, paranormal fiction, or those like me who are just have a morbid curiosity.

I received a review copy of this book courtesy of the author.
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