It Drinks Blood (2011) Book Review
Book: “It Drinks Blood” (2011)
Author: J.F. Gonzalez
Reviewer: Gabino Iglesias
My Rating: 6 out of 10
“It Drinks Blood” is an interesting novella from J. F. Gonzalez that brings to the table a unique premise wrapped in solid writing and a lot of creepy suggestions. Nevertheless, horror fans should be aware of the fact that the chills in this book come from what is not said. In the story, Robert, the first person narrator, remembers a period of his life from his current place, a nursing home. What Robert recalls has to do with two very distinctive things that seem powerfully interconnected: one is Allison, a teenaged girl who used to be Robert’s neighbor many years before, and the second is the enigmatic Cleveland Torso Killer, a figure that, in a sense, represents the darkness of the Great Depression and which brings Allison and Robert together.
Robert, a pulp writer of moderate success, recounts a period of his adult life when he lived next to Allison and her mother Susan, who enjoyed the bottle a tad too much as well as the company of gutter-dwelling men. Robert and Allison became friends despite the age difference and Robert was slowly and indirectly brought into Allison’s wild imagination and, eventually, into her abusive home. While some might think, based on the cover or the title, that the novella centers on the Torso Killer or on a vampire, the truth is that “It Drinks Blood” is more of a psychological thriller based on Robert and Allison’s relationship. It also deals with a ton of raw emotions that explore the effects of child abuse and prove that a we can always find a culprit as long as we’re actively seeking for one.
Stylistically speaking, “It Drinks Blood” is a departure from the splatterpunk that fans have come to expect from Gonzalez based on his “Clickers” trilogy (which you should definitely check out if you haven’t done so already): the author leaves a lot to the imagination and concentrates on developing a situation in which the reader feels the frustration, anger, fear and even harbors the same far-fetched suspicions as the narrator. Instead of a good dose of gore, what this novella packs is a lot of history, emotions and hushed words about what goes on behind closed doors. By the end of the story, which is tightly contained between two instances of Robert in the nursing home, the reader is ready for a powerful ending that does not disappoint.
If you’re expecting “It Drinks Blood” to satisfy your gore craving, you should pick up a copy of “Clickers” instead. If what you’re looking for is a well-written eerie novella with a dark, oppressive atmosphere and a resolution that leaves you nodding your head, pick up a copy right now.