Nev Murray's Reviews > Milk-Blood

Milk-Blood by Mark  Matthews
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bookshelves: 100-200-read, 2015

This review of Milk-Blood by Mark Matthews is the result of a copy sent to Ginger Nuts of Horror in exchange for an honest review.

As I like to do with review requests coming into Ginger Nuts, this is the first time I have read Mark Matthews. It won’t be the last but this one has left me, eh, disturbed is probably the best description.

Lilly is 10 years old. She has cyanosis. It basically makes her skin a bit blue and a bit see through. Her mom has gone. She doesn’t know where to. She doesn’t know her dad has killed her and buried her across the street. She doesn’t know her dad isn’t her dad. Jervis is a homeless man living in the derelict house across the street. The same one her mom “lives” at. Jervis has secrets too. He also has a lot of voices in his head telling him to do all sorts of nasty things. Lilly is becoming addicted to heroin. Jervis wants her to come stay with him. She has no idea why but she’ll find out soon enough.

OK. I really don’t know where to go with this. I knew this had to do with drug use. The definition of Milk-Blood after all is removing the blood containing drugs from an addict and injecting it into yourself thus getting a high. Wonderful. Sickening. Harrowing to think that people actually do this.

That is the thing that disturbed me the most about this book. The author has been involved with addiction and mental health treatment for a lot of his life so he should know what he is writing about. But, by god it was hard to read at times.

It begins with Lilly’s mom and dad, being told in the third person. The first chapter is repeated, seeing it from both parents’ points of view. This was an interesting concept but when it then changed from third person to first person, seeing things through the eyes of Lilly I thought this a bit weird. Mr Matthews also has “Notes from the Author” at various points throughout the story and I also found these a bit off-putting.

In essence the story follows Lilly in her struggles with potential bullying in school. It follows her and her dad’s permanent battle with child protection services and then her addiction to heroin. The bum Jervis who lives in the burnt out house across the street comes into the story more and more as the voices in his head try to convince him to do things for them regarding Lilly. I can’t tell you what they want him to do because that will spoil a lot of the plot for you.

Characters wise you have very strong individuals all battling various problems for various reasons. Lilly is a little girl, but one who knows what to do to keep the authorities off the family’s backs. She is growing up but unfortunately makes some bad choices along the way. Her dad is a man battling all sorts of evils. In one sense he is strong and in another, so weak it’s unbelievable. I’ll let you make your own mind up in what way. Jervis is probably my favourite character in the story. The scenes where we get to know more about him are fantastic. We truly get inside his head, listening to his conversations with himself, his friends and the ghosts. A fascinating insight as to what it could be like in someone’s head.

I’m at a bit of a loss to tell you much more about this one without giving you spoilers. I don’t think it is the greatest writing in the world, but, it is very effective writing. I mentioned to my wife a few times while reading it that I found it disturbing. This, I suppose proves the point that it’s very effective if it gets you thinking about it enough to discuss it with someone not interested in it. The scenes of drug use that it uses are disgusting at worst, harrowing at best, especially when it involves a child using drugs. It does however make you think about what it must be like to live like that. I’m not sure if this is what Mr Matthews set out to do but if he did, he achieved it very well.

To summarise: Urban horror. Don’t be expecting jump out of your seat moments but it is definitely horrific. Harrowing. Sad. Very very dark. A good read but it will, I suspect take you a bit longer to read than normal. You may need to take a break or two.

How do I rate something like this? I have no idea. It’s one of those books that 20% in, I was thinking two stars. Then it moved to four, then back down again. I think I have to go right in the middle because I simply cannot make my mind up. If I re-read the story it may change.
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Reading Progress

January 22, 2015 – Shelved
January 22, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
March 5, 2015 – Started Reading
March 8, 2015 – Shelved as: 100-200-read
March 8, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015
March 8, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Jason Parent just finished this one. Disturbing to say the least...


message 2: by Nev (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nev Murray I have to totally agree Jason.

I'm about 60% Through it and still don't know what to make of it.


Jason Parent It will be interesting to see your review!


message 4: by Nev (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nev Murray Lol I have just this second finished typing it up. Sending it off to Jim at Ginger Nuts of Horror so sorry but I won't post it until he does


Jason Parent I'll look for it over there.


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