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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
Told from several points of view, Milk-Blood by Mark Matthews is an urban horror novella about ten-year-old Lilly, her dysfunctional life and poor neighborhood. Born with a heart defect, she’s already addicted to heroin and intrigued by the abandoned house across the street. A mysterious homeless man lives there, and he’s been trying to get Lilly to come inside. I’m impressed with the premise and the way Matthews developed it into the fast-paced plot. It’s dark, disturbing, and its gripping narrative will certainly arouse one’s concern about drugs, poverty and the innocent children trapped in that side of society.
Milk-Blood is a real horror story. There’s no need for creepy monsters and supernatural beings here. The humans are enough to incite terror in readers’ minds. That said, there’s a supernatural undertone, but it’s presented in a more realistic manner. It particularly delves into the subject of drug addiction without hesitation. I empathized with Lilly instantly, the daughter of junkie parents, who unwillingly became trapped in the same situations as them.
The transitions from one point of view to another are smooth and deftly executed, another aspect that shows Matthews’ skill as a writer. I found the included author’s notes odd at first, but they made sense as I read through until the end. On the whole, some readers might find this tragic story too upsetting. On the other hand, this brutally frank and gritty novella is a brilliant read and undeniably thought-provoking. Simply put, Milk-Blood is highly recommended.