cover image Bless Your Heart

Bless Your Heart

Lindy Ryan. Minotaur, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-88888-4

Rue Morgue contributor Ryan melds mystery, horror, and family drama in her sharp solo debut about the descent of ancient ghouls on a small Texas town. In the summer of 1999, the women of the Evans family—matriarch Ducey; her daughter, Lenore; her granddaughter, Grace; and her great-granddaughter, Luna—witness recently deceased busybody Mina Jean Murphy rise from the dead, setting off alarm bells in Ducey and Lenore’s heads: for the first time in 15 years, the bloodthirsty, undead strigoi (“sort of like zombies and vampires combined”) have returned to Southeast Texas. But why? As the number of strigoi multiplies and the sheriff starts asking questions, the elder Evans women reveal bits and pieces of family history to the younger ones. Before long, it becomes clear that they may be the only family in the region who are equipped to stop their new, blood-starved neighbors from sucking the state dry. Ryan lays the mythology on thick, relishing details big and small about both the strigoi and the Evans family, sometimes at the expense of brisk pacing. Still, it’s a pleasure to spend time in her carefully rendered world, and she packs plenty of bloodshed among the copious exposition. This has bite. (Apr.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated the author’s role at Rue Morgue and was missing part of a character’s name.