Saint's Blood by Ryan C. Bradley
“Miracles do happen in Ryan Bradley’s dark and unrelenting Saint’s Blood but be warned: they come at no small price. Saint’s Blood is an impressive debut. I enjoyed it and I’m excited to see what Ryan Bradley writes next.”
- Owen King, author of Double Feature: A Novel
Ryan C Bradley, who has appeared in The Missouri Review, Dark Moon Digest, The Rumpus, and others, and edited the anthology When the Sirens Have Faded for A Murder of Storytellers makes his debut as a novelist with Saint’s Blood!
A deranged family attempts to harvest the blood of a professor in this voice-driven darkly comic philosophical horror novella. Saint’s Blood is a metaphor for the way mega-corporations and political polarization suck the blood and will out of people.
Adjunct college instructor Richie Mallory is kicking off his end of the semester bender when he’s confronted with any professor’s nightmares: the family of a student he failed show up at his favorite bar. The gigantic Oakleys drug him and after a brief struggle, take him back to their family farmhouse. Once they sober him up, they harvest his blood wearing the masks of ex-Republican presidents. Over time Richie ascertains that the Oakley brothers believe that because his Great-Uncle was a Catholic saint, his blood has magical properties that could cure Job—his former student and their brother—of cancer.
While their mother is on a cross country trip, the seemingly insurmountable Oakleys are left to their own devices, and plan to use, dismember, and discard Richie before she gets back. He’s bruised, anemic, and tied to a chair for 23 hours a day scrabbling madly toward any hope of escape.
Misery meets the Goonies as Richie tries to survive. Saint’s Blood is equal parts hilarious and horrific as Richie tries to figure out what’s happening. Is there actually magic in his blood? Can he get away before the Oakleys have drained him dry? What will be left of him if he does?
Hard to put down
I read this in two sittings just because I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. Suspenseful and vivid imagery, I felt like I was in Richie’s shoes. This isn’t the typical genre I go for but have no regrets picking it up. I can’t wait to see what Ryan Bradley comes up with next!
A haunting look at the desperate times of present-day America
A thrilling read, I couldn't put it down until the end. R. C. Bradley's book subtly yet powerfully captures the zeitgeist of America in the 2010s and early 2020s. TW: needles, torture, violation of consent