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Cody Lakin
The Family Condition
Cody Lakin, author

Elodie Villeneuve has monsters in her family.

When Bennett and Elodie first meet, the connection is immediate and intense. Both of them are trying to escape the shadows of their pasts, hoping to make sense of their lives in the present. Although they're new to each other, their devotion runs deep. But the shadow that hangs over Elodie—the disturbing legacy of her lineage and the strange genetic condition that haunts it—cannot be ignored for long.

Meeting the family of your significant other is never easy. For Bennett, it means coming face-to-face with a reality outside his understanding. His curiosity has led him to strange, sometimes dangerous places before, but never to the precipice where love and darkness meet, along the blurry line that divides people from monsters.

Kirkus Reviews

Lakin offers a horror novel about a young woman’s very peculiar family.

Twenty-something Elodie Villeneuve’s parents live in a mansion, but their lives are hardly ideal. Elodie’s mother, Alodia, suffers from a bizarre genetic condition that’s effectively turned her into a muscular, violent, and wild animal. Although Elodie’s father Hugo can soothe Alodia, she’s dangerous for others to be around. As a result, she spends most of her time behind plexiglass. This is all news to Elodie’s new love interest, Bennet, whom she first meets at a nightclub. She’s sassy and confident, he cohosts a podcast about serial killers, and they seem to make a good match. As things get more serious between them, she brings him to meet her parents, and Bennet is shocked and fascinated by Alodia’s feral state. Alodia was once like any other human, but that was decades ago. Bennet steals Hugo’s journal to learn more about Alodia’s condition. It turns out that the family’s farm contains further horrifying secrets, and Bennet and Elodie make a road trip there that stirs up unwanted interest. This part-thriller, part-love story is one of viciousness and compassion. Hugo, for example, is off-putting when Bennet first meets him and even asks if Bennet is capable of “satisfying” his daughter; in time, however, it’s made clear that the adoration that Hugo has for his wife is touchingly real. The question becomes whether Bennet would show such tenderness to Elodie if—or when—she succumbs to the same condition as her mother’s. The situation turns into a larger consideration of what it means to suffer for a loved one. Some descriptions can feel overdramatic (as when one woman displays “an urgency in the void of [her] eyes”), but the story strikes a fine balance between violence and sentimentality, with plenty of throat-slashing action to keep things lively.

A surprisingly affecting tale of terror.