Blood Worth by D.B. McKenzie
Release Date: March 31, 2021
Publisher: Gurt Dog Press
Genre: LGBTQIA+ Urban Fantasy/Horror
Content warnings: Violence, gore, homophobia, elements of racism, mental health issues
The pills only help if the monsters aren’t real. Sadly, Devon McKenzie figured that out a little too late.
Running from his homophobic father and a mental diagnosis he’s unwilling to accept, Devon finds himself in Sudbury where the people are friendly, the parks are quiet and a looming shadow cast by the local Centre taints the idyllic village life.
Unfortunately for Devon, the Centre is his only hope of maintaining his new-found freedom.
Selling his blood to an organization that no one seemed to truly know anything about wasn’t very high on his list of things to do but after signing a contract, Devon finds himself as bound to the Centre as the poor souls that came before him.
The contract promised money and security, it didn’t say a thing about dead donors, a mysterious shadow dog that was definitely a wolf, or the return of horrific visions that Devon thought he’d buried when he’d left the psychiatric institution that his parents had sent him to years ago.
As the Centre’s secrets continue to grow, Devon begins to realize that Sudbury isn’t the quaint little village he believed it to be. Monsters linger behind every gentle smile and the more Devon digs, the weaker his grip on his sanity becomes.
With another donor’s life hanging in the balance, Devon finds himself in a race against time to figure out what the Centre is truly hiding before it’s too late for all of them.
But the only truth that exists in the quiet town of Sudbury, is that what you see isn’t always what you get and a few drops of blood may be worth more than humanity could possibly imagine.
This book did not disappoint! I was looking for a queer urban fantasy surrounding blood and monsters, and that is what I got. The writing was phenomenal and reading it was a breeze and I still understood everything that was going on. The characters are varied and vivid, providing a cast that you can root for. Devon and Tara are a dynamic duo who can take on the world. Devon has a big heart, trusting others even though the world has hurt him one too many times, and Tara is the friend that he needs to get him through this new adventure in a place he has never been before.
This is a delightfully creepy book with queer characters and enough monsters to satiate anyone’s craving for urban horror.
Devon’s mom used to tease him that he would cut off his nose to spite his face, but he also knew when to swallow his pride. While the Centre would never be his first choice for employment, turning down Mr McAllister’s offer would have been beyond foolish. So Devon washed away any lingering resentment in his morning shower, then dug through his bag until he found something office-worthy to wear.
Tara’s semi-serious expression cracked when she caught sight of him. Her smile went a long way to ease the paranoia that clawed its way to life the second he stepped through the door, disguised as tenseness in his neck and shoulders.
“I didn’t expect to see you back so soon,” she greeted and Devon could only offer her a shrug. He didn’t remember saying goodbye to her the day before, so he wasn’t surprised that she thought he wouldn’t return.
Honestly, Devon barely remembered leaving the building.
What he did remember was cashing his check, handing in his deposit and moving his stuff out of the motel, before booking into a hotel that allowed for long stays and didn’t make his skin crawl.
On the way to the hotel, following the directions that the motel clerk had reluctantly given him, Devon had stopped only once to dump the familiar bottle of Clozapine pills that he’d unknowingly packed, before resuming his journey. He’d ordered room service from his new room, showered until his skin started to wrinkle and then collapsed onto a bed so soft, he’d flirted with the idea of never moving again.
He wasn’t going to tell Tara all that so instead, he offered her a rueful grin.
“I’m not dumb enough to turn down a job,” he responded, watching in amusement as Tara all but vibrated in her seat.
“So does that mean you’ll be working with me then?” she queried, beaming when Devon nodded. “That’s awesome, I’ve been praying for someone closer to my age ever since they told me Sophia had gotten the boot. Though to be fair, I’d have settled for anyone who wasn’t Sophia.”
Devon fought hard to resist the vindictive urge to snort, recalling the way that the previous receptionist had almost made him leave before he had even signed up. If his circumstances had been different, he definitely wouldn’t have stuck around long enough to get a contract.
“I think I met her.”
Tara’s eyes widened before narrowing. “And you didn’t run screaming into the night? If that’s not proof that you’ll fit in here, I don’t know what is.”
“I haven’t even done an interview yet,” Devon pointed out, but Tara waved him off.
“If you weren’t asked to do one when they offered you the job, then I doubt they’ll make you sit through one now. That’s how I got in. I was sort of floundering, didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. This place was my last resort,” she said and suddenly Devon understood the soft look she’d given him on the way to Mr McAllister’s office.
About the Author:
D.B. McKenzie is a 30 year old university undergraduate of Jamaican descent and has been writing for over twenty years. Her main interests in writing are geared towards horror and fantasy, heavily influenced by the works of Neil Gaiman, Frank Herbert and Dean Koontz.
Her short horror piece Still Waters has been published by Black Hare Press in the anthology OCEANS.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out this phenomenal book!