Staff Review: The Ravenous
To outsiders, the Cane girls are a lovely group of five sisters. Transferring from base to base, following their itinerant father, who is often gone, the girls stick together no matter what. So what if their home life is chaotic and dysfunctional. As long as everything looks ok, it will be. Juliet is the oldest, a pianist who gave up a Julliard Scholarship so she could remain at home leads the pack, with her temper and self determination, not to mention love and adoration for Rose, the youngest. Then there is Taylor, Anya and Mona. Told from the perspective of Mona, this novel is a horror story disguised as realistic tale of dysfunctional family drama. When Juliet confronts their pill-addled and alcoholic mother on Rose's birthday, Rose gets in the way and ends up tumbling down the basement stairs and dying. Realizing what has happened, their mom takes the body and disappears, only to return with a living Rose. There are only two complicating factors: Rose has a large black bruise showing where her neck was broken and she can't eat. A few days later, Mom cooks a stew for Rose from a package of mysterious meat and Rose feels instantly better. But Rose isn't better at all. Mom takes off to find out where she messed up with "the ritual" and leaves the girls alone with Rose. It's not long before Rose is hungry again and Juliet has a plan.
Writing a novel that clearly distinguishes between each sister is a hard task and Lukavics almost manages to make each sister memorable in her own way. Juliet is an angry tough girl who will do whatever it takes to keep Rose alive. Taylor is Juliet's shadow, right down to wearing Juliet's old clothes. Anya and Mona used to be closer, passing themselves off as twins, until Anya discovered weed and a new girlfriend. Mona is a secret drinker with deep fears of being just like her mom, and Rose is the baby, loved and cherished by all. For me Taylor was the one sister who didn't seem to get the character development that the other sisters did. I had to look back at the end of the book to see what happened to her, because I couldn't remember. But in all, that's really a small quibble. As a horror novel, albeit one light on the blood and gore, this novel did a great job of setting up the story and posing probable problems for her characters to solve. What do you do when your sister, who has been brought back to life by your mom, starts to complain about how hungry she is? How do you as an older sister manipulate your younger siblings into helping you solve this problem? As a younger sibling faced with the horror of realizing your baby sister isn't herself any more, how do you respond to your other sisters? As a mix of a complex family drama and horror, this book pushes all the right buttons.