Review by John W. Leys
By the end of the first page Kindra Austin’s The Killing Holiday will have you hooked, unable to put it down until the whole story unravels itself before your eyes. Like an epic poet of old, Austin plunges in media res straight to the heart of the tale, showing—albeit enticingly vaguely—where we are heading. Her prose is the prose of a skilled poet, painting vivid pictures with her words, while still leaving spaces for the reader to fill in with their own imagination and experiences. You will taste the menthol cigarettes, feel the passion, taste the saltwater tears.
The opening scene starts seemingly calmly as we’re introduced to one of our main characters, who for the moment is nameless. Around the third paragraph there is a twist that will grab you by the shirt collar and demand you listen as the narrative continues in non-linear fashion, rewinding bit by bit, revealing seductive clue after clue, until enough questions have been raised that there is no choice but to continue. From here there we’re taken back to the beginning, as Austin reveals with a deft hand how our cast of characters ended up in the positions we found them, and why. I don’t wish to give away any of the surprises that lay ahead, but suffice it to say that you’ll be presented with a fresh yet familiar tale of love, lust, and death. In lesser hands this tale could easily have drifted into saccharine cliches and overwrought drama, but Austin is a master of her craft and never disappoints. Her characters are multifaceted gems in which we can see fractured reflections of our souls and those we’ve known, loved, and hated in our own lives, often illustrating how “love” and “hate” are not mutually exclusive feelings. My favorite pieces of narrative are the emails, letters, and text messages from one character to another, a hybrid form of an epistolatory novel, which place us inside of the story, feeling like we’re sitting next to Mara, Lucas, Rowena, and the rest as they pour themselves out via their keyboards.
If I had one complaint about The Killing Holiday it would be that there isn’t enough of it. Not because the story is incomplete or lacking, but because I wanted to live inside these characters and in their world for longer. I came away from this book wanting more.
The bottom line is that The Killing Holiday is a must read masterfully told tale by a novelist with the soul of a poet, who leaves us wondering how much of herself was left in the ink on the page.
The Killing Holiday is available now on Amazon.com