Review: Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publication Date: September 12, 2011
Harcourt Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Goodreads Summary

Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother.
Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? As Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear her family apart.
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MY TAKE: 4/5 STARS
This book was such a disturbing read. It starts off with a picture of seemingly perfect nuclear family – each one supportive of each other. At one point, you couldn’t really foresee anything will go wrong to destroy Willa’s somewhat unusual family set up. She lives with her mother, her stepfather Jack, and his two daughters from another marriage. Everyone gets along – but like all other families, resentments and bitterness bubble close to the surface.


One blow was all it took for this house of cards to come tumbling down.

Right off the bat, we learned about Willa’s secret. What she does to escape the pressure of always wanting and never having. That secret alone was disturbing. I try to stay away from stories involving cutting but I was glad that in this book, it wasn’t really the main focus. It was about Willa’s biological father’s murdering spree. He killed his entire family – his wife and his three children. The murders were gory, violent and hard to comprehend. This was the catalyst for Willa’s awakening, to find out who she was and to stop ignoring the potent blood that gurgles through her veins.

I have read Life As We Know It by this author and I’ve enjoyed it as much as a book about an Armageddon scenario could be enjoyed. So I wasn’t really surprised when I felt the same way about this after reading. Ms. Pfeffer has a way with words – dark and gloom seem to be her area of expertise.

Honestly, it took a lot to convince myself that Willa will not end up like her father. The author did a good job of planting that seed in my head. That because Willa likes to cut herself, she’ll somehow ended up like her father, one who has a penchant for blood and knives. I kept waiting for her to finally snap, and really who could blame her? I would’ve if I’d been in her shoes. Living with her stepsisters alone should’ve been cause enough to kill them in their sleeps, but hey, that’s just me. They’re really not that bad, if a little spoiled and privileged. They have their moments of decency. I can’t really fault them for having lived their advantageous lives.

I love Willa’s relationship with her stepbrother, Trace – brief, sad but tender just the same.

My heart was beating out of my chest when Willa was imagining how her father’s family met their demise. All the blood, all the violence and the disturbing way he cradled the youngest’ severed head in his arms. It was truly a scene out of a psycho thriller flick.

Blood Wounds had me from page one. Its disturbing and visceral writing make for a terrifying and realistic read. If a change of pace is what you want, I suggest trying this one on for size. Definitely not to be missed.