What struck me immediately about “By Blood” was the excellent writing. The elegance of each sentence evoked a classic style reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tell Tall Heart” as the words were placed in a rhythmic order, that lulled me into the story. I found the protagonist an odd, but interesting character. When he learns that he can hear the therapist and her patients in the office next to his, he embarks on a journey of voyeurism that was comical and sinister at the same time. I laughed at his quirky observations, such as, “On the following Wednesday, therefore, I arose early and took special care to dress in comfortable, loose-fitting clothes (the better to sit absolutely still during any inadvertently titillation).” In this respect, “By Blood” began exactly as I expected. However, the plot effortlessly evolved into something much more than I anticipated.
I was amazed at how well the author changed the patient’s sessions from discussing a lesbian struggling with her relationship, to a woman longing to have a better relationship with her parents, to the discovery of dark secrets about both the patient’s family through the final days of WWII and the therapist’s own connection with the holocaust. I had not given too much thought to how people moved forward with their lives at the end of WWII prior to this novel, which for me allowed that portion of the plot to advance a new perspective on an already much discussed topic. The element of voyeurism made the patient’s story much more intriguing. As her story unfolded, I got the sense that I too, was listening to her through the wall! The anonymity of her brought a unique perspective to the story and made me feel the same sense of forbidden excitement that the tenant felt as he listened in. The subplot involving the main character hinted that he was a serial killer on the loose, which implanted a heightened sense of fear into the voyeurism that somehow worked very well for the story. This is a hard book to describe due to the complex nature of the plot and characters, but it had a realistic quality that was absolutely captivating.
One of my favorite novels so far this year, someone looking for a creative and new plot would also enjoy this. The complexity of the story and the emotional layers that built with each chapter make this an excellent book for someone with an intellectual mind. I highly recommend this!