Book Review: ALL THESE BODIES by Kendare Blake

Title in red on white
Genre: Thriller with paranormal aspects
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone


Book cover for ALL THESE BODIES: title in red on a girl in a black dress

Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation.

Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere.

September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.

Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to.

As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Categorising this book is hard. It’s not a typical thriller or mystery, because the book doesn’t give you an answer about what happened. It’s not a horror, because it’s more about getting the tale and justice (or injustice). Nor is it a paranormal, because the vampiric element is never truly confirmed.

I think the lack of confirmation on many elements will disappoint some readers, but I really liked it. The vampire or not, particularly how little it conformed to “usual” vampire trope, simply heightened the unease and atmosphere, not to mention the thriller-like aspects of not knowing how much of her words could be counted as true. She never uses vampire, and a lot of that side of the story is inferred and speculated about by Michael, which helps with the uncertainty.

The lack of an answer about who really did the killings, why, and how, felt like a great metaphor for the lack of justice in the case. It also highlights how cruel and sexist media is towards women, always trying to take it back to sex and making it women’s fault when they are hurt. But the men? Oh, they can do 10x worse and be portrayed sympathetically.

This book shows an investigator who has his theories of who she is, and is determined to prove it. Pilson (the investigator) is a horrible character, so cruel to Marie (who is a 15 year old girl), bullying her and painting her in the worst light possible. When child sexual abuse is implies in Marie’s past, he chooses to frame it (particularly when talking to her) as her deliberately seducing a man who was supposed to be caring for her.

The inclusion of Pilson and his awfulness is a really good narrative ploy, because you instinctively hate him for being a misogynistic pig with a closed mind. It means you are more likely to believe the paranormal aspects of Marie’s story.

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