Fiction based on actual events always intrigues me, so I was drawn to All The Blood We Share by Camilla Bruce based on the real Bloody Benders, a family of serial killers in the old West. This twisted tale pulled me in. Grab a cup of cocoa and snuggle in. You won’t want to set it down once you begin…
by Camilla Bruce
Genres: Historical Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
A sinister novel based on the real Bloody Benders, a family of serial killers in the old West bound by butchery and obscured by the shadows of American history.
The winds shift nervously on the Kansas plain whispering of travelers lost and buried, whispering of witches. Something dark and twisted has taken root at the Bender Inn.
At first the townspeople of Cherryvale welcome the rising medium Kate Bender and her family. Kate's messages from the Beyond give their tedious dreams hope and her mother's potions cure their little ills—for a price. No one knows about their other business, the shortcut to a better life. And why shouldn’t their family prosper? They’re careful. It’s only from those who are marked, those who travel alone and can easily disappear, that the Benders demand their pound of flesh.
But even a gifted seer like Kate can make a misstep. Now as the secrets festering beneath the soil of the family orchard threaten to bring them all to ruin, the Benders must sharpen their craft—or vanish themselves.
Anyone else fascinated by serial killers? The Benders were a family of serial killers. They lived in Labette County, Kansas, from May 1871 to December 1872. John Bender, his wife Elvira, their son John Jr. and daughter Kate. It is believed they killed over eleven people, including one child.
I listened to the author’s previous novel, In The Garden Of Spite and was excited to try her latest offering.
Bruce did a wonderful job of introducing us to the Benders. John and John Jr. arrived in Kansas first, then Elvira and Kate arrived by coach. They set up a homestead near the road at the end of town where they took in travelers offering meals and space by the fire to sleep for the night. Elvira sold herbal remedies and Kate claimed to be a spiritualist
We get their history as we get to know them and are given Kate’s perspective along with that of a neighbor. It makes you wonder how well you know your neighbor. The story was atmospheric and kept me enthralled.
The Bender family was twisted from Kate’s upbringing to John Jr.’s infatuation with Kate. Kate’s stepfather John believes Kate hears angels telling her who to kill to benefit the family’s coiffures. The relationship between Kate and her mother was odd and caused friction.
The tale was twisted and kept me on the edge as I waited for them to crack or be discovered. The author skillfully captured the period and the dangers, all while showcasing this dysfunctional family and its twisted family business. Not much is known about the Benders, but Bruce did a splendid job of imagining their darkness and the crimes that occurred. It was well researched and hit upon what we know of them while offering a dark and macabre tale.
Fans of stories based on serial killers will want to add this one to their bookshelf. I felt the author did a good job of keeping us slightly detached as she conjured up the murderous acts and depravity of this family.
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Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature)
This is one I was really interested in, and it sounds like I’ll have to get my hands on it! I mean having it based on a true story and in Kansas, the state right next door to where I live, that is really intriguing! Great review!
Yep, I love books based on actual events/history. It had me looking into them more.
I know a bit about the Benders and they are one messed up family! I’m glad to see that the author keeps the reader a bit detached. I’m not sure I could read it if it was too up close and personal! I will have to give this one a try when I’m in the mood for a creepy murderous book.
It was well done. Thanks Katherine.
Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys
Thanks for the review – it sounds like something I’d like so I’ll add it to my TBR.
Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys
Thank you Terrie. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you read it.
I do like books that help me to understand how serial killers work. This looks interesting, Kimberly.
Not sure we will ever truly understand, but it is fascinating.
Anne - Books of My Heart
I might like this one but really I want the nonfiction version I think. That can be my problem with historical fiction. Of course, sometimes all the true details aren’t known.
I like reading both the nonfiction accounts and the fictional.
This sounds really interesting, Kim. I agree fiction based on real characters is very eye opening and this is a family I had never heard of. Great review.
Thanks Carla. You can google them. You’ll find some interesting stuff. I went down the rabbit hole myself…lol
Sounds creepy, just the way I like it. 😊