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#TuesdayBookBlog Human Flesh by Nick Clausen (@NickClausen9) A scary novella that asks us some uncomfortable questions #RBRT

Hi all:

Today I bring you a short but scary read, from Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Human Flesh by Nick Clausen
Human Fish by Nick Clausen

Human Flesh by Nick Clausen

THEY NEVER CAUGHT IT …

During the winter of 2017, a series of strange occurrences took place in a small town of northern Maine. A rational explanation for what happened has still not been presented. Now, for the first time, all available evidence is being released to the public from what is commonly known as the Freyston case.

Human Flesh was originally published in Danish to great reviews, and is now available in English. This dark winter horror story will also satisfy crime lovers, as the plot is told through written evidence in a fictitious murder case. For fans of Hannibal Lecter, and those who enjoyed the mood of Pet Sematary and the style of Carrie.

REVIEWS

“Great, mysterious and creepy … I couldn’t put it down”

★★★★★ Adventures of a Book Nerd

“All the planning it must have taken to put the story together is impressive. And the effect is enormous. It gave me chills and I still feel it”

★★★★★ Bookish Love Affair

Author Nick Clausen
Author Nick Clausen

About the author:

Began writing at the age of 18 with a promise of doing 1,000 words a day until he got a book published. Kept that promise 18 months and 13 manuscripts later. Done almost 30 books since then. Lived as a full-time writer since 2017. Began translating his books into English in 2019. Prefer horror, fantasy and sci-fi. Reside in Denmark. Is inspired by the stories of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Thomas Harris.

https://www.amazon.com/Nick-Clausen/e/B07NC5X94M/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I am a fan of horror, had read great reviews of one of Clausen’s collections of short stories, and I liked the sound of this one (and the cover is pretty impressive as well).

This is a short horror novella that works at many levels. Its topic is fairly well known (especially to lovers of the genre, and as a psychiatrist I’m also aware of its diagnostic implications, although I won’t elaborate on that), but despite its short length, the author manages to capture the atmosphere of the story, the cold, the darkness, the weirdness and the horror (more psychological than graphic, although it has its moments) in the few pages available, using also a pretty interesting way of telling the story. As mentioned in the description, rather than a standard narration, we have what appears to be a compilation of documents pertaining to a mysterious case, and this will appeal as well to lovers of crime stories and police procedural novels (although if they are sticklers for details, they might be bothered by the supernatural aspects and by some bits and pieces of information that don’t seem to quite fit in, but…). This peculiar way of narrating the story forces readers to do some of the work and fill in the blanks, and that is always a good strategy when it comes to horror (our imagination can come up with pretty scary things, as we all know). It also gives readers a variety of perspectives and some background that would have been trickier to include in a story of this length otherwise. Does it make it more difficult to identify with any of the characters? I didn’t find that to be the case. The story (or the evidence) starts mildly enough. An accident means that a family cannot go skiing as usual for their winter holidays, and the father decides to send his two children (and older girl, Otha, and a younger boy, Hugh) to stay with their grandfather, Fred, in Maine.  Things start getting weird from the beginning, and Otha (who has a successful blog, and whose entries create the backbone of the story, making her the main narrator and the most sympathetic and easier to identify with for readers) is not the only one who worries about her grandfather, as some of the neighbours have also been wondering about the old man’s behaviour. The secret behind their grandmother’s death becomes an important part of the story and there are eerie moments aplenty to come.

The novella manages to combine well not only some legends and traditional Native-American stories with more modern concepts like PTSD, survivor’s guilt, but also the underlying current of grief that has come to dominate the life of the children’s grandfather. It also emphasises how much we have come to rely on technology and creature comforts that give us a false sense of security and cannot protect us again extreme natural conditions and disasters. Because of the age of the main protagonist, there is also a YA feel to the story with elements of the coming-of-age genre —even a possible love interest— and I’ve seen it listed under such category, but those aspects don’t overwhelm the rest of the story, and I don’t think they would reduce the enjoyment of readers who usually avoid that genre.

Is it scary? Well, that is always a personal call. As I said, there are some chilling scenes, but the novella is not too graphic (it relies heavily on what the characters might or might not have seen or heard, and also on our own capacity for autosuggestion and suspension of disbelief). There is something about the topic, which combines a strong moral taboo with plenty of true stories going back hundreds of years, which makes it a very likely scenario and something anybody reading it cannot help what reflect upon. We might all reassure ourselves that we wouldn’t do something like that, no matter how dire the conditions, but how confident are we? For me, that is the scariest part of the story.

In sum, this is a well-written and fairly scary story, with the emphasis on atmosphere and psychological horror rather than on blood and gore (but there is some, I’m warning you), successfully combined with an interesting way of narrating a familiar story. As a straight mystery not all details tie in perfectly, but it’s a good introduction to a new voice (in English) in the horror genre. I’m sure it won’t be the last of Clausen’s stories I’ll read.

 Thanks to Rosie and the members of her team, thanks to the author, and, most of all, thanks to all of you for reading, liking, sharing, commenting, and remember to keep reviewing and smiling!

 

 

 

 

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE LAST FEAST by Zeb Haradon Unusual science-fiction which makes us question what it means to be human #RBRT #SciFi

Hi all:

Today I bring you another author I discovered through Rosie’s Book Review Team and the recommendation of one of the group reviewers and great writer, Terry Tyler (yes, the Terry Tyler whose Renova Series I’ve reviewed here). Believe me, this one is not same old, same old.

Book review. The Last Feast by Zeb Haradon
The Last Feast by Zeb Haradon

The Last Feast by Zeb Haradon

Jim, the only human still alive in the universe, lives his life on a small escape pod orbiting a black hole, where he survives by replicating himself and eating his clones. Before eating one of his duplicates, he entertains his meal by recounting the story of how he got here and how he managed to survive.

It began when he had decided to travel to an interstellar colony where he could sell some museum pieces he owned. En route, the ship he is on gets momentarily caught in the powerful gravity of a black hole and is flung trillions and trillions of years into the future. The passengers find themselves in a time of maximum entropy, where all life is extinct, all the stars have burned out, and there is nothing left in the universe except a black hole and a complete vacuum extending in all directions.

As the original crew of seven is slowly reduced through suicide, murder, and accident, two factions form. One group believes, against all evidence, that somehow, somewhere, there exists intelligent life in this universe that can rescue them from this hell, and they devote their energies to sending out more and more powerful distress calls. The other group simply wants to preserve the ship’s power, so that they can live comfortably in this hopeless universe as long as possible.

https://www.amazon.com/Last-Feast-Zeb-Haradon-ebook/dp/B07DY2WB8S/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Feast-Zeb-Haradon-ebook/dp/B07DY2WB8S/

https://www.amazon.es/Last-Feast-Zeb-Haradon-ebook/dp/B07DY2WB8S/

Author Zeb Haradon
Author Zeb Haradon

About the author:

Zeb Haradon grew up in Corning, NY, studied cognitive science at SUNY Buffalo, lived in Utah from 1999-2004, and has lived in Seattle since 2004. He’s a parent to identical twins.

He’s made two movies (one fictional and one documentary) and written three books.

https://www.amazon.com/Zeb-Haradon/e/B07DYZG87B/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank Rosie Amber (check here if you would like to have your book reviewed) and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel, that I freely chose to review.

I had read a number of reviews of this author’s previous novel, The Usurper King, and although I haven’t read it yet I was intrigued by the subject and the feedback on the quality of his writing, and following a recommendation of his new book by a fellow reviewer, I could not resist.

This book is difficult to categorise and, for me, that is one of its appeals, although it will perhaps put off some genre readers. I won’t rehash the plot as the description is detailed enough and the book is quite short (it is perhaps a bit long for a novella, but it is shorter than most novels). The setting and much of the action would fit into the science-fiction genre. The degree of detail and description of technology and processes is not such that it should put off casual readers (I found the scientific background intriguing although I’m not an expert and cannot comment on how accurate it is), although it might not satisfy hard science-fiction fans.

A number of characters appear in the short novel, but the main character and first-person narrator of the story is Jim. Like Scheherazade, he is doomed to be forever telling stories, although, in his case, it is always the same story, the story, or history, of his (their) origin. Somehow (I won’t go into the details. I’ll leave that for readers to discover), Jim has managed to cheat death and has lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. Although the story he is forever retelling is, at least in appearance, the story of how he ended up in his current situation, through the process of telling the story, we learn about Jim himself. Snippets of his life keep coming up, and these are enmeshed with the history of humanity at large, as he has become, accidentally, the somewhat reluctant chronicler of human civilisation. I am not sure any of the characters are sympathetic but that is not surprising given the circumstances, and it does not hinder the enjoyment of the story.

The story —which gets at some of the fundamental questions Philosophy has been studying for centuries— involves a small spaceship crew faced with an impossible situation. What if they were the only beings left alive in the universe and only had access to finite resources in order to survive? (Yes, this sounds familiar). Would they hold on tight to the hope of a possible rescue from outside and risk their survival possibilities to pursue that dream? Or would they try to survive at whatever cost? The book divides the crew into two, the ones who are more realistic and are happy to continue living on their current circumstances, and the ones that refuse to give up the hope for a better but uncertain life. There are members of the crew that seem to cycle from one position to another, and some who keep their cards close to their chests and we don’t know full well what they think. Suicide is high in the book, and the desperation of the characters that choose that way out is credible and easy to understand and empathise with. The narrative takes the characters to the limit and then pushes them beyond it. Ultimately, it is impossible not to read this book and wonder what makes life worth living. Is life itself enough in its own right? Is survival against all odds the best attitude? What is the result of, and the price to pay for, pursuing such a course of action?

I am fascinated by the novel, and particularly by Jim’s character. As he tells the story, it becomes clear that at some point he made a momentous decision. He says he has been on the brink of suicide for hundreds of years, but after something tragic happened (no spoilers), he decided he would keep on living. Although the book has plenty of strange goings on (cannibalism, BDSM sex… which make for a hard read but are not the most graphically detailed and gore examples I have read, by any means) and it shuns conventional morality, this decision and Jim’s motivation behind it are what will keep this book present in my mind, and I know I will be thinking about it for a long time. (Why would anybody put himself or herself through such a thing? How do we deal with loss and grief?)

There are references to literary classics (and the author’s note at the end mentions some of them and also the conception of the project, its development, and its different incarnations), to historical artefacts and works of art, and the distinctive voice of the narrator (a mixture of wit, matter-of-factness and the odd flash of dark humour), the quality of the writing, and the story combine to make it a compelling and disquieting read. After reading this book, I’ve become very intrigued by the author, and I’m curious about his previous novel, as the protagonist of that book was also called Jim. That Jim was quickly becoming old and this one is determined to live forever. I wonder…

I recommend this book to people looking for an exceptional voice and a unique story, who don’t mind being challenged by difficult topics, dark subjects, and stories that don’t fit neatly into a clear genre. If you like to experiment and are looking for something different, I encourage you to give it a go.

Thanks to the author, Rosie, and Terry, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and to keep smiling! 

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Book reviews Rosie's Book Team Review

#Bookreview #RBRT Flesh by Dylan J. Morgan (@dylanjmorgan) Horror, twists and turns and a small-town legend that’s anything but… #Tuesdaybookblog

Hi all:

I already told you last week I was reading a lot these days, and today I bring you another review, this one of a book I read as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. It’s a great privilege to form part of such wonderful team of people. And today, I bring you a scary one…

Flesh by Dylan J. Morgan
Flesh by Dylan J. Morgan

First, the description:

It feeds. It grows. The small town of Vacant harbors a secret so terrifying that the local lawmen will do anything to keep it hidden—including murder. Something sinister stalks the surrounding woods, a horrifying creature thought to be only a mystical legend. It hunts at night, killing with ravenous voracity. Deputies Carson Manning and Kyle Brady are the harvesters: they find the victims, tie them to the baiting post. Sheriff Andrew Keller and Deputy Matthew Nielsen are the cleaners: they dispose of the corpses. But when Vacant’s townsfolk take matters into their own hands, nothing can contain the slaughter. The deadly entity isn’t the only menace Sheriff Keller has to face. He has his own dark secret, a past he tries to hide behind frequent alcohol binges. Now that past has come back to haunt him and will throw him headlong into a traumatic situation that could mean life or death for him and those he holds dear.

And now, my review:

Flesh by Dylan J. Morgan  Horror, twists and turns and a small-town legend that’s anything but…

I am reviewing Flesh as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I’ve received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review.

I love horror. Books, movies, series… I’d read very good reviews of Dylan J. Morgan’s books and when I saw one of his books come up for review at Rosie’s team I decided to take the chance and read it.

You probably have read (and/or watched, if you’re interested in the genre) similar stories. Small town, something in the woods is killing people. The something might vary from book to book. Here the small town is not the wholesome small-town of cosy diners and picket fences, but rather the strange world of Blue Velvet (well, perhaps weird in a different way, a corrupt place full of drug-addicts, alcoholics, mad preachers, power-crazy mayors, and people prepared to do anything to keep themselves safe, even if it means others have to suffer). And the story is written in such a way that we don’t really know what we think we know, or rather, we don’t realise what we know until very close to the end. At least for me, the novel was full of surprises.

The novel is told in the third person, from quite a few of the characters’ points of view, the main characters. None of them, with the exception of Miranda, but she hardly appears in the first part of the book, are easy to connect with or sympathetic. The book opens with one of the character’s (although we are not told many things about her) extreme violence and a description of butchery that, being a doctor, I must confess had me wondering if some of the things were anatomically possible… As we see things from the character’s mind’s eye, the reading can be quite uncomfortable. On the other hand, at least for me, it didn’t work at the level of some scenes of extreme violence in Tarantino’s movies, for instance, when you might find yourself joining in and siding with the perpetrator. But perhaps that’s a matter of personal taste. The rest of the main characters are deeply flawed, addicted to alcohol, drugs, and egotistical. Matthew, newly joined deputy sheriff seems too good to be true, other than for his sexual relationship with a woman that also seems to break the rules (sex during work at the police station for instance), but until more than fifty per cent of the book has gone we don’t have much of a hero to root for. And then, things change. And how. (Also some new characters appear that add to the interest, but the biggest surprise is how the ones we knew already change.  Or we realise we didn’t know them quite as well as we thought.)

I’m not overtly fond of descriptions and the book is full of them, be how the characters are feeling (hangover, highs of drugs, sex, hot and sweaty…), clothes, food, drinks… Although well-written, I felt due to this the first half of the novel moves at a slow-steady pace, whilst the last half speeds up.

As you’ve probably noticed from what I’ve said, I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the book, where you feel much more invested and engaged with the characters and things get much more personal, not only for us but for some of the protagonists. It is a good way of rising expectations and interest, although there is always the risk that some readers might not follow the writer, but in this case it’s well-worth the patience. I won’t go into a lot of detail not to spoil the reading experience, but as I mentioned, it took me quite a while to work out the connections and the ins and outs of the plot. It’s very cleverly done.

Overall, would I recommend this book? Yes, if you love horror, and you like descriptive writing, both of horrific scenes and in general (there’s also a fairly explicit sex scene, be warned), and want to be taken by surprise (even shocked). And, a word of warning, whatever you think of the beginning, keep reading, because the second half of the book is fantastic.

Link:

http://amzn.to/1N67DLB

If you want to check directly the preview, here it is:

Thanks so much to Rosie and to the author for this opportunity, thanks to you all for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment, CLICK, and of course, to REVIEW!

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