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review 2019-10-19 21:05
A quick read, full of frights, tension, and touches of dark humour
Dead Meat : Day 1 - Nick Clausen

I received an ARC copy of the story from the author which I freely chose to review.

I have recently read a novella from the same author that I enjoyed, and when he contacted me and offered me a copy of the first part of his new zombie series (new in English, although already published and successful in Danish) I had to say yes. Despite being a horror fan, I haven’t read many zombie books but, like many of us, I’ve watched enough living-dead movies and series to be familiar with the genre.

In this brief narrative (the first in the series, as the title indicates), we are plunged into the action (or rather, the tense waiting) from the very beginning. The author does a great job of making us feel the heat, the anxiety, and the claustrophobia of the basement where the three youths have taken refuge and the fear and uncertainty of the characters, whom we don’t know yet but will soon get to grips with. We have Thomas, his girlfriend Jenny, and Dan, Jenny’s younger brother. What had started as a standard newspaper run, ends up getting them into real trouble.

The action, narrated in the third person from different characters’ point of view (not alternating, so there’s no risk of getting confused. I don’t want to discuss this in detail to avoid spoilers, but we all know mortality is high in zombie stories) is pretty relentless. There are brief intervals when the characters are waiting and trying to decide what to do, but this is, perhaps, more scary and anxiety-provoking than the actual direct confrontations.

The explanation behind the zombies’ existence is believable within the constraints of the genre; there is plenty of gore (despite the young protagonists, I wouldn’t recommend this story to people who are squeamish); due to the use of alternating points of view, we get to experience the story as if we were there, and I kept wondering where and when the next zombie would turn up (and trying to come up with a workable solution to their predicament). There were a few moments when things seemed to be about to get sorted, but weren’t, and also hair-raising scenes aplenty. Oh, and there is some slapstick and dark humour as well (although it might depend on what you find funny).

As for the characters, although we don’t know too many details about them, due to the extreme situation they find themselves in, to their normalcy (from the bits of information we learn they are not extraordinary in any way, and it’s easy to imagine we might have reacted in similar ways if we were in that situation) and to the way the story is told, where we hardly get any break, it’s impossible not to empathise and root for them to survive. Of course, this is only the first book in the series, and we’ll have a chance to learn more about the characters in the next books. Although… well, this is a genre book.

As you can imagine, there is no definite conclusion or closure to the story. Although things change and it looks at some point as if everything might work out all right (at a heavy price, of course), well, there is no happy ending, and I suspect most of you will spot what is the missing element and why this is only day 1.

I enjoyed this short read, which provides thrills and scares aplenty, captures the claustrophobic atmosphere and the anxiety of the situation, and makes good use of all the tropes of the genre. I look forward to learning more about the characters and also seeing what happens next.

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review 2019-09-27 00:34
Dead Meat: Day 1 (Dead Meat #1)
Dead Meat : Day 1 - Nick Clausen

Dead Meat: Day 1 (Dead Meat #1)

Kindle Edition, 1st, 140 pages

Expected publication: October 8th 2019

 

Goodreads summary:

 

The end of the world one day at a time.
In this new apocalyptic zombie series from the author of They Come at Night and Human Flesh, we follow events day by day as the world slowly but surely descends into mayhem as the zombies take over. Don't miss the thrilling ride! For fans of The Walking Dead, The Orphans Book and World War Z. How it all began Three teenagers find themselves trapped in a stuffy, warm basement. The old lady who used to own the house is now dead. She's also standing right on the other side of the basement door, scraping and moaning, trying to get in. Patiently. Tirelessly. How did they end up here? Just a few hours ago, all three of them were sitting in Thomas' car, sweating and listening to music, not a care in the world. They were almost done with the paper route when they came to the old lady's house. And that's when everything turned to chaos.

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

***I was provided with a free copy by the author in exchange for a review.

 

Dead Meat: Day 1 is the first book in the Zombie apocalypse.

The Following takes place on Saturday, July 26 somewhere in Denmark.
When Thomas, Dan and his sister Jennie arrive at the end of their paper route, the furthest thing on their minds was being eaten by zombies. The weather was hot that day and they were all thirsty but are themselves trapped in a basement hiding from a family of Zombies inside the old dilapidated farmhouse. I don't think they were very brave or smart enough to know how to kill zombies because they were scared. Jennie thought she scraped herself on some glass but she was scratched by the zombie's long nails. They knew she was infected when they realized her symptoms were getting worse. She had a burning fever and it was inevitable she would die and turn. It didn't take long either.

Thomas and Dan had been planning their escape when Jennie reanimated into a zombie. They never killed her only kept her a safe distance from attacking them.

For Thomas and Dan, it was an ordeal to finally be out of that house. Evidently only 3 zombies were inside: the father, the grandma and a child. Yet Thomas managed to free himself. He also had to rescue Dan. They also realized someone alive was hiding in a car but she didn't have the car keys. She told Thomas they were in her husband's pant pocket. *facepalm*

Thomas and Dan locked themselves inside their car and drank a whole case of warm pop. The car wouldn't start and wouldn't you know it. Only then Thomas remembered the glass that he cut his foot on had zombie blood on it. So now he was also infected and burning with fever. Before he died he desperately wanted Dan and the lady of the other car to get out and get help. There were two zombies smashed against the car so Thomas got the key out of the husbands pocket and killed them before he passed out.

The lady of the car and Dan got away and made it to the hospital only to find out Dan had stuck Thomas's body in the trunk. Ugh. Why?

Realizing it was a bad idea to have taken Thomas' body to the hospital, Dan could have caused a zombie outbreak. So, they high tail it out of there and come to an abandoned area where they could set the damn body and the car on fire. Now that all of the zombies were dead was everything back to normal again? No! Dan remembers Jennie! They never killed her and he just hoped when he got out he secured the basement window ... to be continued.

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review 2019-09-11 12:05
A scary novella that asks us some uncomfortable questions
Human Flesh - Nick Clausen

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, 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.

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review 2011-04-09 00:00
De sorte symboler - Nick Clausen (The Black Symbols)Jennie and her younger brother Magnus are sent on vacation to their grandmother in Jutland. Unfortunately it turns out that she really doesn't want their company. She's allergic to Jennie's cat, refuses to enter their room -- which just happened to be the room their grandfather died in -- plays the same tune on the violin over and over and over again, and spends most of the night muttering in the basement instead of actually sleeping in her bed. Magnus is soon convinced that she's a witch, and when Jennie one day catches her ritually sacrificing a mouse and discovers weird symbols over her bed that makes her forget things, she's not entirely sure she doesn't agree.I'm not usually a big fan of the whole horror genre, but I tend to make an exception with Nick Clausen, and thankfully his newest book completely lived up to my expectations. In style it most of all reminded me of the Witch Saga by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, which is definitely not a bad thing! I used to love those books when I was younger!I got a small giggle out of the reference to one of his other books - I always enjoy when authors use inside jokes like that in a manner discreet enough that people not in the know don't even realize that they're missing out on something.Like his other books, "De sorte symboler" has a somewhat open ending, although fortunately not quite as open as I at one point feared. As it was, it seemed much more in line with the atmosphere he attempted (successfully) to create.
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review 2010-02-13 00:00
Ulm - Nick Clausen 12-year-old Peter has just moved from the city to the village Ulm together with his mother and older brother. The older brother has a hard time getting used to their new life, and misses their father dreadfully, but Peter quickly settles down and makes friends with his class-mate Amalie.But there's something strange about the village... whenever he's out after dark, it feels as if someone - or something - is after him. A creature that growls at him, and that has large, glowing eyes. Peter's starting to think that it resembles a wolf more than anything else, except that it's far too big... and there's no such thing as werewolves, right?An exciting new ya thriller by this Danish author. I've been very pleasantly surprised by his books so far, and while I was a bit disappointed by the ending (or non-ending rather, which is what bothered me. But he's in good company - I've discovered that Stephen King is likely to do the same), the book in general was a great read and will probably be even more popular among his targeted audience than his debut.
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