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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 2018-04-12 19:06
Wendigo Rising
Wendigo Rising - James A. Hunter

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

Still an original setting, one that makes use of less known supernatural/folklore creatures (such as Sasquatches—I don’t think I’ve seen a single vampire yet in this series, and this is refreshing). We also find again some of the previously involved characters, such as agent Ferraro, Yancy’s old Vietnam comrade Greg, and James from the Guild, along with unlikely allies in the person of, well, Bigfoot and his daughter (he’s not named Bigfoot, although Yancy keeps calling him Kong, for want of being able to remember his full name). To be fair, at times I preferred these two Sasquatches, once they got past their tendency to refuse to explain their real reasons.

Some of the action scenes were pretty interesting. There’s a curious ‘battle of the bands’ at some point, mixing music with combat, and that isn’t something I’ve often read. Other such scenes left me quirking an eyebrow, though, like the one with Cassius. I quite dig Cassius, but I’d like to know more about him, apart from the little Yancy tells us about him, and the fight scene I’m thinking about, the one at the end, was… OK, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to make of it. It was fun in a WTF way, but it jarred with the rest of the UF/supernatural-oriented action. I think a little less action in parts would’ve been good here.

This book tended to annoy me more than the previous ones when it comes to Yancy’s personality, though. I’m all OK for the grumpy, no-strings-attached guy who prefers to live in his car, but the way he acts at times is much too childish for someone with so many years of experience, and especially so many battles and betrayals behind him. I guess this is why I particularly appreciated the moment when ‘monsters’ put him back in his place regarding ‘all the people they had killed’ vs. ‘did you ever wonder if the monsters you killed had friends and families?’

Conclusion: 2.5 stars, there are good things in this series, and the end paves the way for more, since part of the threat is gone, but not fully… and things could still go terribly wrong.

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review 2017-03-19 15:52
Man & Monster (The Savage Land, #2) by Michael Jensen
Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2) - Michael Jensen

 

 

Man & Monster (The Savage Land, #2) is a blast of an historical fiction, m/m romance, horror novel!

 

Cole ("Cold-Hearted") Seavey meets up with the characters from Man & Beast (The Savage Land, #1) , out on the Ohio Frontier, circa 1799. (Namely John Chapman, (Johnny Appleseed), and Pakim, (our handsome Delaware Brave). Pakim rescues Cole after he finds him badly injured as the result of an attack. An attack from what is the question; especially after this creature begins to attack Hugh's Lick-the small settlement that is closest to John Chapman's claim.

 

Soon the reader is fully engrossed in the story of this town, its inhabitants and whatever the thing is that's hunting them. The characters are so solidly drawn, they're vivid in my mind. I was happy to see John Chapman again, (I didn't know that he was going to be in this one!) and Cole turns out to be anything but cold-hearted. He soon develops feelings for Pakim and together with John Chapman and others, they struggle to defend themselves against what Pakim believes is a Wendigo.

 

The real meat of this story was the mystery of the Wendigo. I have always had a fondness for creatures of legends of myth, and Wendigos are near the top of my list. Native American cultures are fascinating and so are the stories they told to each other. The author's research into these and into the norms and taboos of the white frontier-folk of the time really shines through and rings true.

 

With many exciting action scenes and twisty turns of the plot, Man & Monster turned out to be a lot of fun, even though it's wayyyy out of my wheelhouse. To me, it's always the story that is paramount, and in that regard, Michael Jensen delivers.

 

Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction, m/m romance, and HORROR!

 

You can get your copy here: Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2)

 

*I received a free e-copy from the author in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* **In addition, I consider this author to be an online friend. This did not affect the content of my review.**

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text 2017-01-22 23:36
Week 3 of 2017
The Curse of the Wendigo (Monstrumologist) - Rick Yancey
Who Could That Be At This Hour? - Lemony Snicket,Seth
When Did You See Her Last? - Lemony Snicket

Books Read: 3

 

 

"Who Could That Be at This Hour?": This is the first book in the All the Wrong Questions series. If you enjoyed A Series of Unfortunate Events, I highly recommend reading this. 4 stars.

 

"When Did You See Her Last?": The second book in the All the Wrong Questions series and it just keeps getting better. 4 stars

 

The Curse of the Wendigo: 4 stars

 

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review 2016-10-10 00:00
Klątwa Wendigo
Klątwa Wendigo - Rick Yancey I am going to read this for Horror Aficionados Fear Challenge for October. I was happy to read the follow-up to book #1 which already freaked me out a lot. In book #2, we focus on Doctor Warthrop's past and how the science of monstrumology is dealing with a potential take over with hunting fictional beings (according to some) like the wendigo.

Once again the story starts out with Yancey trying to find out what he can about an old man named Will Henry who died. Reading through his journals, he decides that after publishing the first three (book #1) he will read another stack and see what he can find out about him. Then the story is told from Will Henry's point of view.

Will we know is still dealing with the actions in book #1. He now has a strange new disease that ended up causing his father to take his own life. The doctor has become more absent minded and strange and is focused on the upcoming meeting of the Society to go against his former mentor's hypothesis that creatures like the wendigo, vampire, and zombies are not real. When Warthrop's former fiance comes to plead for his help in rescuing her husband (he has gone in hunt of the wendigo in Canada) he and Will Henry are off to rescue him or recover his body.

I thought the whole fight between science and myth in this one was very well done. I can see why Doctor Warthrop fought against including something like the wendigo, vampires, and other things in the list of things monstrumology looks into since based on things from book #1, there are literal things that will rip you limb from limp. However, the doctor's disbelief and just plain this is not real at all in the face of what he was seeing, was so frustrating. I wanted to shake him a lot.

We have Will Henry who will still fight besides the doctor whenever he calls who is struggling with the fact still it seems that the doctor does not really love him, except when we readers can plainly see it.

We get introduction to several new characters. I really didn't like the character of Muriel Chanler. She is described by Will as so beautiful. But she is also in a subtle way manipulative of Will and seems to want the doctor to be alone and unhappy because she went and married someone else (because of his response to her about a question that takes a really long time to come out). The character of Abram von Helrung definitely made me think of Van Hesling (Dracula) and I think that was on purpose. I did not like his creepy niece at all. I really wanted Will to smack her. Repeatedly.

The character of John Chanler, Doctor Warthrop's former best friend was a pitiable and scary person at the same time. I won't get into him much because of spoilers.

The writing in this one is just as gory as it was in book #1. Be warned, there are discussions of body remains, human flesh, and even child murder. After a while though you just wonder what else is coming your way, and it is even worse.

I thought the flow was good in this one. The initial parts I thought were a bit slow to set up. But when Doctor Warthrop and Will Henry went to Canada in search of John Chanler, things picked up and didn't let up until the end of the book.

The ending definitely leaves again the question of who is Will Henry. Is he a liar that did not experience the things he did in his journals. Either way I hope that the secret of who he was is resolved in books #3 and #4.
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