Halloween Book Review: Human Flesh by Nick Clausen

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Human Flesh is the third book by Nick Clausen I’ve reviewed this year – clearly, I enjoy his work.

Human Flesh is a narrative formed from fictitious evidence from a murder case. The suspect, Otha’s grandfather, is a man who behaves strangely whenever winter descends. This is somewhat understandable; winter reminds him of losing his wife. Yet, Otha’s grandfather adamantly refuses to admit how she died – almost as if he has something to hide.

As I’ve been reading more of Nick Clausen’s books, I’ve found I really enjoy the many ideas he has for horror stories. Human Flesh is no exception. The story is inspired by legends of the Wendigo, a cannibalistic creature or spirit which lurks in Northern America. I really enjoyed following this mysterious murder case, and I was drawn to keep reading. It’s definitely a creepy little story.

However, when I say little, I do mean little.

Human Flesh is very short. On the one hand, this could tie nicely to the fact the book is meant to be a collection of police evidence and, consequently, a small amount of evidence could reflect the mystery behind the story and how much is still unknown. On the other hand, practically speaking, when I read it, I was disappointed the story ended so soon.

I did like Clausen’s choice to present the narrative as a collection of evidence from the past though, adding some realism because it treats the Wendigo and the mysterious deaths as real crimes. Furthermore, it leaves the reader in the dark, as we have no idea who has survived the ordeal and who has not until the end of the book. However, I do have some constructive feedback about this choice of narrative style too.

Firstly, as Human Flesh largely consists of informal evidence such as blog posts and text messages, the story was also informal. As a result, I thought that in places, the story lacked detailed or literary narration and description. I partly understand this, as the bulk of the narrative is from a teenager’s perspective, which is bound to be more informal. Yet, it also felt a shame that some opportunities for fantastically scary or Gothic language and descriptions were missed.

Secondly, I’m not convinced an e-book was the best format for Human Flesh; at present, it is only available to buy as an e-book. I appreciate it can be harder to publish physical copies of a book but, in this instance, I think a physical book would have lent itself to the format. For example, the pages could have been designed and printed to look like an email browser, a police report, or a text message exchange. It would have looked like a more convincing scrapbook or folder of collected written evidence. In an e-book, however, it is very obvious that you’re not actually reading a text message, for example. I know this is a nit-picky comment to make, and I know the story itself is fictitious – but when the narrative partly relies on convincing you, the reader, of the realism of the situation, I found that this format pulled me out of the story a little.

These comments may sound a little critical, but I only mean them in a constructive way. I still genuinely enjoyed Human Flesh and, in general, I particularly like Clausen’s creative and interesting horror story ideas, even if I do wish these stories were longer!

For anyone looking for a small and succinct yet chilling read, I would recommend Human Flesh.

Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020

Book Review: Chills & Creeps Volume 2: Eight Scary Stories by Nick Clausen

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Chills & Creeps Vol 2 is the second anthology of horror and fantasy stories by Nick Clausen. I originally reviewed the first anthology for Rosie’s Book Review Team and, as I enjoyed the stories so much, I asked to read and review its sequel!

To echo the format of my previous review, I will discuss and review each story in turn.

1. Babysitter

The first story in the anthology is about Julie, a teenage girl hired as a babysitter. When she arrives at the house, she is greeted with a note informing her the children are already in bed and the parents have already gone out. However, what should be a straightforward babysitting job turns sinister when Julie hears unusual noises, and begins to suspect somebody is watching her…

I thought Babysitter was a really good – terrifying – story to open this anthology; it was a good length and it had me completely hooked throughout. The only negative I have is that the story ends on a frustrating cliffhanger, when I was so keen to find out more!* After the story ends, Clausen does then apologise for including an open-ending, which I appreciated, as I don’t particularly like them!

*If Babysitter was to be developed into a longer story (and perhaps without a cliffhanger ending), I wouldn’t be complaining…

2. The Teacher from Outer Space

As the title suggests, this story is Tommy, a young boy who suspects his teacher is an alien. However, once the teacher realises Tommy’s suspicions, there are dark consequences. All in all, this was a fun science-fiction story for children. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I can see younger readers definitely enjoying this.

3. The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow is about two children who build a scarecrow which, after being daubed with some blood as part of a childish “witchcraft experiment”, comes alive.

This story was disturbing and entertaining, though I think the descriptions of the scarecrow were lacking in detail. It was difficult to imagine its appearance – beyond its pumpkin head – and, subsequently, it was hard to empathise with the boys’ horror at the scarecrow coming to life.  I kept inadvertently imagining the scarecrow as if it was from the Doctor Who episode The Family of Blood because that was the best I could think of.

Image via BBC

4. The Well

This next horror story is about Oliver, who spends the night in a haunted well. I thought this was a decent horror story and obviously drew inspiration from Ring,  a series of horror novels written by Koji Suzuki.

5. Master of the Crabs

In my opinion, Master of the Crabs is a weird story. It is about Alex, a boy who gains control of an army of killer crabs. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this– it didn’t feel much like a mystery, horror, or a fantasy story, and the concept of “controlling crabs” didn’t engage me.

6. Under the Ice

Under the Ice is about Reggie, who is contacted by the ghostly presence of his dead sister. Reggie then suspects her death was not accidental, and notices his stepmother’s strange behaviour…

This story was ok; it’s not really a ghost story, it’s more of a murder mystery that happens to involve ghosts. I thought some parts were a little vague, but overall it was reasonable.

7. Headless

The penultimate story in this anthology is entitled Headless, a story about a boy named Jack who accidentally disturbs the resting place of a headless ghost. The ghost returns, seeking not only his head, but revenge.

I thought Headless was a really good ghost story, and I was kept entertained. I think it could have been even scarier too – in my opinion – but I still liked it.

8. Whiskers

Whiskers is the final story, and Clausen’s favourite, of the anthology.

Alvin is deeply attached to his dog, Rocky. However, Alvin’s father is sick of having a dog in the house and, one day, Rocky mysteriously vanishes.  Deeply upset, Alvin makes a deal with a witch for Rocky to return. Days go by, and yet there is no sign of Rocky. Alvin grows angrier. So angry, in fact, that he even growls sometimes. His hair grows long and unkempt, and he even begins to grow… whiskers!

I thought Whiskers was okay but, in my opinion, it wasn’t especially creepy or chilling. I wish Clausen had utilised more genre conventions from the werewolf subgenre of horror; I think this would have really enhanced the tale (no pun intended).


To conclude, Chills & Creeps Volume 2 is another enjoyable anthology. There are a lot more horror stories in this collection than fantasy or science-fiction. For me, this was ideal, as I tend to read more horror fiction than fantasy or sci-fi anyway.

Whilst some stories disappointed me in places, overall, this was still a fun collection of short stories, and I’d recommend both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Chills & Creeps.

Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020

Book Review: Owl Manor – The Dawning by Zita Harrison

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Owl Manor – The Dawning is the first in Zita Harrison’s new series of Gothic suspense novels set in 19th century America.

Owl Manor – The Dawning focuses on the protagonist, Eva, a strong-willed woman dissatisfied with her life because she is trapped in a loveless marriage and regularly downtrodden by men. 19th century society is not merely oppressive though; it is dangerous – women mysteriously vanish and are found dead in the streets. In search of financial security and safety, Eva seeks employment at Owl Manor in the Rocky Mountains, a dark place said to harbour dark secrets. However, Eva’s actions may have placed herself and her daughter in even greater danger.

The book begins with some beautifully vivid descriptions in order to set the scene, and these descriptions were a pleasure to read.

At first, I thought the characters’ sightings of owls was a just a coincidental and tenuous link to the title but, as the story developed, the supernatural and sinister reason behind the presence of owls became clear, which I liked.

I also liked the Victorian setting and style of the book, which reminded me of classic Gothic novels such as Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Whilst the dialogue was occasionally anachronistic for the 1850s, I didn’t find this to be a major problem because I enjoyed the story and the characters so much that these anachronisms didn’t “spoil” the book.

Eva is a rational and sympathetic character who is mostly well-described. However, some of her actions and thoughts didn’t seem consistent with what I’d been to lead to understand about her. For example, Eva sees and accepts ghosts and apparitions without a second glance. We are not told Eva anywhere is a particularly spiritual or superstitious person, so the fact she accepts the presence of ghosts without the slightest hesitation or disbelief seems unrealistic. Furthermore, much like Jane Eyre, Eve becomes a servant in Owl Manor, where the master takes an interest in her and demands she stay with him as his companion. When this happens, Eva suddenly becomes subservient and submissive. I found this to be an inconsistency because, until this point, Eva actively complained about, and challenged, any man who attempted to oppress or abuse women. Consequently, Eva’s behavioural change just doesn’t seem right – especially when the book foregrounds so emphatically what society was like for women in this period.

Despite my (hopefully) constructive criticism however, I still greatly enjoyed reading Owl Manor – The Dawning and finished it in just a few days. The ending was unexpected and, as Harrison is planning to write more books in this series, I am intrigued because I do not know what will happen next.

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: Killing Adam by Earik Beann

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Killing Adam is a science-fiction dystopian novel by Earik Beann.

It is set in a futuristic world in which people are controlled by Altered Reality Chips. ARCS are implants placed behind the ear which allow people to go online for long periods of time and forget the banality of real life. However, behind this technological marvel is a computer singularity – Adam. Adam controls and lives within every brain and monitors every aspect of society, and he must be stopped.

my-image-killing-adam

Killing Adam is a standard but enjoyable piece of science-fiction that fits into the science-fiction and dystopian genres well.

Earik Beann’s creative imagining of what futuristic technology may look like was interesting –  particularly his idea that characters use these ARCs to, quite literally, escape reality.  It was sad that they constantly and willingly plugged themselves into alternate worlds, creating fictions for themselves,leaving their families behind and causing face-to-face relationships to crumble away.

The main character of Killing Adam is Jimmy Mahoney, a fairly ordinary man, who suffers as an outsider in this new futuristic world. Due to a brain injury, Jimmy’s body is unable to accept an ARC. Subsequently, he is excluded from the fantastical online realities that everyone else experiences. However, this means he is not under the mind-controlling influence of Adam. This means Jimmy has a chance. Adam could be destroyed.

For me, it was slightly difficult to understand exactly what or who Adam is. The book describes him as a singularity, which – I think – means he is a form of computerised consciousness. I could be wrong though – I struggled to fully understand the explanations the book provided.

Although I may not understand Adam, his character was fascinating. Adam is a powerful antagonist who uses mind manipulation and cruel, callous language to get what he wants. I thought the characterisation of Adam was particularly impressive, in light of the fact he only ever communicates through other characters’ thoughts and yet I still had a firm impression of Adam’s attitudes and personality traits.

The ending to Killing Adam was fairly standard; it tidies some loose ends but leaves room for a possible sequel, should Earik Beann decide to turn this into a series.

Killing Adam was an enjoyable science-fiction read.

Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

“You feel ecstatic! Until you kill yourself.”

If one science-fiction, dystopian, robotic-themed blog post wasn’t enough – see Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – here’s a second.

The Happy Chip is a story about a revolutionary nano-chip which allows people to monitor their physical health and emotional well-being; it can even guide life choices and personal preferences.  However, writer Brad Davis begins working for the company responsible, and soon learns they have plans to create new chips – this time with more horrific side effects including suicidal tendencies, monstrous rage, and instant death.

My Photo [The Happy Chip].jpg

When choosing a book to review for Rosie’s Book Review Team, the tagline and premise of The Happy Chip immediately caught my eye.

The beginning was shocking and instantly places the reader in the midst of this dystopian technology, forcing you to work things out for yourself. I liked this – not everything needs explaining straightaway.

Yet when explanations are needed, some of the scientific jargon surrounding the biology and nano-chip technology was somewhat overwhelming and in places not particularly clear. Meredith is a science communicator and has worked with science journalists and written various pieces himself, so it is natural the scientific language would be detailed. However, overly scientific jargon can easily become confusing to the “average” reader.

Furthermore, there was a lot of gun terminology that was lost on me. As a reader from the UK, guns are not a part of everyday life; I don’t know anything about them and so specific details regarding models and rounds were seemingly unnecessary to me.

I liked the concept of monitoring and altering emotions and choices at will, as it is reminiscent of other works such as Brave New World and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and raises classic dystopian questions such as “What is free will?” and “What makes us human?”.

The new chips – engineered for different outcomes whether implanted in males or females – was an effective, if not a little stereotypical, threat.

I enjoyed the subtle manipulation of people (wouldn’t in real life obviously, unethical, ew). However, some of the descriptions of characters’ emotional states could have been developed further as they weren’t very detailed.

Pacing was also something I felt could have been improved. Halfway through The Happy Chip, it felt like I was at the climax of the novel. Perhaps the narrative would have been better split into two shorter stories. However, this is simply personal preference (I haven’t been taken over by a nanochip just yet).

I did enjoy The Happy Chip, although Meredith’s storytelling techniques could be improved.

Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: The Edge of the Cemetery by Margaret Millmore

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The Edge of the Cemetery is Margaret Millmore’s sequel to the supernatural thriller What Haunts Me. It follows George Sinclair and his friends,  all of whom have the remarkable talent of being able to see and vanquish ghosts and demons. In this book, George faces some tough demons, and has to act quickly in order to stop Gilles, one of the most powerful, murderous ghosts of all time from unleashing all kinds of supernatural danger.

My Photo [The Edge of the Cemetery]

I liked that the book starts In media res, so we are introduced to action sequences much quicker than in the previous book. I thought the action sequences throughout the narrative were very dramatic and I could certainly see the events unfolding clearly in my imagination.

I also thought the mystery surrounding Calvin, the human chosen to “converge” with Gilles and magnify his power was intriguing, although it took me a while to work out what his significance was.

However, I thought there was excessive recapping of What Haunts Me, which was disappointing because I read it so recently, though other readers may benefit from this. There also seemed to be an over-reliance on dialogue for exposition, and I thought there could have been more creative ways to conceal or reveal different pieces of information.

All in all, I thought the narrative structure of The Edge of the Cemetery was clearer than in What Haunts Me, the characters were more well-established and I enjoyed discovering what was going on in the dramatic life of George Sinclair. If you enjoyed What Haunts Me, you will really enjoy The Edge of the Cemetery.

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.