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: Chills & Creeps Volume 1: Eight Scary Stories by Nick Clausen

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

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

Chills & Creeps is a short anthology of horror and fantasy stories, originally published in Danish, but now available to read in English.

It seems to me most logical to discuss each story in turn, allowing the chance to share my opinions whilst (hopefully) not giving too much away.

1. Under the Skin

This was a good horror story to begin with, about an upholsterer with a liking for human skin, and it was certainly chilling. Whilst I could predict what was going to happen, it was still horrifying to see this unfold. However, although the story was tense, I thought the ending was a little lacklustre.

2. Snapper the Fish

This was a horror story about a pet fish which only eats human flesh. I found it truly gripping and scary – I almost didn’t want to keep reading because of the horror, yet I found myself reading on regardless.

3. Deadly Dreams

This was a fantasy / science fiction short story about a video game that comes to life and has dangerous consequences for its players. It was a reasonable story, but I don’t have anything majorly positive or negative to say about it.

4. All Birds Hate Me

I thought this was the weirdest story in the anthology. The main character, Eagle, is a boy with an illness which causes all birds to attack him. The idea was scary enough – and Hitchcock-inspired, I’m sure – but as all the characters happen to be named after birds, the premise came across as odd and a little silly.

5. Ghost Tennis

This was a reasonable ghost story; a family move into a new home, only for their son Joe to discover the tennis court is haunted and the only way of placating the ghost is by playing tennis matches with it – as long as Joe always loses, of course.

6. Drip-Drip-Drip

This was another horror story I found genuinely unsettling. Nadia, a young girl, becomes entrapped in her own home as it slowly fills with water…

I am not the biggest fan of deep water, and the thought of drowning is terrifying to me. I also happen to enjoy stories in which the home is transformed into a place of horror and danger.*

* In fact, I wrote an entire dissertation on this subject.

7. When I Snap My Fingers…

This is another entertaining and thrilling horror story about two siblings; Curtis takes his little sister Rachel to a hypnotist’s tent at the fair. However, once hypnotised, Rachel no longer seems herself. In fact, it’s almost like she’s become someone else entirely. And now “Rachel” is determined to destroy her family’s life.

8. Lights Out

This was the last story in the anthology, a fantasy story about a boy who can control lights with his mind. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the others, and I thought it lacked any real ‘chills or creeps’. I thought it was a shame to end on a story that wasn’t scary, when so many of the other stories heavily featured horrifying elements. In future anthologies, it might be sensible to organise the stories differently – perhaps by beginning with the least scary story, to build fear and suspense as the anthology progresses towards the most scary story.


Following each story, Clausen added an author’s note, explaining where his inspiration for the story came from. I appreciated this and found it very interesting; I like seeing where authors get their ideas from!

On the whole, whilst every story was not necessarily my cup of tea, Chills & Creeps Volume 1 was an enjoyable and well-executed collection of short stories. They reminded me of the Goosebumps series by R.L Stine, and I think Clausen has a talent for transforming the ordinary and everyday into the terrifying and repulsive, playing on childhood (or adulthood) fears we’ve faced at one point or another in our lives.

Star Rating: 4/5 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: 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: Clone Crisis by Melissa Faye

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

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

Clone Crisis is the first in a new young adult, dystopian series. The book is set in a 25th century world where cloning has replaced reproduction. Careers and education are assigned by DNA, rather than talent. Without any parents or family, Yami is brought up to follow the slogan: what’s best for the community is best for all. However, she begins to question this, wondering if what’s best for the community may not be best for anyone.

My Photo [Clones Crisis].jpg

Clone Crisis shares some similarities to The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins or the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. In style, it also reminded me of another good YA book I read called UnBlessed, written by Crystin Goodwin, another member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The dystopian idea of a fertility crisis it immediately makes me think of novels like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Plus, filling the entire world with replicas of a previous generation is a chilling prospect.

Clone Crisis has some fun scenes and it has an interesting cliff-hanger, leaving space to explore the consequences of Yami’s actions.

Speaking of Yami, I thought the character names (e.g. Yami, Etta, Vonna) were almost at risk of being weird for the sake of being weird. A small thing to notice, I know, and not a serious issue (other names like Katniss, Triss, or Kisara aren’t exactly normal either).

I also thought some of Yami’s interactions with Ben, her ex-boyfriend, were a bit clunky. I understand things can be frosty between exes, but their dialogue came across as unintentionally awkward.

As a piece of feedback, I think the overbearing, authoritarian nature of the community leaders could be emphasised more, in order to clarify the cruelty of the community and help the reader support Yami’s own actions more.

However, I really don’t have much to nit-pick. Clone Crisis was an enjoyable read, and if you like the dystopian titles I’ve already mentioned throughout this book review, I’d recommend this series to you.

Star Rating: 4/5 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: Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie

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

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

Doctor Perry assures elderly patients at the Rose Haven Retirement Home he can offer warmth, sympathy, and understanding. Doctor Perry is lying.

My Image [Dr Perry]

I greatly enjoyed Kirsten McKenzie’s gothic horror novel, Painted, which you can read my review for here.

The narration and writing style of Doctor Perry is clipped and meticulously detailed, creating a nice parallel for Doctor Perry’s own personality.

At first, I thought this book was like a modern-day Sweeney Todd – a concept I was completely on board with. Doctor Perry doesn’t follow this narrative trajectory however, but it is still suitably unsettling.

Doctor Perry is the best character by far; he’s mysterious, psychopathic and darkly interested in in all kinds of science.

I also liked the twin boys fostered by Doctor Perry’s wife because they’re disturbingly violent and almost ghostlike – like something from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Similarly to Painted, there were multiple moments where a character ‘failed to notice’ something. I mentioned this in my review of Painted too; repeatedly informing the reader what the protagonist hasn’t seen. Personally, I don’t think this a dynamic way to convey information and works better in horror films and television dramas then it does in a novel.

I thought the ending was quite abrupt – I would have loved Doctor Perry to be longer, to provide further chances to develop the characters and storyline.

I enjoyed reading Doctor Perry and it was a real shame when it ended! If you like thrillers, dark science-fiction, or McKenzie’s work in general, I’m sure you will enjoy Doctor Perry too.

Star Rating: 4/5 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 Afters by Christopher O’Connell

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

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

It’s the end of the world.

The Afters is about Charles Gilbert Billingsworth the VIII (Charlie). He is surviving – and enjoying – the zombie apocalypse, until he finds two lost children – one of whom is hiding a powerful secret.

My Photo [The Afters].jpg

I liked it.

The Afters was easy to read, easy to follow, and the tone was witty and conversational – albeit a bit too conversational in places.

There were a few typing issues, such as the unintended fluctuation between past and present tense and some words at the start of chapters lacked spaces, but I’m sure those are things a quick edit can resolve.

When it comes to zombie apocalypse fiction, The Afters covers a lot of common ground – America is struck by a virus that has destroyed the population, quarantines are set up, camps are set up by groups both good and bad, some people are fortunately immune, and there are plenty of zombie attacks and scavenger hunts. However, O’Connell writes about all of these things well, so if you really enjoy apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, this would be a great book for you.

However, in an age where everyone seems to be writing apocalyptic fiction, and zombie TV shows and video games like The Walking Dead have massive success, I wanted to see something new too.

Around halfway through The Afters, O’Connell delivers this. Firstly, in Charlie’s discovery that one of the children in his care has a remarkable supernatural ability and secondly, that the zombies may not be dead, but mutating.

It was interesting to read The Afters alongside Cell by Stephen King. Cell is another book set in a zombie apocalypse, where a blast from mobile telephones renders all uses dead, zombified, or something in between. However, some of these zombies gradually become smarter – learning, developing, rebooting themselves, with sinister intentions. With that in mind, it’s nice to see authors take on a popular or, dare I say it, overdone idea and add new things to the genre I haven’t come across before, and this is what O’Connell does.

I was also impressed with how many genuinely tense and scary scenes there were, that place the reader in the centre of zombie attacks and violence. Very entertaining.

However, Charlie’s first-person narration began to irk me once he met Kalila; he describes her in a provocative way and stares at her bosom a great deal. As a female reader, it was uncomfortable to read through his, quite frankly, sleazy thoughts and comments about a woman and it was an aspect of Charlie’s character I did not enjoy.

All in all, The Afters is a well-written piece of zombie apocalypse fiction that does everything you’d expect it and then a little bit more.

Star Rating: 4/5 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.