The Night House
Author: Jo Nesbø
Published: October 3, 2023
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 18- October 18, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars
In the wake of his parents’ tragic deaths in a house fire, fourteen-year-old Richard Elauved has been sent to live with his aunt and uncle in the remote, insular town of Ballantyne. Richard quickly earns a reputation as an outcast, and when a classmate named Tom goes missing, everyone suspects the new, angry boy is responsible for his disappearance. No one believes him when he says the telephone booth out by the edge of the woods sucked Tom into the receiver like something out of a horror movie. No one, that is, except Karen, a beguiling fellow outsider who encourages Richard to pursue clues the police refuse to investigate. He traces the number that Tom prank called from the phone booth to an abandoned house in the Black Mirror Wood. There he catches a glimpse of a terrifying face in the window. And then the voices begin to whisper in his ear . . .
You know who I am. She’s going to burn. The one you love is going to burn. There’s not a thing you can do about it.
When another classmate disappears, Richard must find a way to prove his innocence–and preserve his sanity–as he grapples with the dark magic that is possessing Ballantyne and pursuing his destruction.
Then again, Richard may not be the most reliable narrator of his own story . . .
I love the cover of this one, it’s just reminiscent of back in the old days and seems like it was going to be a good, old fashioned horror story. There are three parts to this novel and the first part was the horror I was looking for! Parts two and three didn’t really work for me. And Richard definitely was an unreliable narrator and we know that sometimes those work for me, sometimes they don’t. In the case of this novel, it just didn’t work for me for most of the book. Richard was just not relatable and unlikable, as he is a bully and it is seen from the beginning.
You do wonder what direction the story is going to go as you are reading. It did take me way too long to read this one: a whole month. My job is trying out us working 4 10-hour days, which means an extra day off during the week! Which I’m hoping will lead to more free reading time! I am hoping for that at least!
Overall, this book was not what I was expecting. I wanted a good scary horror story for the month of October, and most of the book was not that for me. This is also a foreign author and the book was translated, maybe the difference in the countries and story is what didn’t really work for me.
Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy to read and review. I just wish I could have enjoyed the novel more.
Tender is the Flesh
Author: Agustina Bazterrica
Narrator: Joseph Balderrama
Published: August 4, 2020
Audiobook: 6 hours 44 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: September 27-29, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans —though no one calls them that anymore.
His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.
Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.
This is a novella at just over 200 pages or 4.5 hours long for the audiobook and it packs a punch the entire time! I had read some about it so I hoped I had mentally prepared myself for it: and that worked! Tender is the Flesh is definitely not for everyone: It is not for the squeamish. It is extremely gory, brutal, yet also thought provoking. It also brings up a lot of emotions just because of the topic: Humans being bred, farmed, and processed as animals once were.
There are trigger warnings for just about everything: Be fair warned this would also be some spoilers, but I knew about these and didn’t feel like I was spoiled:
Gore and violence
Mistreatment of humans
What can happen to pregnant ‘women’ (mentioned in detail)
**Please note that I was most relieved to know about the animal instance because if I had not known, I don’t know how I would have reacted. It was still exceedingly tough to listen to and I very nearly skipped over that part. But I can say I did make it through. Let’s just say if I had not known in advance about this short section I would have wanted John Wick to make an appearance in the book!
In this dystopian world, a virus has spread across all animals worldwide and humans can no longer eat them. If they eat animals then humans will die. Now Cannibalism is mainstream and legal. Eating human meat is called “special meat”. We have Marcos our main character who works in a processing plant, so we see first-hand how humans have become our meat source. This could be considered slow moving, but Bazterrica seemingly covered every detail for her readers in regards to this world. Marcos wife has left him, and he works at the plant to earn money for his ailing father.
One day he is unexpectedly/illegally given a ‘gift’ of a female FGP (First Generation Pure), the most expensive kind there is. Marcos at first doesn’t know what to do with her. This is in essence the book. We have multiple instances of cannibalism described which left much to be desired for this listener. So much of this book was hard to swallow, but it was like a train wreck: Once I started it I couldn’t stop! I wanted to see what was going to happen, though I had an idea of what was going to happen about halfway through and that thought ended up being correct. What was mean for shock value at the end was not for me because I had it figured out. (Dang it- I hate it when I figure out the big twist!)
This novella is thought provoking in so many ways: Would YOU eat human meat!?!? Could you bring yourself to do it? How far has mankind fallen for Cannibalism to be so mainstream and not a big deal at all? Thinking these kinds of things can cause you to just lose your appetite.
There was one small side story that was abandoned I would have love to see expanded on: A conspiracy theory exists that the virus was faked by the governments so society could devolve and ease overpopulation. Maybe this small mention would be for a sequel? If that came to pass, yes I would read it!
The narrator is Joseph Balderrama and he did a fantastic job! There were a few humorous parts in the novel which I didn’t expect. He really brought Marcos to life for me. Just because of the general topic, this book must have been a challenge to narrate.
Will I read Tender is the Flesh again? No. Am I glad I listened to it? Yes. If you think you might want to read this one, please take heed of everything I said in this review. I only gave it four stars because I figured out the ‘shocking ending’ otherwise it would have been 5 stars. This is a book that will definitely stay with you after you have finished it.[Top]
The Last Girls Standing
Author: Jennifer Dugan
Narrator: Mia Hutchinson-Shaw
Published: August 15, 2023
Audiobook: 9 hours 39 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: August 31- September 7, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
Sloan and Cherry. Cherry and Sloan. They met only a few days before masked men with machetes attacked the summer camp where they worked, a massacre that left the rest of their fellow counselors dead. Now, months later, the two are inseparable, their traumatic experience bonding them in ways no one else can understand.
But as new evidence comes to light and Sloan learns more about the motives behind the ritual killing that brought them together, she begins to suspect that her girlfriend may be more than just a survivor—she may actually have been a part of it. Cherry tries to reassure her, but Sloan only becomes more distraught. Is this gaslighting or reality? Is Cherry a victim or a perpetrator? Is Sloan confused, or is she seeing things clearly for the very first time? Against all odds, Sloan survived that hot summer night. But will she survive what comes next?
This one sounded interesting to me and I loved the idea of the aftermath of two girls surviving a massacre: Unfortunately, for the most part it didn’t really work for me until that final twisty ending! It was a slow-moving novel that was hard for me to get into. I was just interested enough to want to see what happened to finish the book. I didn’t really connect to the characters.
Sloan and Cherry met at the summer camp where they were to work for the summer until the massacre happened and they were the only two who survived. They formed a bond and are in a relationship, but it is very toxic. Sloan has survivor’s guilt and also doesn’t remember what happened that night, and begins to doubt what Cherry says happened that night. We do get to go back in time and over the course of the novel find out what happens. A cult also becomes involved with a supernatural element which didn’t really work for me. If it had been just the cult, I would have enjoyed the book more. I didn’t need a supernatural type element added to the mix. The ending is really what saved the book for me and added .5 stars to make my review 3.5 versus just the average 3 stars.
The Last Girls Standing was also a homage to 80s slasher films, Dugan must be a fan of them! Even the cover seems to be a homage to those type films. The cover is what drew me to want to read this one.
Though it was not totally for me I would give Dugan a try again if another of her book interests me.[Top]