- Human Flesh.
- Nick Clausen.
- 116 pages.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
During the winter of 2017, a series of strange occurrences took place in a small town of northern Maine. A rational explanation for what happened has still not been presented. Now, for the first time, all the available written evidence is being released to the public from what is commonly know as the Freyston case.
Human Flesh is set in the throes of winter. A family ski trip to Pittsfield is cancelled after Michael Cochran sprains his ankle whilst shovelling snow on the driveway of the family home. Not wanting his son and daughter, Hugh and Otha to miss out on a vacation he suggests that instead they go and visit their grandpa, Fred who lives on a farm on the outskirts of Freyston, a remote town in Maine.
When they arrive in Freyston Fred isn’t waiting for them at the train station, he has forgotten to pick them up. Being only a small town with a small community where everyone knows each other a local called Martin who lives near Fred takes Hugh and Otha to the farm.
When the trio arrives at the farm, it seems deserted, empty and void of life. While searching the house Otha spots Fred standing, staring out of the window in a darkened room. Something feels off to her, it doesn’t feel like her grandpa, like his comforting presence. Fred looks different, gaunt, haunted and taller with pitiless black eyes and for a moment it even looks like he has antlers. That image of Fred, of a creature superimposed over his features, is only glimpsed by Otha in passing. There one second and gone the next before it is Fred standing there, once again her grandpa.
There are various rumours surrounding Fred that have circulated throughout Freyston over the years. Fred’s wife died years ago in a plane crash and Fred was the only survivor of the accident. The plane crashed miles from anywhere in the wilderness, in the freezing cold and rumours have persisted about how Fred was able to survive when all others on board, those who survived the initial crash all perished. Since the crash, Fred has had episodes of going into a trancelike state and acting strangely.
Otha is concerned about her grandpa, his acting weirdly, his episodes of vacant staring and she thinks that he might be showing the early stages of dementia. She wants to uncover the truth as Fred’s erratic behaviour isn’t normal, it is disturbing and there is something wrong with her beloved grandpa. There are other occurrences that add to the disquiet that both Otha and Hugh feel in the isolated house, a creature/person briefly spotted on the roof, rancid smells akin to spoilt meat and the wind whispering, repeating the same word over and over again ‘Wendigo‘.
The story in Human Flesh is told through the written evidence that was collected in relation to the Freyston case. Comprising of text message conversations, transcripts of voice mail messages, transcripts of phone conversations, emails and blog posts written by Otha.
There is also an excerpt from a website article about Swift Runner, an Indian from over a century ago who killed his entire family after hearing the wind whispering ‘Wendigo‘ at him. A diary entry from Fred detailing the plane crash, the aftermath and his survival also adds to the story too.
Each piece of evidence offers a snapshot, a snippet of what is going on and helps to make the whole picture become clearer.
Clausen packs a lot into the short page-count of Human Flesh. I really liked the use of the folklore and myth of the Wendigo and how it is incorporated into the story. The pacing is decent, you get a feel for the characters (as much as you can in a novella) and their personalities, the cold winter setting comes to life, the writing flows well and I loved the format in which the story is told. The use of the blog posts, emails and various transcripts work really well to keep you intrigued in the mystery that is unfolding through them.
There’s no outright gore throughout Human Flesh but there are a creeping unease and a sense of solicitude for what will come to pass. I found it to be easy to read, at times chilling, always page-turning and overall, a highly enjoyable horror novella.
It took me about an hour to read Human Flesh and it was a delightfully dark hour well spent.
Purchase Human Flesh.
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