PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... Bazterrica’s interest is less in near-future world-building than in reflecting our grisly present ... The setup sounds like the Charlton Heston teeth-gnasher Soylent Green mated to Anthony Burgess’s satirical novel The Wanting Seed, yet the prose feels like neither. Because of its banal and miserable tone, given a muscular translation by Sarah Moses, Tender Is the Flesh — which won Argentina’s Premio Clarin de Novela — is, at least in spates, more powerful than either forebear ... It’s surprising, though it shouldn’t be, how easy it is to critique our real-life factory-farm processes by mentally swapping a human for a pig or cow. There really is no debate here; our process of mechanizing meat production is morally appalling. If Bazterrica had stopped here, she’d still have crafted one of the most potent indictments since Blood of the Beasts, Georges Franju’s palate-killing 1949 documentary about Paris slaughterhouses ... Of course, Bazterrica isn’t writing a pamphlet. Her new world order isn’t so much woven into story as it is planted in front of us like a gravestone. The conveyer-belt pacing therefore feels intentional: Our murderous wrongs are repeated, and repeated, and to look away is to refuse, deliberately, to bear witness.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"... biting ... Readers will need a high tolerance for the dream scenes — there are quite a few — but they provide necessary, sickening contrast to the spit-and-polish patriotism via talking coyotes, deformed fetuses and other grotesqueries ... What’s a mid-1940s girl in pin curls to do? Shields is too cunning for heroic fantasies. From the get-go, Mildred craves men’s power ... Familiarity with the original Cassandra is not required to appreciate this novel, although those who do know the ancient myth will admire Shields’s skillful tweaks ... But nothing is more troubling or more brilliant than Mildred’s horrifying reaction to a trauma that implicates all of us so forcefully that it’s easy to believe Shields is the one blessed — or cursed — with visions of impending ruin.\
John Ajvide Lindqvist
MixedBooklistAn exercise recalling Stephen King’s Under the Dome ... the explicitly supernatural elements—lurking monsters having something to do with past traumas—never satisfyingly coalesce, but when Lindqvist channels the classic Twilight Zone episode The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, showing how quickly humans will turn on one another, the results are chilling.
Jean-Christophe Brisard and Lana Parshina
RaveBooklistBrisard and Parshina aim to put the whole mess to bed in their exciting, convincing, The Da Vinci Code–like investigation ... The book effectively shuttles between the authors’ time-squeezed investigation and the tense last days of the Führerbunker, revealing longstanding interagency rivalries and Stalin’s dastardly use of fake news. Do the authors find a definitive answer? Yes. A hint: teeth never lie.
PositiveBooklist OnlineAcross two time frames—a green-tinted 1971 and a pink-tinted 1979—Powell tracks Haluska and eventually her young son, Jacob. Their Ozarks town is tiny, with exhibit A being Haluska’s long-time affair with her best friend’s husband, Adrian. They conduct their trysts in an old diamond mine they stumbled across years ago, a spot they keep secret until Adrian’s son, Shane, disappears while playing with Jacob, and Jacob leads the adults right to the mine. Except now the mine has disappeared, too ... The supernatural element is downplayed to creepy effect, giving Powell room to artistically stretch, from narrow sliced-and-diced panels to wide spreads as black as oil. Unique, puzzling, and unexpectedly sad.
PositiveBooklistThe Shining set in a grocery store ... Red herrings and loose ends abound, and some readers will find the book lacks focus. But Auerbach is magnificent with atmosphere, able to conjure dread from a huge array of normally nonthreatening places.
PositiveBooklist\"...a book that showcases his best and worst instincts ... Seemingly written into a corner, the story goes supernatural, with a Salem’s Lot–style gang of reluctant heroes taking up arms against a foe who has something to do with a Mexican monster legend and women-wrestler films. Still, the amazingly strong start should be enough to fuel most readers through the end.\
Ahmed Saadawi, Trans. by Jonathan Wright
RaveBooklist\"There is no shortage of wonderful, literate Frankenstein reimaginings but few so viscerally mine Shelley’s story for its metaphoric riches ... In graceful, economical prose, Saadawi places us in a city of ghosts, where missing people return all the time, justice is fleeting, and even good intentions rot. \'I am the first true Iraqi citizen,\' muses the monster, who is a \'composite of victims\' as much as he is his own extremist. A haunting and startling mix of horror, mystery, and tragedy.\