Tender Is The Flesh: Agustina Bazterrica
Reviewed By Steve Stred
‘Tender is the Flesh’ came onto my radar by seeing a lot of readers saying they’d read it and found it gripping and repulsive.
Color me sold.
Any time a book is presented as featuring a ‘fresh’ trope that hasn’t been done a lot it’s something that gathers buzz.
What I liked: This story at its heart is a tale of grief in a world struggling to adapt and survive.
We meet Marcos, the right-hand man at the food processing plant. Simple, right?
Not so fast. The animals of the world have been decimated by a virus which made them unable to be consumed, which means man needs a new form of protein to ingest.
This is the part where many people will find it repulsive. Because the new protein is harvested from humans.
I really loved the methodical, sterile approach Bazterrica took when dealing with the “cattle.” In my real-life profession, I took a cadaver lab where we dissected some donated patients. The approach the instructor took was very similar to how Bazterrica went through the more unfortunate parts.
Along the way, we learn more about Marcos job, his family and what has happened to cause his grief. The storyline with his Father was fantastic, even if incredibly bleak and the loss Marcos has suffered was truly sad. Those two parts worked to elevate the descent Marcos is suffering and ultimately why things finish the way they do.
What I didn’t like: This is a tough one for me to review because Bazterrica did a fantastic job with portraying grief and I loved the world this was set in, as hideous as it sounds. Unfortunately for me, when a delivery is made, we’d already learned of Marcos loss, and for me the entire story occurred exactly how I expected. When the delivery arrived, I thought that x will happen, leading to x, which will end with z happening and it did, which really resulted in me ultimately not enjoying this as much as I’d hoped. For me, it was all too predictable.
Why you should buy this: This book is extreme horror with heart. A really fantastic look at grief and sorrow in a world where things have taken a turn and the new reality is something that you can’t turn away from. Bazterrica really has created a unique experience and while I found it a bit predictable, it may read completely differently for you.
Tender Is The Flesh
It all happened so quickly. First, animals became infected with the virus and their meat became poisonous. Then, governments initiated the Transition. Now, ‘special meat’ – human meat – is legal.
Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans only no one calls them that. He works with numbers, consignments, processing. One day, he’s given a gift to seal a deal: a specimen of the finest quality. He leaves her in his barn, tied up, a problem to be disposed of later.
But the specimen haunts Marcos. Her trembling body, her eyes that watch him, that seem to understand. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost – and what might still be saved…
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here