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The Price of Meat

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  176 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr. Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder.

As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, will she--or any
ebook, 73 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by KJC Books
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K.J. Charles
Sep 08, 2017 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
A standalone short horror novella (15K words) that I wrote for the All In Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales anthology. It's still available in that along with five other great queer horror stories, but if all you're after is this one, it'll be out with a fantastically pulpy cover by Sandra Schwab on 1 Dec.

This is very definitely horror, not romance (though there are romantic elements because me). It's my take on the classic penny dreadful, using elements of the original story of Sweeney To
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, lgbt, novella
Further proof I will read anything this woman writes, even a penny dreadful style horror novella set in an alternate London where the bad guys have managed to build themselves a society where the laws don't apply. This was actually surprisingly horrifying for such a short story. There was SO much gross stuff in there! There was also a bit of romance there (this time, both a lesbian and a gay couple), but the focus was the horror stuff. Which was. Let's say interesting (sounds so much better than ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was so good. It's a historical horror story about the terrible (made up) things that are going on in Alsatia (actual real place). It was super entertaining. I would actually love some full length books about these characters.
Roxana Chirilă
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For some reason, this story is rendered in my head in black and white, with a bit of the flickering of old silent movies. It must be because it's a penny dreadful, so it's a bit theatrical - but by god, it's a good penny dreadful.

In an alternate-universe London, in which Victor II and not Victoria is on the throne of England, and the British Empire is falling to pieces, a young woman is trying to save her lover from being murdered for her inheritance. For that, she needs to discover the secrets
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Charles creates a Victorian AU with a touch of Sweeney Todd, an insane asylum and a rotting warren of land called a "liberty" - an area "in which the laws don’t hold and the King’s writ doesn’t run." Add one heroic inspector, a brave young woman and a search for the horrible truth hidden amidst the lawless liberty. A somewhat horrifying read that I couldn't put down. 4 stars!
Stephanie   GooglyEyes

This was a nice (I use that term VERY loosely) short story for the season of haunting.

A historical work of fiction that is based around Sweeney Todd and Fleet St.
Of course this occurs after the cannibalistic barber, as there is a play on the name.

There are also some added features such as the free, lawless land of Alstasia (thats not so free) and a scientist working on "special" surgeries.

The story starts at the Asylum for the Weak Minded which I believe is a front to the Freemen of Alst
What a ghastly story. I want to read more on the adventures of Johanna and Belle and Jeffery and Ingestrie. (view spoiler) ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to put this book away for a bit, because it really really scared the shit out of me.
I don't do scary books because I am a wuss.

I love reading Charles' books in general, but I particularly love the ones set in Victorian London. Her research is so thorough, I usually find out things I never knew before (not that I am a expert on my adopted city) and in this case is the existence of the liberty of Alasatia, and I would really recommend you to go down the Wikipedia rabbit hole that it's this b
Erin (PT)
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meat Cute (sorry, I had to!)

I have a long time love of horror, and this story reminds me of the pages on pages of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Presents anthologies I tore my way through, once upon a time.

Though brevity makes the story short on details, it’s the kind of story that’s better for knowing less and letting the imagination run wild, creating horrors greater and more horrible via the unknown. It’s also fascinating to see how Charles incorporates real history int
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: readathon17
#readathon17 Ένα βιβλίο τρόμου

I generally avoid horror because I get scared easily, but I love KJ Charles and I'll read her shopping list if she ever cares to publish it. This is jampacked with suspense and gore, with an interesting alternate historical twist, queer characters and the lovely writing that I've come to enjoy greatly this past year. It only gets three stars because I don't like horror and because it's too short. I'd love to see more from these characters (prequels, sequels, anythin
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Tooooooooooo short! Need more!
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had forgotten I had read this in the anthology, All in Fear, and what a shiveringly good story it is. It’s very different from the rest of Ms. Charles’ works, but still excellent. The heroine, Johanna Oakley, is fierce and resourceful, and a good match for the police Colonel. Together they solve the mystery of the disappearing men and the barbershop of Sawney Reynard.
Soukyan Blackwood
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
all reviews in one place:
night mode reading
skaitom nakties rezimu

About: At the heart of London there’s rot called the liberty of Alsatia, where King’s law doesn’t exist, and where the worst of the worst gather. For to choose liberty in Alsatia just to avoid death, well, let’s just say some would have their doubts about which fate is worse. Here, in the dark narrow streets teeming with violence and hunger, rule the so called Freemen, elite of this nightmare. Men who found a way out of Alsat
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
This was tightly plotted and well-written, as K.J. Charles' books always are; there's a reason she's one of my favorite authors! A penny dreadful horror novella with gory elements was just never going to be my jam. I also didn't do myself any favors by not reading the blurb or any of what Charles had said about the book before I read it (that's 1000% on me, obviously), so I had a vague idea that it was a historical f/f romance, which I had been very excited about, and then it was not only not th ...more
Mónica BQ
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
After the absolute disaster that was the "Sins of the Cities" series for me, I'm truly relieved to say that I loved this.

This was gruesome and a bit gory and I was delighted with it. Plus it was hilarious that his was released as a December novella, making it really fun to see among "Christmas-y" titles.

My only complaint is that I would have liked this to be a full length novel oooor at the very least for it have a more tightly done ending. I truly hope that the vagueness of it doesn't mean the
Pam Faste aka Peejakers
Wonderfully dark & satisfyingly horrifying horror story; a huge helping of gruesome with a side of queer romance (f/f and m/m), and a side of social commentary as well. Yes, metaphors intended 😁 And I do mean gruesome, parts of this are really not for the faint of heart or the easily unsettled of stomach. But if you're up for that, it's a great story, quite gripping & of course, extremely well written, with a gutsy, fiercely determined heroine, yay!.

I was also really fascinated by the c
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a devote follower of KJ and a lover of horror so this was an easy pick up for me. Short, thrilling, and a good mix of familiarity to the tale of Sweeney Todd with a toss of the unexpected and re-imagined. This tale skews slightly to the absurd side of horror, which is just another plus mark in my book, but I could see others being frustrated by the subtlety KJ adds to her writing in this specific tale. It's a short that does exactly what I love a short to do; hints at a full world for the st ...more
Love the horror and creepy factor~

A change of pace from other KJ Charles I’ve read, way darker, but I still enjoyed it. I loved the incorporation of Sweeney Todd and all this dark-underbelly history going on. Not a lot of focus on the relationship between Arabella and Johanna, but their relationship is wonderfully incorporated into the storyline. I also found it amusing how their sexual relationship kept having the door closed; the way KJ wrote it was just such a nice humor added to such a dark
Deborah  Cleaves
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sweeney Todd Xmas Tale

Appallingly short tale involving two lesbians and two gay men facing criminal corruption on a grand scale, a retelling of Sweeney Todd with meat lockers full of lost men and a Mengele type performing face transplant experiments on criminals. Well-told with terse descriptions, a deus ex machina or two, and the belated discovery that this is a Christmas novella made me laugh out loud. Definitely a “Nightmare Before Christmas” without Tim Burton. Very entertaining.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Well, this was quite a romp. It’s a delightful penny dreadful with over-the-top gore and horrors (from a dreary asylum to cannibalism as a nutrition plan), obscure historical facts (apparently sanctuary territories where the laws of the land did not apply were a thing, who’d have thought), and a nice stylized narrative voice. I’d read a sequel in a heartbeat.
Helen Kord
What a magnificent short story. In a very short space, KJ managed to sketch up an incredibly interesting world, gave us an amazing protagonist in Jo and some absolutely wonderful characters I desperately need to see more of. It was creepy and made me feel the need to take a shower without actually scaring me, which is nice, since I'm a huge scaredycat.
All in all I was heartbroken when the story ended because I wanted more so badly
Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a gruesome but fun little read, but I wish it was longer. 15,000 words was not enough space to have a main romantic relationship and a subplot about a secondary romantic relationship as well as cannibalistic horror. Annabelle could also have stood some more fleshing out, she felt more like an object/motive than a character in her own right.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-f, historical, m-m, horror
Alternative historical horror. I don't normally read horror but it's KJ Charles so of course I had to. I wanted to skip to the end but my Kindle was on the fritz so just had to keep reading. Glad I did. Well written as usual, horror with a hint of romance. Don't think about the gory details. Could have read more about these couples but it was wrapped up well enough for a short story.
Rene Sears
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a great deal of nauseating fun. I wan't aware of the history of the Liberty of Alsatia ( but it makes a grim setting as our intrepid heroine Johanna gets entangled in a plot there as she tries to free her beloved from a madhouse. This works really well as a short story but I'd be happy to read more set in this world.
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Horror with a slice of mirth

What a great read, I need more from this universe very interesting divergence and loved all the characters well balanced of M\M and F\F for me I enjoy mixtures of it.
Bring on more please!
M. Arbon
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyable. One thing I love about Charles is that even in her short work she manages to sketch characters' entire histories and the world they live in, making them and their motivations real and believable. A fun read.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well, that was creepy as fuck. I am NOT a horror reader, but I love KJ Charles and I wasn't about to miss a story of hers starring queer ladies. This was totally worth it. Grisly, with just the perfect amount of dark humor.
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gothic horror. Suspension is well done.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well, that was certainly gruesome.

Wish it had been longer, though.
Amanda Kendall
I enjoyed it,as a short story, but I felt like it needed more narrative to become a complete tale
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I'm a writer of romance, mostly m/m, often historical or fantasy or both.

I'm also a freelance editor, and I blog about writing and editing at

I live in London, UK, with husband, two kids, and a cat of absolute night.

Follow me on Twitter @kj_charles or friend me on Facebook at