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The Butcher's Daughter

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Looking for a dark and compelling psychological thriller with a twist you won't see coming?

Trust no one. Not even yourself.

When Natalie Powers returns home for the first time in thirteen years, she must convince everyone she has fully recovered from the mental illness, which has seen her institutionalised for most of her young life.

But instead of being welcomed back, Natalie enters a baffling world of deception. She must fight her way through the lies in order to discover the truth about her mother’s sudden disappearance sixteen years earlier. To do this, Natalie must also try to make sense of the hazy memories from the past that continue to haunt her.

In the village of Little Downey, everybody appears to harbour a mysterious secret, including her father, Frank, the village butcher, who refuses to discuss the circumstances surrounding Natalie’s mother's disappearance, but who can Natalie trust if not her own father? Especially when it becomes clear her protector and confidante, Dr Moses, is not all he appears.

Meanwhile, a spate of unexplained clifftop suicides has seen the seaside resort go into decline. Are the villagers somehow involved or is something more sinister at work?

Determined to find out what happened to her mother, Natalie must make sure her own frailty and self-doubt does not catapult her back to the mental institution before she can uncover the truth…

Jane E. James is the author of the chilling thriller The Crying Boy. The Butcher's Daughter is a compelling and beautifully written psychological thriller which will appeal to fans of authors like Sheryl Browne, Nuala Ellwood and Teresa Driscoll.

332 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 6, 2019

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About the author

Jane E. James

6 books83 followers
Best selling author, Jane E James creates chilling reads that appeal to fans of psychological thrillers, mysteries and dark fiction. Jane loves to weave tense and haunting tales that stay in the reader's mind. All her books are standalone novels.

Her 2nd novel, The Crying Boy (a compelling suspense thriller inspired by actual events) became an overnight best seller on Amazon, knocking both Stephen King and Dean Koontz off the top suspense spot. Jane started out as a scriptwriter but soon switched back to her love of writing novels and couldn't be happier. A life in the city just wasn't for her.

When she isn't writing (or reading) Jane enjoys living 'the good life' in the Rutland countryside, in a small village close to the town of Stamford, Lincolnshire in the UK; known for its quirky tea shops and cobbled streets.

An animal lover, who believes 'all life is precious' Jane is a vegetarian trying very hard to become a vegan. Her motto in life is to 'say yes to everything.' Up until recently, Jane always owned dogs but having lost all her 'fur-babies' over the last ten years, is not quite ready to give her heart to another.

Although born in Cambridgeshire, she is half Welsh and hopes, one day, to retire to the mountains of South Wales, where she feels closest to her late mother, whose maiden name 'James' is where Jane gets her pen name from. Once there, she plans to adopt and rescue all kinds of animals including donkeys, sheep, chickens and goats.

Rebecca, Carrie, The Woman in Black and Wuthering Heights are among some of Jane's favourite reads.

Visit her website www.janeejames.com or catch up with her on facebook and twitter. But bring Monster Munch and wine...

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5 stars
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94 (25%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Lou (nonfiction fiend).
2,771 reviews1,624 followers
May 14, 2019
Bestselling author Jane E. James returns with another dark, suspenseful psychological tale based around mental health, the surrounding stigmatisation, family secrets, deception, duplicity, memory and the ominous, mysterious disappearance of main protagonist, Natalie's, mother. Almost two decades after the disappearance still no-one will talk about it, but Natalie is stubborn and astute and will not stop until she discovers the answers to her questions. Slowly but surely she realises that there is some sort of cover-up going on and that nobody, even those she used to trust the most, is above suspicion.

The Butcher's Daughter is a chilling read, and as it gallops along the tension builds and builds as the twists in the tale are cleverly revealed. It's so intense that at times my heart was in my mouth; I really didn't expect to enjoy it so much. The characters were rather enigmatic and the switching up of the narrative every so often makes it unpredictable. Mental health is treated in a respectful manner, and as a mental health campaigner, I appreciated the book raising some much-needed awareness.

I loved it and found it the most compelling and compulsively readable of James's dark fiction so far. And that conclusion. Wowzer. Read it! Many thanks to Bloodhound Books for an ARC.
Profile Image for Mark Tilbury.
Author 24 books258 followers
May 26, 2019
Well that messed with my head!
There are parts of this book that will haunt my mind for a long time. The imagery created by the descriptions of both people and events painted vivid pictures in my mind as I read. Some weren't pleasant due to the butchering nature of them.

Main character, Natalie, is really interesting, if not a little unnerving. As she was unsure of what was going on around her, and who she should trust, so was I. Her time in an institution may or may not have helped her. I remain unsure.

After having read the creepiness of The Crying Boy I was expecting another dark read, and this certainly delivers.
Dark? Check.
Disturbing? Check.
Some of the best fictional imagery I've read? Check.
If you like your fiction on the dark side, then this'll put you through the mincer!
Profile Image for Philomena Callan Cheekypee.
3,873 reviews396 followers
May 13, 2019
The Butchers Daughter is without a doubt going to be one of my top reads for this year. I absolutely loved it.

My heart broke for Natalie while reading this. Like seriously how can someone go through so much heartbreak. She hasn’t had it easy.

Home now after being away for thirteen years things aren’t easy for her.

The little village has its own secrets.

Is there strange going ons happening in the village or is it all in Natalie’s mind?

My dad, Granda, uncle and cousin worked in an abattoir. Luckily my visit, the one and only time, wasn’t anything like Natalie’s visit. Her visit gave me the heebie jeebies.

It’s hard to write a review without spilling too much. I can not recommend this story highly enough. It’s so so good. I’m hoping Jane is busy writing as this was an amazing read and I can’t wait to read more.
Profile Image for Kelly Van Damme.
647 reviews23 followers
May 18, 2019
The Butcher’s Daughter starts when Natalie, a.k.a. the butcher’s daughter, returns home to Little Downey after having been away for thirteen years in a nearby psychiatric hospital. Right away, I got a sense of dread and a feeling of what the hell is wrong with these people?! Because everyone seems to be acting really strange. Or are they? Maybe it’s just Natalie’s imagination? Natalie’s father, his help Daniel, the townsfolk, the gypsies that live nearby, Natalie’s psychiatrist, they all seem to be hiding something. Or are they? Maybe Natalie is just overly sensitive, or too paranoid. Very soon I trusted absolutely no one. Not Natalie, because I could not for the life of me figure out how reliable or unreliable she was as a narrator, how trustworthy her point of view was. Not her father or Daniel, who seemed so shifty. Not the mysterious gypsies. Trailing Natalie felt like a descent into madness. But, you know, in a good way!

Eventually, we end up with a topic that took me by complete surprise, of all the things I was expecting, that was not it. I won’t name it here, it would be a major spoiler, but, although used in books and films before, it felt rather unique to me, very horror-esque and a welcome departure from the beaten path many psychological novels tend to stick to religiously. With this topic in mind, the tension was even more palpable, I was at tenterhooks throughout! So bear in mind, this is not the typical psychological thriller set in a small town, you will have to suspend disbelief occasionally. I wouldn’t say the premise is impossible, let’s just say it’s very unlikely… I hope!

I for one enjoyed this ride tremendously and I can’t wait to see what Jane comes up with next, and to explore her earlier work!

A mysterious psychological thriller with clear elements of horror, The Butcher’s Daughter is not for the faint-hearted, but if you enjoy both genres, this is the one for you!
Profile Image for Lel Budge.
1,397 reviews26 followers
May 13, 2019

The start of this is brutal, Natalie’s Dad wanted her to toughen up, so as a seven year old he told her they were going to a zoo, but instead he took her to the abattoir, where men were slaughtering animals….the blood and sheer terror of the animals was palpable….horrific…

Natalie, is now returning home, after spending thirteen years in an institution….people treat her with caution and her father, Frank is as mean as he was when she left…..refuses to talk about her mother……she died…..didn’t she?

What is in the whitewashed building??…….

Natalie is still self harming as she is so distressed all the time…….will she find the truth of Suicide Bay….

This is one of the most nerve wracking books I have read…..the animal slaughter brings a horror of its own…..but it gets worse…something awful is being done by the inhabitants of Little Downey……or is it all in Natalie’s damaged mind?

Do not read this at night……those blue Little Downey eyes will haunt you…!

Thank you to Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
Profile Image for Phil Price.
Author 15 books216 followers
July 6, 2019
I won't give too much away plot-wise, suffice to say this book is grim and unnerving. Set in an isolated village in the wilds of Wales, the story focuses on Natalie, a young girl, traumatised after the apparent death of her mother. Back in Little Downey years later, Natalie has to question what is real and what are lies. The ending was superb and a fitting climax to a thoroughly thrilling read.

All the characters are well written, leaving the reader unsure about their motives or indeed their reality. The setting is very well described too, a real feeling of isolation radiating from the pages as you read on. Gruesome in places, The Butcher's Daughter will shock you, more from the psychological torment that the protagonist endures, than the graphic set pieces which are traumatising enough.

A fabulous book, that will stay with me for a long time.

I look forward to reading more from this talented author.
Profile Image for Debbi Smith.
400 reviews5 followers
May 13, 2019
Part mystery, part supernatural, this book is fantastic. Read it when you have plenty of time because you won't want to put it down.
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,999 reviews42 followers
May 20, 2019
If there’s one thing that this Ginger Book Geek likes, it’s discovering new authors. Jane E. James is certainly a new author for me. I read the synopsis for ‘The Butcher’s Daughter’ and it sounded like just the sort of creepy read I like. I must be a sadist because at the moment the creepier the book is, the more I like it. Anyway back to the point. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Butcher’s Daughter’ but more about that in a bit.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Natalie at first . Don’t get me wrong I empathised with her because she has mental health problems as I also suffer with mental health issues, although mine are different to Natalie’s. She has been institutionalised for the vast majority of her formative years and I couldn’t even begin to imagine how horrific that must have been. Following her discharge, she goes back home for the first time in 13 years, which must have been so strange for her. She is curious about what happened to her mother and she makes enquiries of her own. I couldn’t help but cross my fingers that she managed to survive in one piece and that she didn’t put herself in any unnecessary danger. I really felt for the poor kid and there were a few times where I wished that I could have jumped inside the pages of the book to give her a hug or to provide a shoulder for her to cry on. That said there was something about her personality that I just didn’t take to and I think that I would have kept her at arms length.
For me, ‘The Butcher’s Daughter’ is brilliantly written with storylines that will stay in my mind for a very long time to come. I certainly won’t forget the way the story started. I made the mistake of starting to read this book whilst I was eating my dinner and to be honest it temporarily put me off my food. It’s enough to turn somebody into a vegetarian. The author’s writing style is easy to take to and easy to get along with. The story started with a bang and it maintained its fairly fast pace all the way through. The author dangles enough bait in front of you to ensure that you keep on reading. I have to say that the author certainly kept me on my toes and left me on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion.
From the moment I picked up ‘The Butcher’s Daughter’ I was under the book’s spell. I just couldn’t stop reading and everything else just had to go on the back burner. The first part of the book almost put me off finishing the rest of it but I am so glad that I persevered with the book. ‘The Butcher’s Daughter’ was definitely a memorable and interesting read. I think that because I empathised with Natalie to a degree, I just had to keep reading to see what fate held in store for her. I found it extremely difficult to put this book down. It wasn’t exactly glued to my hand but it might as well have been because it came everywhere with me. It was as if I feared breaking the book’s spell if I put it to one side. I honestly didn’t realise how much I had read until I checked and was staggered to realise that I had read 33% of the story. I was enjoying the author’s writing style, the characters and the storylines so much that I didn’t notice how quickly the time was passing or how quickly the pages were turning.
There were many things I liked about this book but what I especially liked was the fact that mental health problems and care provision formed a large part of the overall book. There’s still a stigma attached to mental health and anything that increases awareness or debate can only be a good thing.
In short I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Butcher’s Daughter’ and I will most certainly be reading Jane’s other books. I would recommend this book to others. I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next. Here’s hoping that we don’t have too long to wait. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 4* out of 5*.
Profile Image for Richard Burke.
Author 9 books18 followers
May 21, 2019
This is the story of Natalie, a young woman who returns home after a long spell in a mental institution. She is the daughter of a butcher. As a child, she is traumatised when she witnesses the inside of a slaughterhouse. The details are pretty graphic, so if you are of a delicate disposition, read something else!
When she returns to her father's house in a remote coastal village, the residents are more than a little strange. As the story develops, the reader is left wondering how much is real and how much is taking place in Natalie's head.
The author builds the tension with several skilfully written twists and turns.
A dark but enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Alexina.
476 reviews32 followers
May 13, 2019
Jane has a great way of writing within he realms of mystery and this is one compelling dark read.

It is best to read it in as few sittings as possible because the creepy element of tension really works well and you are absorbed in to the lives of Natalie and her world.

The setting gives the background story a fabulous character and helps the narrative and description be strong.

A wonderfully written novel that will keep you guessing as to what is going on.

Shrouded in mystery and a depth of darkness.
Profile Image for  ✰  Charlie  ✰ Chisholm.
1,982 reviews22 followers
May 22, 2019
4.5 stars

This is my first book by this author and will not be my last I liked the writing style and the story had me from the start I couldn't turn the pages quick enough to find out what was going happen really enjoyed this story.
Profile Image for Craig Gillan.
526 reviews5 followers
May 13, 2019
Had me hooked from the beginning, really creepy little village and inhabitants were people you wouldn’t want to live next to
Profile Image for Jan.
482 reviews
May 31, 2019
I hate to give a negative review but dont read this if you feel depressed. It was gruesome and descriptive in the gore, I hated that. Then there was the details of animals being slaughtered, another big no no. It was so slow in the narrative I started to scan read. I just didn't connect on any level at all. I had seen rave reviews so I thought I would buy I wish I hadn't. Not my kind of book alas blood and guts does not serve any useful purpose for me after seeing my son suffer with a blood disorder I cannot conceive why this would be written as entertainment. Sorry I hate not having anything good to say.
Profile Image for Alyson Read.
757 reviews26 followers
May 15, 2019
The story commences with the return of Natalie Powers to the village of Little Downey where she grew up until the age of ten. The daughter of village butcher Frank, she has spent the last thirteen years being treated by the father figure of Dr Moses for a mental illness in a local institution after the apparent suicide of her mother. Her father refuses to talk about her mother, and Natalie has always doubted the official version of events. There have been a number of unexplained cliff top suicides at the village, which has led to Little Downey falling out of favour as a seaside resort, and now the villagers keep themselves to themselves. Whilst trying to convince everyone, including herself, that she is cured and can be a good daughter, Natalie struggles with strange disturbing memories from her childhood and finds it hard to distinguish truth from fantasy. One of her earliest memories is from the age of seven when it seems she may have witnessed more than is good for her at the abattoir, but with everyone keeping secrets, she has no one she can turn to in her quest to uncover the truth about her mother, and one false move could land her back in the institution for good. The story is quite a slow burn to start with as the suspense builds up over the mystery of what had actually happened all those years ago to result in Natalie being sent away. The story is dark and haunting, and quite unsettling in places, and as an animal lover I found some of the slaughter scenes quite hard to stomach. In the parts of the book narrated by Natalie, it was hard to know what was fact and what were constructs of her mind, making the story even more twisty and puzzling. This author certainly has a vivid imagination and I'm sure this disturbing book will prove popular. 3.5/5.0
77 reviews2 followers
May 24, 2019
I hate saying this but this book wasn't for me. I've read some reviews that raved about the book and it sounded right up my street, a good psychological thriller with lots of blood and gore but sadly I just didn't connect with the characters.

The ending was very good and neatly tied everything up together and there is no getting away from the fact that there were some really shocking and gruesome moments in the book that made my cringe but for me there was just something missing,

Natalie clearly has issues as does every character in the book. Her mother's death had obviously taken it's toll and clearly it has been something that she has never gotten over. The village of Little Downey is a sinister place and one that I hope I never have the pleasure of visiting and it's really made me wonder about what really goes on in butchers shops.

I would put this in the horror category as there is plenty of blood and lots of gory scenes. The reference to the red silk dress of her mothers is something that I could definitely see in a movie and would make a scary, hide behind the cushion moment.

There were a lot of moments in the book that I really did enjoy reading, the complex relationship with Daniel, Natalie's father's employee and Natalie's one time best friend and moving on from there her new found friendship with the Irish gypsy Jed and his slightly wild sister Merry. Despite me not loving the book, I certainly didn't hate it and I do think that elements of the book will stay with me for some weeks to come.

388 reviews7 followers
June 15, 2019
A Very Gripping and Harrowing Thriller

No Spoilers in My Reviews:

This novel will definitely sit with me for quite some time. It is one that has a nearly tangible feel to it, and sets a rather spooky tone throughout. This lends to the reading quite well. I would definitely warn that this novel is not for the faint of heart. It is a very eerie, surreal experience. I enjoyed it immensely.

The plotting is excellently-written. The story moves in a way that kept me turning pages and wanting to know what is next. It definitely keeps you guessing. That is part of why it is so good. Natalie makes for an interesting protagonist and the supporting characters are also quite well-crafted. The location is abstract enough to allow the reader their own take upon the strange happenings described in this small, strange village.

One begins to read, and never really quite knows what is going on, or which version of events is correct. Which is part of the reason that the story is so good. We are kept guessing, and I am quite satisfied with the entire book. The mysteries that are lain before us are exquisitely dropped in a masterful way, and I was deeply satisfied with the book cover to cover.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading thrillers. This definitely prickled some Goosebumps for me. Well done to the author, Jane E. James

As Always I Wish Happy Reads to All, From the Unapologetic Book Junkie!
Profile Image for Nicole.
32 reviews1 follower
June 10, 2019
The first chapter (without giving spoilers) does go into quite graphic detail about the process of what happens when animals are sent to slaughter. There is no kinder way to say that, unfortunately. If this is something that will upset you then perhaps you should skip the first chapter, at least.

As someone who has worked in a Food Manufacturing company within HR for several years, I am fully aware of the process, but have (thankfully) not witnessed it myself. I can confirm, however, that the depiction in chapter one is spot on.

One key element that is throughout the book is mental health. Jane has a brilliant way of writing about mental health, descriptive on what it entailed for her character and its impacts. Her writing is so powerful that even those who would generally be the cause of stigma and anxiety to those suffering from mental health conditions are drawn in and consumed by the story.

It has such a draw in effect throughout the book, you won’t want to put it down. You’ll find yourself losing hours of your day or days depending on how quick you read.

I’ve never come across a psychological thriller quite like this one before. That’s saying a lot as psychological thrillers are my go-to reads. It’s a very different way of writing, a very different way of using the genre of psychological thrillers and taking it one step further.

I don’t like to give out spoilers, so I won’t be going into a lot of detail about what happens in the book, but what I can say is I honestly didn’t put my Kindle down unless it was to sleep or shower. I was hooked from chapter two (chapter one made me sad) right through until the very end.

I’m usually very good at figuring out the twists and turns in books. I’m one of those people who can guess pretty much right away “whodunnit”. However, I have to say there was a lot of twists and turns in this book I just didn’t see coming, at all!

One of the other things I loved about the book was Jane’s way of describing the events as they happened. That’s no doubt why chapter one made me so uncomfortable because I could envision being there just like Natalie was. This is something that, throughout the book, Jane gives you. It’s like you are right there with Natalie, witnessing through her eyes, touching and sensing through her body. That is how you know someone is an incredible writer.

The book is intense, there are sections of the book that will give you goosebumps, make you hold your breath and make you want to skip to the end to see what happens, but at the same time, not want to miss what happens in between.

When I finished the book I genuinely felt the way I did when I finished the Umbrella Academy, I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life without it, lol. I might actually go back and read it again, which is very unusual for me as usually if I love a book I’ll keep it, always intending to re-read it again, otherwise, I donate them. If I didn’t have a list of other books to read for future reviews, I’d definitely be going back to this one to re-read sooner rather than later.
Profile Image for Linda.
193 reviews
May 27, 2021
Spoilers here

This book is very dark and strange. I didn't know where the story was going, are there good guys, bad guys, normalcy, happy endings? Even up to the last page I'm not sure if certain events really happened, or if they were solely the product of a mad woman's imagination. There was not really a happy or redeeming moment in this book, just darkness. I gave it four stars because it was so well written; would have given it five stars but it's not my kind of book. I did not find any closure or real answers in the ending. It was a page turner though!
Profile Image for Helen Lancaster Lancaster.
486 reviews5 followers
June 15, 2019
A very dark book

I enjoyed this book as I like horror and dark books. It certainly kept me entertained in fact it was pretty gruesome at times. It was well written and the story was dare I say unusual. I myself am not much of a meat water i prefer fish and the odd piece of chicken. I wasn't surprised by the ending the poor girl was mad from the beginning as her father and mother and the whole Village. This one will have me thinking about it for a while. Thanks Jane E. James
737 reviews4 followers
August 13, 2019
Creepy and Scary!!

This was, without doubt, the the most frightening horror story I have ever read. What is truth and what is fiction? Just what goes on in the mind of a severely disturbed psychiatric patient? Where do the memories come from and what do they mean? I defy anyone reading this book not to seriously consider becoming a vegetarian or even a vegan. I think I'll be having nightmares for a very long time. This book was an uncomfortable but, absorbing, experience.
Profile Image for Debra McDonald.
83 reviews27 followers
August 9, 2019
It was hard to get into and a struggle to read. I almost put it down and said forget it. But I made myself read it to the end, and I'm glad I did. All I can say is wow! I had no idea. And I can't say anything more without giving away something. So if you are thinking of or trying to get thru this book, I say go for it. You won't be dissapointed. I wsn't!
36 reviews3 followers
November 19, 2019
Absolutely loved this book, gory twisted and some parts were horrifying. But this book kept me enthralled throughout not wanting to put the book down. Poor Natalie in and out of the institution. Even got me confused at one point, was she delirious or imagining it. One thing for sure I wouldn't like to live there.

Well done for an addictive read looking forward to more from this author.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
145 reviews3 followers
May 19, 2019
This is a dark read, quite brutal in parts and definitely not for the squeamish. The story is full of twists and keeps you guessing. The “secret” is quite shocking and you’ll want to keep reading to work it all out. I recommend it to everyone who enjoys their horror with a touch of gore.
Profile Image for angela.
63 reviews2 followers
May 23, 2019

Absolutely amazing book! One of the most surprising endings I have ever read. Once I thought the mystery had been dispelled and that I had all the answers, I discovered another twist that upended everything that I thought I knew.
787 reviews
May 26, 2019
Wow what a read not really knowing whats true and what in'nt who to trust even herself comes to the conclusion at the end but very well written and hard to put down mental health is a def feature how one can be effected .Will def be reading more By Jane !!
39 reviews1 follower
May 27, 2019

A Book as mesmerizing and gripping you from start to finish. I couldn't put this book down. A psychological thriller is exactly what that phrase implies! Read this book, but expect to have your stomach in knots...It's that descriptive. 💜
Profile Image for Pheadra.
620 reviews21 followers
June 9, 2019
Gory. Bloody. Ghastly. I would not describe this read as a psychological thriller. More a tale of horror, cannibalism, animal slaughtering, and suffering. Frankly, I found the story nonsensical and with timelines that jumped so frequently, it was difficult to keep up.
9 reviews
June 15, 2019
Too confusing for me

I cannot keep straight what is real and what is imagination. I find that I grew impatient with not able to understand what really happened even after I finished. Maybe this is the intended result, to keep readers in suspense till the very end.
Profile Image for Eozyucel.
7 reviews
August 30, 2020
It was such a great book! I didn’t want to end up with last chapter of the book. What an amazing story telling! Every chapter was being read as breathless. Description of the characters’ feeling were perfect. While I was reading i thought that they were all alive. Highly recommended...
39 reviews
June 21, 2021

Not for the faint hearted. This book has graphic descriptions of animal slaughter from the very start. It's main theme is cannibalism. But if you have a strong stomach and enjoy a great twist at the end this book is for you. Drip splat drip.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews

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