Tender is the Flesh

TENDER IS THE FLESH – Agustina Bazterrica

Still reeling from the departure of his wife and struggling to maintain a connection with his dying father, Marcos continues to push through his days working in a butchery. However, this isn’t a normal butchery – at least not to you and me. When a virus made animal meat inedible, a solution had to be found.

Marcos, and many others, are breeding humans and stocking store shelves with “special” meat. But when Marcos is gifted his own adult female to raise for slaughter, he commits an unforgivable sin.

This was a tough read. TENDER IS THE FLESH is one of the darkest and most graphic horror novels I’ve ever read. Author Agustina Bazterrica does not relent in her depiction of a world that turned to legalized cannibalism in order to survive. One of the more interesting aspects of the book involved the hiring practices of the plant Marco works in. Those in charge have a careful selection process in how they weed out those who either do not have the stomach for it as well as those who would take too much enjoyment in their work.

While the horror of it all is what will stick with people long after they finish, the book also digs deeply into the trauma that comes with losing a child as well as the complications that arise with caring for a sick parent. Marcos and the relationships in his life were nearly as absorbing as the horrific aspect of his work.

TENDER IS THE FLESH could have easily veered into anti-meat/pro-vegan territory and Bazterrica could have spent her whole time on a soapbox, but I never felt that came across (even though factory farms are likely even more horrific than what’s described in this book). There is a psychological element that made this one stick with me after I finished. Whether it was what makes a human a “human” or how difficult it is to navigate relationships that are beyond repair.

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