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Flesh & Blood
Nick Gifford
Puffin paperback £4.99

review by Gary Couzens

In his nightmares, Matt Guilder wakes up on a beach where there has been a massacre. Bits of bodies are everywhere and the sea is the colour of blood. After his grandfather's funeral, Matt and his mother (but not his father) spend the summer near the sea, close to Matt's grandfather and two girl cousins, one of whom hates Matt. As the summer wears on, Matt discovers a portal into another world, a world of violence and fear, the world he sees in his dreams. It seems that a sensitivity to this other world runs in the family, and Matt has to control his at all costs.
   Following Piggies, Flesh & Blood is a new young-adult horror novel from Nick Gifford (alias: Keith Brooke). Piggies was certainly good, but Flesh & Blood marks an advance on it. Piggies would be a long novella if published for adults, and Flesh & Blood isn't much longer. Piggies was perhaps a little too spare, in retrospect, not quite easily sitting in the niche between short fiction and full-length novel. However, Flesh & Blood does feel like a completed story, without the need for padding that most adult novels seem to require - and which would probably require this story to be bloated to at least twice its length. Also, Piggies' prose was a little too dominated by short sentences, a little too insistently fast-forward. Flesh & Blood has a more relaxed rhythm, while still driving the story forwards. There are some memorable - and quite gory - set-pieces set in 'alternity'. The result is an effective horror story that could well appeal to a wider audience than its targeted one, though anyone too squeamish should beware some parts of it.
Flesh and Blood

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