Again in 2017, I had the pleasure of being on the Shadow Judges Panel for the PFD Sunday Occasions Younger Author of the 12 months with Dane. (Extra right here and right here). Dane’s personal web site could be discovered right here. He writes primarily in horror/thriller/thriller genres, however has written non-fiction, poetry and is a musician too. He kindly despatched me a duplicate of his 2020 horror novel Meat a while in the past, my plans have been to evaluate it for RIP that 12 months, however I lastly received round to studying it this 12 months – apologies Dane for the delay!
I ought to point out that Dane is a vegetarian, and researching manufacturing facility farming for this horror novel strengthened his resolve in that path and he’s now a vegan. Whereas not being preachy about it, he does embody an inventory of additional studying and a few interviews with numerous consultants about novel animal viruses and manufacturing facility farming on the finish of the novel. I must also add that I’m nonetheless a meat-eater, however I usually purchase higher high quality, higher reared and better welfare meat today. Anyway… to the guide!
Vet Tom Copeland is beginning a brand new job, not by alternative. He was fired from his apply for pilfering the ket (beneath menace from another person), he misplaced his dwelling and his household within the course of. However he was in a position to get the job at Sunnyvale with no questions requested. Boss John MacDonald proudly reveals him across the manufacturing facility farm, with it’s double safety cordon throughout, which homes round 100,000 animals – chickens, pigs, cows, sheep. Copeland’s job is to maintain the animals wholesome to allow them to be became meat, with no fuss, no touch upon the terrible situations. Someday he’s known as to the pig part, the place the employees have discovered a lifeless one. Even after simply a few hours, the pig is beginning to decompose, however the small chew marks on it are clear.
… “It means we don’t have a case of cannibalism on our fingers, however we do have one thing on the market that received just a little peckish and determined to take a pig down. […] It seems to be virtually just like the enamel of a rodent,” Copeland murmured. “A mouse, maybe. Or a rat.”
“What sort of a rat can kill a pig?” Fields requested. It was a rhetorical query, but it surely received a solution.
“The Rat King,” Gowan mentioned. He was a easy man with a relaxed, dreamy voice, however he’d been working on the complicated ever because it had opened and he had a status amongst the employees as a Sunnyvale Yoda, besides with a Coventry accent and no main abilities.
Forty pages later, we meet the creature that lives beneath the plant.
It had twenty-six eyes and fifty-two paws, a whole bunch of abcessed enamel and 13 brains, all decided to do issues their very own manner. The creature was blind and frightened, but it surely was additionally offended, hungry and out for blood.
That is simply the beginning of issues in fact. Animals begin to exhibit harmful behaviours and Copeland can solely take samples to attempt to uncover what’s taking place – clearly MacDonald wants it stored quiet, then one of many pig employees is attacked and hospitalised. The chickens are misbehaving. This all coincides with the arrival of a authorities inspector, and an animal rights protestor managing to get into the location. Then the cows go mad, and escape their pens and the employees should herd themselves within the admin constructing, barricading themselves in. The inspector in the meantime calls within the Military, as it’s apparent that one thing is very incorrect and mustn’t be allowed to flee.
We transfer into a brand new section of the novel, with the employees beneath siege from the animals, with dwindling provides, restricted to the higher flooring of the constructing. They get one drop of provides from the military, however in any other case they’re on their very own. It’s a warfare of attrition – some courageous souls attempt to make it out of the compound with uniformly deadly outcomes, others get turned upon by their colleagues. However others get in poor health and develop into zombies needing drastic motion to cease, no matter has pushed the animals mad can switch to people too.
The place will all of it finish? Who will survive, if any? I couldn’t presumably say extra.
Again in 2012, I learn a guide about zombie cows escaping from an abattoir – Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan, which was very a lot a comedy. Meat is slightly extra critical, though not and not using a sense of humour – you want one the place zombies are involved. The horror comes on two fronts, firstly there’s the standard people vs zombies and the ‘Rat King’ creature, however the actual horrors are to be discovered within the descriptions of manufacturing facility farming, of the inhumane situations (and unlawful by UK requirements) that the animals are stored in at Sunnyvale.
With Copeland as the primary protagonist, Cobain populates Sunnyvale with fascinating supporting characters, notably John MacDonald and his niece Jill, Scottish safety boss ‘Massive Jim’ Benton, and never forgetting Harry Yorke, the protestor. As attrition takes its toll on the survivors, we even begin to really feel sorry for the boss of this terrible place – properly just a bit, for just a bit whereas. Jill, nevertheless, will present she’s made from stronger stuff.
I do get pleasure from a superb zombie novel, and this has the added high quality of creating your take into consideration the meat you do eat (if any). Thanks Dane, it’s nice.
Supply: Assessment copy – Thanks! Paperback, 447 pages incl appendices. BUY at Amazon under by way of my affiliate hyperlink: