Updated: Oct 5, 2022
If I’m not mistaken, this is the debut novel from Laura Kat Young. I wasn’t sure what I was going to read when jumping into this, or even if it was going to hold my attention.
Did it hold my attention? Yes. Yes it did. And there are elements in here that don’t normally hold my attention. For example, there is a romantic sub-plot happening, with suspense.
We can get to that a little later. Here we travel to a town named Settlement Five. This town gave me sort of a dystopian feel. I didn’t sense too much happy in this town. And really the motto for this town could very well be “An Eye for an Eye.”
When the people of Settlement Five do the wrong thing, they get punished. We’re not talking about jail time. We are talking about atonements. Atonements that involve maybe losing a finger, or a hand, or being shocked, or other sorts of punishment, carried out by “The Butcher.”
No one by the way is exempt from punishment. And that little tidbit is crucial to the story.
Our main character, Lady Mae knows she will take over being The Butcher eventually. Right now her mother Winona is The Butcher. And the whole town knows this, and they hate this family because of her mother's “job.”
We run into a situation where The Butcher refuses to carry out a certain atonement, and we find Lady Mae now taking over the job, if you can call it a job, or maybe being The Butcher is an actual punishment. We have Lady Mae constantly fighting with the stress and inner turmoil that comes along with the job. And at parts her conscience catches up to her. We have an encounter where she has to make a big decision. We will keep it there to not give too much away.
This story kept me pretty involved, and I don’t think I expected that to happen. This is one of those chances I took and it paid off. There is a lot packed in this novel. A lot of different emotions. It has the drama. It has the suspense. It has the thrills. It has the cruelty and viciousness in the form of people’s body parts being butchered. With some pretty graphic descriptions, and I know a lot of you like that. And yes Like I said earlier, it has a romantic sub-plot that isn’t too in-your-face being all kissy kissy. It's there, and subtle at times. That part also carries a lot of suspense in it.
I’m a fan of dark things, so I think that is why I got wrapped up in this story so easily. It’s the right amount of oddness and weirdness. All of the broken rules and broken laws go to trial automatically. And every time we go to trial, you get a feeling someone committed murder.
The writer did a magnificent job creating this town. I think it felt a little dystopian. I got the feeling it was always cloudy, and damp. I didn’t however care too much for the speech. The way the characters talk. I’m not sure if this was just a language the writer made up. But the characters used short sentences and talked in ways we would normally correct a young person who doesn’t know the right grammar. I could have missed the meaning or reason behind this. It doesn’t take anything away from the story though.
This one will have you holding your breath at times in anticipation of what’s next. It has the right amount of edginess and grittiness to keep you glued. And expect to be uncomfortable at times. I probably would have liked a little more character development, but still if this is a debut from Laura Kat Young, it’s pretty remarkable.
The Butcher is a journey into a psychologically disturbing dystopian world, full of different smells of blood and different sounds of bones cracking and breaking. It’s a battle between love and commitment for our main protagonist. It’s a coming-of-age story for someone who knows their future is bleak because of the job they are required to do. It has a great mix of rawness and love and despair and survival. The Butcher is a fast-paced page turner that will have you cheering for Lady Mae until the very end.
Title: The Butcher
Author: Laura Kat Young
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: September 27, 2022
Format Reviewed: eBook