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Slaughterhouse Prayer by John King

Little Michael Tanner is shocked to discover that the adults are killing animals and that he has been eating their bodies. Having learned the truth from his grandfather on a visit to the countryside, when he returns to London he realises that his friend Sam ‘Piggy’ Norton – whose dream it is to have a farm and lots of pigs – doesn’t know what he will have to do to the creatures he loves. But should Michael tell Piggy and break his heart?

Ten years later and Michael is Mickey Moo, a youth who wants to believe that words and peaceful protest can end the slaughter, but a beating by hunt supporters creates a desire for revenge and his questioning of the animal-rights movement’s dedication to non-violence. Older activists insist that if he responds in kind he will be little better than the men who attacked him. He has a choice to make.

Middle-aged and disillusioned, Tanner reconsiders his life on a long-distance walk that takes him through the same landscapes in which these conflicts began. He is at a crossroads, his mind drawn to the country’s farms and slaughterhouses. It is time to change. He doesn’t want to be unhappy, needs to clear his head and conform, but back in London he is taunted by the advertising of the meat and dairy industries. Some familiar taunts return – smelly pig, dirty cow, chick-chick-chicken.

Slaughterhouse Prayer is a story of innocence and guilt in a world where language is manipulated to disguise and excuse humans’ treatment of the most weak and vulnerable creatures. And those responsible are challenged in a very direct way.

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