Title: The Pain Eater
Author: Kyle Muntz
Release date: July 5th, 2022
Big thanks to Kyle for sending me a digital ARC of this book!
I went into this book pretty blind. I’d read the synopsis when he first offered it, but I read a dozen or so books in between and didn’t reread the blurb before diving in when it arrived at the top of my TBR list.
All I can say, is I suggest maybe you do the same thing?! As this one rockets out of the starting blocks and doesn’t hold back from the word go.
I’ll be straight up here – there’s a few things in here that may require some trigger warnings. I received an ARC and didn’t notice any warnings, but that may change for the release of the book. But be aware – a cat dies and characters purposefully hurt themselves and cut themselves (there is a reason for it).
Saying all of that, this book seemingly walks the tightrope wire of straight ahead bleak story and Bizarro story.
What I liked: The story follows two brothers, both who detest their mother, who reconnect/begin to live together after their father dies. The oldest, Steven, moves back into his dad’s house after his death, so that he can take care of and watch over his younger brother, Michael. Additionally, Michaels female friend spends a lot of time at the house. When a stray cat that has been around for some time, dies, it vomits forth a strange little creature, one that seems to eat their grief and pain.
The storytelling in this is both metaphorical but also surface level-straight forward. I think the reader will decide this. They can either take it as a deeper philosophical look at pain and grief and loss, or they can simply read a book about a creature that sucks on people and takes their pain away. It’s a really intriguing way to tell the story.
Additionally, I really liked when we get an unexpected visitor who shares something in common with the brothers and we get a really great lead up to the ending, which worked for me. It was violent and visceral and ultimately telling of how the characters had evolved.
What I didn’t like: I actually hated every character. I know hate is a strong word, but I found nothing redeeming about them and if it wasn’t for the intrigue of the creature, I would’ve dnf’d the book. The way they spoke to each other and interacted was frustrating, as was every interaction with the mother. The one sex scene that takes place became a thorn in my side as then the character believed she was immediately pregnant and it steered away from how the characters normally were.
Why you should buy this: I think if the synopsis grabs you and you’re looking for a story that’ll push you to work to see the layers that need to be unraveled, then definitely dive into this. This was one that I think the Bizarro crowd will definitely dive into and devour, but for the more straightforward horror readers, this may not be a great fit.