The Pain Eater is the story of two brothers from Michigan reunited after the death of their father. They’ve never been close, but now they have to live together―and it gets more difficult when one discovers a strange creature, vomited from the body of a dead cat. A creature that eats human pain. It feels good: too good. Soon he wants to hurt himself more, just so the pain can be taken away. But the more the creature becomes a part of his life, the more he damages everything around him. Some wounds are too deep to ever heal.
A thank you to the author for offering an early review copy of his book – and an apology cause I’m ridiculously overdue in writing this!! This does in no way impact my thoughts on this novel.
Hello again dear reader or listener, I hope you’re enjoying the last hints of summer as I am. However, spooky season is slowly approaching so why not look at a horror novel?
Let’s go for some trigger warnings first: this is not a light novel, presenting some body horror, gore, self-harm, and mentions of emotional/physical abuse.
It’s been so long since I last got to have some horror in my reading and, while ultimately this particular novel was not the sub-genre of it that I tend to enjoy, it was still very well written and if psychological/existential horror mixed in with a weird cat-that-is-not-a-cat kind of monster, is the type of read you think you’d enjoy, I’d say give this a go.
Muntz excelled in setting up atmosphere as well as rendering that inescapable awkwardness and bitterness that is ever present in tense interactions between family members that can hardly coexist, but are forced together because of circumstance. None of the protagonists, or even the side characters for that matter, are particularly likable, and this is not the kind of story where you’ll look for someone to root for. They each self sabotage in someway and they can’t help wanting more of that the pain eater can offer. You could say it’s a vicious cycle of cause and effect with characters who don’t really know how to exist in the world.
Muntz puts everything out in the open, with no fear of revealing the plain unpleasantness of a given situation or thought. This makes for interesting character dynamics or studies in psychology, but it might not be the most enjoyable kind of read for a lot of people. Especially given the weight of the subject matter, supernatural bits aside.
Put another way, this book is what you get if you throw in a bowl a hint of King’s Pet Sematary (for the supernatural shenanigans), a pinch of Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and a sprinkle of Camus’ The Stranger (both for the stream of consciousness type of narration and existential dread/confusion), and finally a dash of Junji Ito (for the remaining horror and body horror elements, sense of the uncanny and unsettling circumstances). Stir and serve on a platter of fever dream and you’re good to go!
Until next time,
Eleni A. E.