Everything the Darkness Eats

Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric LaRocca

Set in a rural New England town, Everything the Darkness Eats blends the allure of supernatural forces alongside the shock of bigotry. Ghost is haunted by a small spirit of unknown origin that feeds off of his despair. Malik struggles to find acceptance after moving to the area to help investigate a string of disappearances. And Heart is searching for an assistant to help him unlock the power of a god who is trapped inside his basement.

Tensions rise and shocks accumulate in his dreadful novel where nothing is quite as it seems.

This is the first queer horror novel I’ve read. I love horror. I think a lot more can be explored with characters, relationships, and situations in the horror genre than anywhere else, because, in everyday life, people are less like themselves. Between work expectations, family obligations, and the performative nature of social media, everyone wears masks. In horror, masks are stripped away, base desires and instincts are the primary focus, and in exploring the hardships the characters face, we explore ourselves.

Everything the Darkness Eats puts a spotlight on grief and loss, the isolating fear caused by discrimination, and the difficulty of continuing on after facing those events.

Likes / Dislilkes

I love the evocative writing style in this book. People, places, and passing thoughts, are described in impactful ways. The writing is deliberate and beautiful.

The thing was, Ghost had felt a kinship with Piper the moment he saw her. They were both different—siblings of a similar sorrow. The only difference was Piper’s affliction greeted you the moment you laid eyes upon her. For Ghost, you had to look a little harder to see the brokenness dwelling inside him. Regardless, it was still there and showed no signs of abandoning him yet.

It is also casually devastating at times. More than once I was taken aback and the air punched out of me because of how deeply some passages resonated with me.

It wasn’t long before his thoughts turned to poor, sweet Piper—the small child with the broken arm and the seahorse balloon he had met so briefly. He thought of her alone, scared, bewildered—wondering why her mother had left her and perhaps coming to the horrible realization that her mother had abandoned her because she was a hideous incurable monster. Ghost winced, tears beading in the corners of his eyes when he thought of Piper and how she must have suddenly realized that an earth-bound God—a mother—can abandon their creation after smearing them upon the face of the world.

There is a rape scene in the book. I used to work with sexually exploited women and girls, and as a result sexual assaults are a sensitive subject to me. I’ve found that this type of violation is more often than not a meaningless plot device that’s only purpose is to shock the reader / viewer / audience. That said, the assault depicted in Everything the Darkness Eats, if removed, would actually be difficult to replace. Unfortunately, the level of harassment and assault faced by Malik and his husband very closely mimic the real life fears and experiences of queer people simply trying to live their lives in the real world.

…After all, Malik and Brett had quite literally begged, borrowed, and stolen to purchase a home in Henley’s Edge. That’s exactly what it was always intended to be—a home. It had been their refuge, their sanctuary. It was none of those things any longer, and Malik detested to admit that miserable fact—holding a small funeral for their comfort and safety in the privacy of his mind.

Too Much / Not Enough

I don’t think there’s too much of anything… The novel is 221 pages. It’s short, but nothing drags on, and likewise, no words are wasted. It’s well-paced, and intriguing.

However, there’s not enough magic!

The book opens dark and bloody. Heart is leading an excavation and finally uncovers what he’s been looking for. Upon finding it, he kills everyone by blowing up their heads with the power of his mind. This is the opening scene in the Prologue. Its three pages, and its the most power shown throughout the entire novel.

Regardless of the lack of magic, the book is still mysterious and thought provoking.

Rating Recommendation

I’ve seen some reviewers who complain about the ending of the book because of deus ex machina. However, I disagree that it’s deus ex machina at all. “God” is in Heart’s basement. If “God” is part of the plot and doesn’t get called upon in the narrative, the ending would be dissatisfying.

As a long-time horror fan, its rare that something gets under my skin. This book is dreadful and discomforting. It lends focus to real safety concerns of queer people, and this consideration adds depth and believability to the supernatural components.

Loved it!

Rating: 4 out of 5.