‘Everything the Darkness Eats’: a tumultuous reading experience that left me with a lot of thoughts

June 15, 2023

TITLE: Everything the Darkness Eats
AUTHOR: Eric LaRocca
GENRE: Horror
PAGES: 202pg

An insidious darkness threatens to devastate a rural New England village when occult forces are conjured and when bigotry is left unrestrained.

After a recent string of disappearances in a small Connecticut town, a grieving widower with a grim secret is drawn into a dangerous ritual of dark magic by a powerful and mysterious older gentleman named Heart Crowley. Meanwhile, a member of local law enforcement tasked with uncovering the culprit responsible for the bizarre disappearances soon begins to learn of a current of unbridled hatred simmering beneath the guise of the town’s idyllic community—a hatred that will eventually burst and forever change the lives of those who once found peace in the quiet town of Henley’s Edge.

From the Bram Stoker Award®-nominated author of the viral sensation, Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last SpokeEverything the Darkness Eats is a haunting supernatural thriller from a new and exciting voice in genre fiction.

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Let me preface this entire review by saying that I have been a fan of Eric’s since reading Starving Ghosts in Every Thread back in 2020, and I have given every release of theirs 4-5 stars. I generally think of myself as someone who “gets” (and thoroughly enjoys!) Eric’s particular flair for traumatic, bizarre horror and purple prose.

Unfortunately, we all know the saying “there’s an exception to every rule”, and it seems that Everything the Darkness Eats is my exception for Eric’s books, because this book did not work for me on multiple levels.

First, the biggest issue I had was the writing. The narrative voice was so heavy on metaphors and similes that it became distracting. I found myself re-reading paragraphs because my attention was continuously being snagged by lengthy similes, sometimes back-to-back with multiple in the span of just a few sentences.

Second, the split plot lines became frustrating for me. Everything the Darkness Eats follows two unrelated main characters, Ghost and Malik, and their stories have nothing in common until the last few pages. Even when the story all came together, it felt unnatural to me and I still found myself wishing that these had been two entirely separate novellas instead of one combined book.

Third, while I have no issue at all with queer trauma in horror, I do have a problem with sexual assault being handled poorly: specifically, a rape victim – in the middle of a graphic rape scene – thinking of his attacker as “his god”, and then later empathizing with his rapist and viewing the man as attractive. I won’t harp on about this one too much because I know everyone reacts to assault differently, but as a survivor, I was immensely uncomfortable with this depiction.

Fourth, the ableism regarding a blind child made me mad every single time she was mentioned. Whether she was on the page or being mentioned by another character, it was a constant barrage of comments about how pitiful and helpless she was, or what a burden it was for her mother to raise her, and so on.

And finally, there were many moments where the suspension of disbelief was too much of a stretch for me to accomplish. A little blind girl wandering off on her own all the time, a mother instantly falling for the man who (very creepily) plays with her disabled daughter at the hospital, a man stopping in the middle of a ritual sacrifice to answer the doorbell… the list goes on.

Truly, I’m heartbroken writing this review. It pains me to leave a scathing review for a hyped new release from an author I love with my whole heart, but I can’t help feeling like this book needed much more editing work and to be split into two smaller pieces. If that had been the case, the base storylines had potential and could have been just as great as everything else I’ve read from Eric, but the end result here didn’t work for me in any way.

I still love Eric’s books and will excitedly read their next release because this is only one miss for me after a long line of hits, but I won’t be recommending Everything the Darkness Eats and would instead strongly encourage you to pick up any other title from this author.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

content warnings →
WARNINGS (click to expand):

homophobia (including slur usage), graphic rape, graphic abuse, violence, gore, murder, ritual sacrifice, religious bigotry, ableism, home invasion, AIDS, terminal illness, Islamophobia, grief, loss of an infant

representation →

Malik is gay and Muslim, Brett is gay, Ghost is bisexual and disabled (walks with a cane), Heart is gay, Piper is blind


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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. This is a very thoughtful review, Destiny, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m wondering since this is the author’s first novel, if they didn’t struggle a bit with the longer format.

      1. Thank you, Tammy! I wondered the same, especially with all of the metaphors and similes – there’s a part of me that couldn’t help but wonder if they were overlooked in editing to keep the length, since it had been hyped so much as a novel. It would’ve benefited tremendously, IMO, from being edited down to a 120-150pg novella, or even split into two short stories. 🙁

    1. I haven’t read Eric’s work yet but like Tammy said this is a very thoughtful review. I should probably start with one of his other works, I think. I have at least one of them around here somewhere.

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