Author: Evelyn Esrig
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 10/21/2015
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
Genre: Drama, Gay Fiction
Bartender Lukas Schueller’s life in Berlin falls apart when his boyfriend, Bernhard, disappears without a trace. A year later Lukas is finally picking up the pieces of his life. He’s back on track with his Divinity studies and has found love again in Kristoph, a science professor at his University.
Things are looking up until the shocking truth about his former lover’s disappearance comes to light: Bernhard was killed and cannibalized by a man he met on the Internet. Even more horrifying, he volunteered for it. When Lukas receives graphic proof of this, he is haunted by grotesque dreams and unbearable heartbreak.
As he begins to wade into the mystery of why someone would choose to be eaten by someone else, he comes face to face with what it means to confront his own fears and must try to build a new life with Kristoph from the ashes of the old.
A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.
With most books I wait a day or two before writing a review so I can let the story ruminate in my head. In this case I’m writing it almost immediately. Why? Because I want to get this story out of my head.
I think there are some readers who will absolutely love this novella but I am not one of them. The same thing that attracted me to the story is what ultimately ruined it for me—cannibalism.
Yes, that’s right. Cannibalism.
Now while it was the flesh-eating that made me want to read the story I didn’t expect there to be quite so much description of the act. And there is. Lots and lots of words devoted to the act of one man consuming another.
This book is essentially about moving on. Specifically, Lukas trying to move on after his boyfriend Bernhard disappears without a trace. A year after the disappearance Lukas is beginning to get over it when a cop informs him of the truth. Not only was Bernhard killed and eaten by a cannibal but he also wanted it to happen.
Now of course this throws Lukas’s life way off course. Understandable, right. But the way he goes after resolution…let’s just say I did not get where he was coming from.
First of all, there’s a video tape of Bernhard with the killer, Dietrich. It begins before the consumption but continues into it. And Lukas chooses to watch it. That’s when he get this…
“Close to you,” Bernhard mumbles, dragging his fingers through the mess of his blood in Dietrich’s pale beard. “Cut a piece?” he slurs. “It doesn’t hurt that bad. We could share.”
And they do. With a careful precision, Dietrich cuts a piece off Bernhard’s flank with an incredibly sharp knife, cooks it and together they eat it as Bernhard bleeds.
The video isn’t the only time there’s fairly vivid descriptions of the cannibalism. Lukas also has visions involving him, Bernhard and Dietrich. Plus, Lukas visits Dietrich searching for final closure where the killer talks even more about eating Bernhard.
I guess I should’ve expected it considering it was a Bittersweet Dreams title. I was prepared for an unhappy ending, not an almost lovingly written tale of flesh eating.
There were a few other things that added to my dislike of the story. First of all it’s written in present tense and the POV is not deep at all. It barely breaks the surface and I felt more like I was watching a movie from afar than in a character’s head.
There’s also no real reason given why Bernhard volunteered for the deed. The author notes at the end of the book that it was based on a true story. I’m sure IRL there wasn’t a reason either but this is fiction not real life. I would’ve preferred some kind of explanation.
Like I said in the beginning, I’m sure lots of people will like it. They may even love it for the exact same reasons I didn’t enjoy it.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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