If there ever was a book I would recommend for those heartbroken individuals who also love the grotesque side of horror, I Will Rot Without You by Danger Slater would be my top choice.
The novel is centred around Ernie, a miserable young man whose main anguish comes from his recent break up with a woman called Gretchen, he also has to take the bullying of his angry and overall awful landlord, hundreds of cockroaches infest his disgusting apartment, a strange looking mould in his bathroom seems to have a life of its own, and then there’s Dee. His cute and lovely neighbour. There could be something between them, but then Dee also has her own fucked up problems, mainly her obsessive boyfriend who has sewn pieces of himself into her skin so he’ll always be there with her.
A horrible storm is also slowing coming for them all. Basically, a recipe for a pretty messed up story; of course I ended up liking it.
Danger Slater uses disgusting and grotesque visuals to make a point, we get to see the actual decay of someone who was involved in a toxic relationship and can’t let go of his ex-partner’s memories.
We have Ernie, who is no longer in that said relationship – but not by his choice. The state of his apartment reveals that consequence in its filthy environment, when Gretchen left he stopped taking care of himself, not seeing the point in moving on and getting better because he just couldn’t forget her. In fact, Gretchen was the one that kept all things in place, cleaned, bought food, etc. Ernie was dependent on Gretchen. Even if that relationship ended up destroying them both in the end, he didn’t care, he loved her, and would have preferred to stay in the sinking boat than venture out to perhaps find a new ship that didn’t have any holes in it.
A nice counterpart is Dee, who is oblivious to the monstrous effect her current boyfriend has on her. His obsessive and controlling behaviour is best shown in the badly stitched up bodily parts all around her body, a situation in which Dee sees no problem with and even replies to Ernie’s concerned question of why with: “Because he loves me.”
It’s this way thatI Will Rot Without You offers an exploration to the dark side of love and what it does to the many of us that are not so lucky at it. The question whether our destruction is an inevitable course in all romantic relationships an enquiry that I think will leave everyone with different answers, a nostalgic dread perhaps strong in its replies though.
However, this novel is slow at some parts, and if you’re squeamish about repulsive scenarios and situations I would advise to seat this one out. But to everyone else out there who has a tough stomach and loves reading fucked up love stories, yes, I Will Rot Without You will surely make you feel right at home.
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