Animals Eat Each Other by Elle Nash
Published by 404 Ink, 2019
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
In Elle Nash’s unflinching debut, we follow a young woman on a downwards spiral of self-destruction as she embarks on a three-way relationship with an established couple. As the dynamic becomes more complex and involved, and the line between the physical and the emotional begins to blur, she loses her grip on her sense of self, consumed by her need for their approval.
Our protagonist remains unnamed throughout, aside from the ominous moniker given to her by her new sexual partners – Lilith. This reflects the sense of distance they wish to maintain, but also her own lack of identity and meaning, as she uses her body to seek validation in all the wrong places. Beyond her increasing reliance on alcohol and drugs, the book goes on to examine the perils of obsession and addiction. With her own self-loathing becoming more and more apparent, it seems that she craves the pain both physical and emotional that comes from being used and abused, as though degrading herself is a form of punishment, or a distraction from the void inside herself.
There are undoubtedly those who will feel our flawed heroine’s behaviour and frankness dip into the vulgar, and as such, it’s the kind of read I’d be hesitant to recommend widely, despite my appreciation for its raw, striking, and perceptive exploration of its themes. The stripped-down prose and entirely unsentimental approach to her mental state really do pack a punch, however. The book itself has an almost hazy, claustrophobic quality, perfect given the subject matter. And though I read it across a few sittings, it’s a book I think would benefit from submitting yourself to entirely.
Featuring one of the most instantly engrossing openings I’ve ever read, and a perfectly pitched ending, this is a book guaranteed to split opinion, but an undoubted gem when it’s in the right hands.
If you’d like to give Animals Eat Each Other a go, you can pick up a copy from Book Depository by clicking here. If you’ve already read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!