First published back in June of 2019, Jack Bantry and Robert Essig’s novel ‘Insatiable’ delivered an over-the-top melee of violence and sexual deviance upon a near-apocalyptic backdrop.

DLS Synopsis:
When she walked into the lab, Megan couldn’t believe what she was seeing.  And upon realising the full horror of what the American woman was doing to her colleague, Dennis, she didn’t hesitate in bringing the heavy fire extinguisher down on the woman’s head.  What she’d been doing to that poor man was unthinkable.  Unbearable.  Stomach-churningly sadistic.  Seeing that woman raping Dennis, then turning on him with such savage and uncontrolled violence.  It was enough to emotionally scar anyone for life.

Megan was in shock not only from what she’d witnessed but also from what she herself had done.  However, when she called the authorities about the matter, the call had worried her even more.  The dispatcher said there was already an officer en route to deal with the incidents.  Incidents!  As in more than one.  Megan was worried.  What if there was another crazed attacker in the building?  Another lunatic working their way through the laboratory, maiming and killing as they went. 

Meanwhile, in the sleepy suburbs of the nearby town, punks Dave and Bobby were having issues of their own.  After playing another storming gig, they’d planned to collapse with a few beers and a smoke back at their place.  Unfortunately, they found a disgruntled cop parked up outside and eyeing up their house.  All of a sudden, the situation went from bad to a fuck tonne worse when their previously quiet street erupted in an explosion of violence.  Before the punks knew what was going on, there were sex-crazed lunatics everywhere, and they were hellbent on sex and murder.

Something pretty fucking strange was going on.  And the lust-fuelled mayhem seemed to be spreading by the minute.  It seems one small scratch or bite is all it takes, and then you’re one of them.  One of the rampant sex fiends.  One of the vicious lunatics.  One of the many…

DLS Review:
Bantry and Essig are no strangers to delivering uncompromising extreme horror.  The pair have co-written similarly gritty titles before.  Their writing styles compliment each other in a harmony of gut-wrenching brutality which pulls absolutely no punches whatsoever.

What we have with ‘Insatiable’ is a tale which combines a gluttony of extreme violence and sexual debauchery in a viral-like outbreak.  In that way it’s not far removed from Herbert’s ‘The Fog’ (1975), Laymon’s ‘One Rainy Night’ (1991) or Garth Ennis’ ‘Crossed’ graphic novel series.  Furthermore, similar to those other tales, Bantry and Essig’s offering also starts edging towards semi-apocalyptic proportions, where nowhere seems safe and absolutely no one can be trusted.

Despite Essig hailing from the US, the tale nevertheless feels very British in origin.  Whether that’s Bantry’s influence with the story, the UK setting, or just the way the dice fell, it’s unclear.  Although as a fellow Brit, I find this no bad thing.  The backdrop and environment are something I can instantly relate to.  It feels close to home, and through that, it’s much more terrifying.

I use the word ‘terrifying’, but if I’m honest, that’s probably not the best choice of descriptor for ‘Insatiable’.  Yes it’s got balls, it hunts, rapes and kills with an unrelenting sexual aggression.  However, those scenes aren’t built up in any way to taunt or scare the reader.  Instead, like with the vast majority of Spaltterpunk offerings, it provokes the reader with its rawness and in some places, some of the very darkest of comedy.

Whilst the concept of the tale isn’t necessarily a ground-breaking one, the character-driven delivery and sheer unpredictable nature of “who will survive this mayhem?” does make it feel fresh.  Although despite the characters being the driving force behind the story, it has to be said, they’re not particularly fleshed-out.  As the reader you’re instantly drawn to siding with the likes of Megan, Bobby and Dave.  However, none of these are given much more than a white-washed personality at best.  Similarly, the secondary characters have little else to them, other than a name and a vague outline of their physical appearance.

This may sound as if the novel is fundamentally flawed.  However, that’s not so.  The lack of palpable characterisation does lessen the impact of the narrative to some degree, there’s nevertheless enough in there to have you glued to the mayhem that’s spiralling out of control.

With a plot centred on sex-crazed maniacs on the loose, you’d probably be expecting a novel spilling over with the most extreme of scenes.  However, that’s not really the case.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a good number of scenes pumped with vile deviancy and hard-hitting violence.  Scenes of rape, of extreme sexual deviancy, and brutal violence.  However, for the most part, these scenes hold off on really plummeting the depths.  There’s no sudden explosion of intricate details to make your stomach churn.  No zeroing in on the physical and mental aspects of each ordeal.  Instead, we’re offered a meat-rich meal of sexual violence which we’re able to swallow down without too much heartburn.

The question is: does ‘Insatiable’ fall short of its goal?  I don’t believe so.  Yes, the extremities are perhaps curbed a tad.  If you’re seeking out another dose of gruesome torture porn, then you’ll probably feel the story is lacking in such delivery.  However, instead what we have is a ferociously paced tale, where the threat feels like it can really come from any angle.  No one is safe in the story.  Characters are killed off all over the shop, keeping you constantly on your toes with where it’s heading next.

Ultimately there’s a shit load to enjoy in this novel.  So much mayhem, so much over-the-top sexually-charged chaos.  However, it’s with the unpretentious, sheer entertainment factor of the novel where it succeeds.  If you’re a bit twisted in the head, if you enjoy your horror rich with pulp and with a side helping of splatter, then you’ll probably get a kick out of this tale.

The novel runs for a total of 142 pages.

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