Kimberly has a unique addiction. Eating spiders is both her only pleasure and destroying her from the inside out. Will she be able to see her way through before it drives her into an early grave?
Despite what common sense tells us, we’re all haunted and horrified by the very obvious myth of “We swallow an average of nine spiders per year in our sleep,” yes? Well, welcome to your worst nightmare. “Black Widow Blues,” by Andrew Adams is an unputdownable, pocket-rocket novelette that simply must be devoured in a single sitting. For the hour or so you’re caught up in Adams’ web of addiction, grief and revenge, you’ll feel icky, sticky, and put off of your dinner- but amongst the revulsion and discomfort is a bizarre allure and sense of fun. Thank you Andrew for sending this one my way, it comes out on March 22nd 2024.
Following the sudden death of her beloved husband Alexander, Kimberly has fallen into a dark pit of addiction, that she can’t seem to crawl out of. Kimberly doesn’t drink, and hasn’t touched drugs or even thought about gambling.
Kimberly is addicted to eating spiders.
She’s attending support sessions for eating disorders, and is fully aware that she has a problem, but now Alexander is gone, indulging her addiction is the only thing that brings her joy. She wants nothing more than to consume the deadliest of them all, “The Black Widow,” and is determined that doing so will stop her addiction (one way or another). The clock is ticking… can she untangle herself from this bizarre habit, or will it swallow her up.
Now, arachnophagy (fancy talk for eating spiders) is a very real thing, and fried spiders are actually a regional snack in Cambodia. Kimberly’s condition however, is much more sinister- a self-inflicted punishment. She finds dead spiders to be almost as offensive as “human food,” and enjoys the feeling- and sorry if this grosses you out as much as it does me- of the insect moving around inside her mouth and stomach.
I’d describe this as a Goosebumps for adults, and you’ll be pleased to know it’s the first in an upcoming collection: Symposium of the Reaper. As you’d imagine, “Black Widow Blues,” definitely echoes Stein’s signature campy and repulsive oeuvre, but the narrative is also interwoven with some surprisingly sophisticated and interesting commentary on guilt and grief. I won’t go too in-depth as to avoid spoiling the plot twist at the end, just be aware that there’s real intent and purpose amidst the chaos.
That being said, the prose fell kind of flat for me. Don’t get me wrong, Adams writes with enough confidence and clarity to convey what is a very unique and challenging plot. His narrative voice is easy to understand, and definitely keeps you turning the pages. A comparison that I would make based off of plot and length is “To be Devoured,” by Sara Tantlinger, however, what separates the two is Tantlinger’s poetic (borderline orgasmic) prose. Whilst there’s nothing objectively wrong with the writing, there’s nothing that really separates it from the ordinary either. I completely appreciate that lots of readers prefer straight-forward story-telling, so if you disliked how “To Be Devoured,” was written, but loved the concept, then definitely pick this one up.
The final chapter is absolutely the best part, and caught me off guard for sure.
In conclusion, Andrew Adams and the truly grotesque “Black Widow Blues,” emerges as a catalyst for arachnophobia and a justification for bug spray. Through Kimberly’s eerie fixation on our eight-legged friends, and the looming spectre of the deadly black widow, Andrew spins a narrative as compelling as it is unsettling. Prepare to be ensnared in the gripping story of “Black Widow Blues,” and see if you can escape the web of morbid curiosity Adams weaves.