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The Dark Triad #1


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Christopher Dour’s life was terrible before he was kidnapped.

He spent too much time studying the Providence Butcher's victims and not enough talking to living people. He was erotically obsessed with the idea of murdering Dr. Ivan Skinner, his medical school advisor. It was only a matter of time before he killed someone, possibly himself—but the Providence Butcher had other ideas. After all, the first time should be special, and Christopher was going about it all wrong.

Now those life-or-death decisions are out of his hands. He's breaking. What's worse, Chris has a lot in common with the Butcher. Nobody else has truly cared about him before. When he's not being tortured, he's being cherished. If Stockholm syndrome feels like love, then in practice, what’s the difference?

Chris can’t maintain his dignity, but can still cling to his shattered moral compass. Or he can let go, submit, and become the unspeakable. At least then he wouldn’t be alone.

Prepare to become an accomplice. Claustrophilia draws you in, ties you up, and asks some uncomfortable questions: are there taboos you'd never break, no matter how far you were pushed? Is it better to be tortured or ignored?

More pressing: if you had to choose, which limb could you live without?

336 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 14, 2018

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About the author

Ezra Blake

3 books78 followers
Ezra Blake was born in the American south, attended university abroad, and is not putting his degree to good use. He has been disgusting since before he could pronounce the word.

Aside from writing, his interests include fine art, travel, psychedelic medicine, and mental health advocacy.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 127 reviews
Profile Image for Shile (Hazard's Version) on-hiatus.
1,106 reviews838 followers
November 22, 2018
Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Kennedy. What the fuck did i just read? This book! This book! Is a DEPRAVED masterpiece. There is depraved and then there is DEPRAVED. I thought I have read it all but clearly I haven’t. This one tops them all. Moony and Xia thanks for holding my hand through this very dark journey.


5 stars for the writing

Abusive relationships, blood, corpses/necrophilia, cannibalism, claustrophobia, death, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug use, forced captivity, graphic sex, kidnapping, rape, suicide (attempted), torture, violence, watersports/urine

You see these warnings, please before you read this book, be sure! and consider them because they appear on page, descriptive and intimately.

The Characters

Ivan/Teacher and Chris/Student. These two characters are both psychopaths. They feed off each other. They love killing people and eating human flesh, These characters are complex, depraved and just nasty, but for some unknown weird reasons, I enjoyed reading about these two characters. Ivan is cold and shows no remorse; Chris on the other hand, shows some remorse towards the victims of their despicable acts. Chris and Ivan pulled me into the story, they are very well developed characters, you can’t help but want to know how these two end up.

The Writing

Hands down, Ezra Blake is an excellent author. He has the ability to capture the reader with his words. I was transported to another universe where depravity is the norm and was convinced to stay. The story is told in 3 parts. The first part is the past, the 2nd part present and the third part alternates between the present and the past and it all comes together in the end. This is so well done. This book excels in writing, it flows from the first chapter to the last chapter. I couldn’t stop reading. What makes this story even more special is that, it is told from the POV of two psychos. We get into the minds of two criminals who are different but work well together that they become one. I know it is very wrong that it becomes right. I don't know if that makes sense.

This depraved book pushed my limits, I now know my threshold. It is horror, not your typical horror, it crosses all your horror boundaries, it needs to be read on an empty stomach, I will not look at meat the same way again. Aorta has a whole new function. And for some weird depraved reasons, I will read every depraved book Ezra writes as long as he maintains his authenticity. I am officially a Stan.

Dinner is served.


Today's special is Liver, fava beans, and a nice chianti with a side piece of a loving innocent heart as dessert.


I received a free copy of this book from the author via the DBML program, in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Moony Eliver.
309 reviews165 followers
May 12, 2019
Look... I’m not here to try to convince you to read this, OK? If you’re not at least a little curious about depravity, this book’s not for you. So let me just get that out of the way up front.

But don’t make the mistake of reducing this thoughtful, complex, ingenious story to its list of content warnings. It’s not only insane, it’s insanely well-written.

I know that not everyone can (or wants to) do this, but I have the ability to completely sink into a wide range of NMK shit when it’s presented to me in an exquisitely constructed package. I can root for evil, get turned on by depravity, and feel sorry for monsters. I LOVE when amazing (and rare) writing does that to me.

If you do too, you’ll lose yourself in this one and might even forget that you used to think these things were utterly disgusting.

Well, no. You’ll still think they're disgusting. But somehow, in the context of this story, they’ll work.

I’ve been wondering whether to write about what I found myself accepting, but then I would just want to tack on a thousand disclaimers and explanations and end up feeling really self-conscious. Here’s the thing: I was just as nauseated as each of you were when reading the list of warnings, but then... I saw an opportunity for the book to try to sell me on these things.

C’mon, writing — make me buy it, make me feel it.

When an author can do this, it’s as brilliant as an actor making me bawl in public, as inspired as a chef making me devour fennel, as fascinating as the right companionship making me have a blast at a kid’s birthday party.

It’s art. At its most compelling.

So if you want a journey that might start with gagging and sweating, but take you to cackling and squealing, and leave you gasping and sighing, don’t hesitate. This one’s a gem.

**I requested and was given a free copy of this book from the author via the DBML program. But then I bought it, full price, so that should say something.**
Profile Image for Beasts & Villains.
647 reviews501 followers
January 24, 2022


Claustrophilia (The Dark Triad Book 1):

Rating: 4.5


👨🏼‍🦰👹🩸Hello lovelies! I hope all is well💋🩸🥩🩸💋! As for me & how this book went: I do not have the perfect words to express just how FUCKED~FUCKED~FUCKED UPPED THIS BOOK WAS!!! This being my first time reading any books by Ezra Blake & already going into this book knowing it would be a horror heavy one, how I was thrown down the monstrous hole even further the more I read! As said above, THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST HORRIFYING~SCARIEST BOOKS I HAVE PERSONALLY READ THUS FAR!!! I have read my fair share as of last year and this year, so for me saying this book is Number 1 right now? Speaks on how SERIOUS I AM ABOUT THESE WARNINGS!!! Having said that now, I am going to move on to explain some of the content within this book if you are still thinking of trying this out! {Recommendation: Play “Ave Maria” while reading this for protection😇✝️😇✝️😇!!!}. Now ⬇️⬇️⬇️:🩸👹👨🏼‍🦰


👨🏼‍🦰👹🩸Chris Dour🧔🏼 {😱🩸Younger~Brown University medical student~Pathologist assistant~Victim~Aspiring murder & necrophiliac🩸😱} appears on the outside your average man going through the motions of work & school life. Yet, he harbors a much, much, much sicker & darker side that nobody else knows about. That is until Dr. Ivan Skinner👨🏼‍🦰 {👹👔Older~Academic Adviser~Doctor~Wealthy~Devil/Monster👔👹} comes along as the wealthy~charismatic~devil in a 3 piece suit to lure Chris into his 😈🕸🥩web of pure evil🥩🕸😈. With Chris not only finding out the true nature of Ivan’s cruelty & evil, he also discovers a similar evil ready to burst out of his chest to cause its own form of 😈🩸🥩chaos & bloodshed.🥩🩸😈 Even if he is nothing but Ivan’s puppet 100% and lives only for him, will they find a kindredness with their hellish love for violence~torture~murder~cannibalism~and necrophilia? Paving their own 🔥🔥🔥Hell on earth🔥🔥🔥?🩸👹👨🏼‍🦰


👨🏼‍🦰👹🩸I won’t say much here since one: I am still100% shocked by any words to describe how fucked up this book was & to not give away all that happens within this book. I will say though that Blake: knew his stuff not only with the horror & eroticism of this book, but concerning the medical knowledge & mental health, they were done very well here👏🏾! I will also say just to provide an example of what you will encounter within this book if you choose to read it ☠️🪦your own funeral🪦☠️ : {👹🥩👁eating of live flesh, 100% non~con & EXTREME ABUSE~TORTURE, severing of bodily parts such as eyeballs and MUCH~MUCH~MUCH~MUCH~MUCH~MORE👁🥩👹!!!}. Was Ivan 👨🏼‍🦰👹pure evil 100%👹👨🏼‍🦰? Hell to the fucking yes!!! Did I feel 🫀💥💥heart~decimation💥💥🫀 for what Chris & the other victims went through? Abso~fucking~lutely!!! Did I love the evilness and hellish hotness of the book despite how it deserves nothing but 24/7 dousing of Holy Water & Prayers of exorcism? Hell yes once more!!! So there. I said just a bit on the horrors & evils you will face within this book if you do decide to read this! Either through bravery or foolhardiness. To Mr. Blake though, You truly horrified me with what happened within this book no doubt at all! Yet, loved it to where I have to read book 2 for more!!! Superb job on this story Sir!!!🩸👹👨🏼‍🦰


👨🏼‍🦰👹🩸One of the biggest issues I had with this book was the sheer amount of confusion between who was talking & what time frame Chris and Ivan were in at the moment. In the beginning of the book, I was very confused on whether Chris was the Providence Butcher with his love for murder & necrophilia or if he was the victim. It is explained more while reading along, but the confusion was high and left me with many questions concerning portions of the book. Especially the flashbacks I would assume Chris was having when he was recounting his time with the Providence Butcher. There was no clear shift of who was talking and was only apparent by contextual clues. Again, it is explained later on {yet too late in my opinion}, yet still, needed to be clear early on to exhibit clarity while reading. Other than improvement upon transitioning of scenes/timeframes, this book was 👺😱🥩HORRIFYING & SCREAM INDUCING YET LOVELY AS WELL IN IT’S EVILNESS🥩😱👺!!!🩸👹👨🏼‍🦰


👨🏼‍🦰👹🩸So overall, 👺🥩☠️🥩👺THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST FUCKED UP BOOK I HAVE EVER READ AS OF YET!!! VERY~VERY~VERY~VERY HEAVY ON HORROR AND HOLDS BACK NOTHING AT ALL AS SAID BEFORE!!! AND I MEAN NOTHING!!! DO NOT~NOT~NOT READ THIS THINKING IT IS MINOR/READABLE!!! YOU WILL GET YOUR ASS HANDED TO YOU IF YOU THINK SO👺🥩☠️🥩👺!!! Yet, if you want to brave this type of book, it will have all the depraved~twisted~evil desires you are looking for! {Don’t even think of footing me a bill if you need therapy after this book. Don’t have the money & already warned you all. So we are clear on that front 👏🏾}. After still being WOWED TO THE MAX by this book, I plan on reading the following book to see how that one will go! {Apparently I didn’t get enough depravity & evil content within this one🤧}. With all that being said, I bid you all a farewell for now and the best of luck with books worth your time!🩸👹👨🏼‍🦰

👹🩸🥩The Dark Triad Series🥩🩸👹:

Claustrophilia (The Dark Triad Book 1): ⬆️⬆️⬆️

Psychostasis(The Dark Triad Book 2): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Profile Image for XiaXia.
Author 6 books175 followers
November 19, 2018

I can't believe I've reached the other end in one piece... I. AM. EXHAUSTED! I need cute fluffy reads ASAP to purge myself. I need to shower in holy water together with my kindle and be exorcised. I haven't been to church in years but this Sunday I'll be booking a seat for confession.

Why? Do you see my rating for this book? Do you see it? It's five stars. FIVE. Five stars!

I'm gonna tell you why I rated the book with five stars but first I'll give you 3 chances to step away.
1. This will be the book for you only if you are interested in deep dark reads with murder and psychopaths and characters like in The Silence of the Lambs.

2. The Trigger warnings:
abusive relationships, blood, corpses/necrophilia, cannibalism, claustrophobia, death, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug use, forced captivity, graphic sex, kidnapping, rape, suicide (attempted), torture, violence, watersports/urine

3. More details on the trigger warnings under a spoiler tag:
-> Will there be necrophilia sex described on page?
-> Will there be cannibalism on page?
-> Will they be eating someone still alive?
-> claustrophobia, how bad is it?
-> Is there any eroticism in the book?
-> How bad is the violence? The worst I've read about. Ever.

This book is the final boss for every dark thriller reader. You think you may have battled and won dominion over darker books. Nah. This is the darkest thing you can read. This is the abyss. This is so f**ked up that it twists the entire meaning of "f**ked up" to a whole other level.
Don't read it just out of curiosity, especially if you don't tend to read dark books. Don't do it. You're gonna get crushed and scarred forever and it will not be the author's fault but your own for choosing this book.

If you still pick this book up, it's your choice and your choice only. Don't say you haven't been warned. Any emotional distress will be your own doing.

I gave it five stars because:
1. The writing, editing and book structure is absolutely brilliant. I was uncomfortable and distressed most of the time and the superb writing kept me going page after page after page
2. The characters blew me away. There are two pshychos not one, the only difference between them being the level of depravity and deviation and the fact that one shark is a Great White while the other is a Megalodon. I am in awe and flabbergasted by the character development. Ivan and Chris were completely unapologetic for their deviations. At no point did the author try to make the reader root for them and make any apologies for them. Nothing wrong had happened to them in their childhood. They didn't come from bad families. They just were born with these unspeakable deviations. Chris has more remorse for his killings and urges, while Ivan has none.
3. The mental conditioning: at one point I did not know whom was being brainwashed, Chris by Ivan or myself by the author.
4. I read the most atrocious things possible, not because they were enjoyable, but because they were keeping me on the edge of my seat, in a twisted addiction to the story and the characters, wanting to know what will happen next
5. This book pulverized my boundaries. I might never read a book with these tags ever again. It was enough for me, but if I ever get back the courage to read something like this, Claustrophilia will stand as reference
6. Claustrophilia made me want to rate down all the psycho books I've 5 stared because they can't hold a candle to this.
7. This book is present tense, has dual POV and is split in 3 parts. For the last two parts we move from present to past. I hate these things. They make me rate low. This being said, I loved the past and present exchanges in this book. They improved the book. They improved the plot. They improved everything.

Now I need drown myself in sugary fluffy reads for recovery.

Free exchange for an honest review under the DBML Program
Profile Image for JAN.
1,169 reviews794 followers
November 26, 2018
**** 4.5 Stars ****

Well, I survived.
Was it fun? Do I want to do this again?
No and nope.
That being said, I wouldn't miss it for the world!

This ride was insanely fucked up and incredibly, cleverly done.

I've been mulling over for awhile about my rate. In one hand it deserves a high praise, in the other, it's been an experience I don't want to repeat, EVER again. Therefore, I'll eat 1 star. *pun totally intended*
I can't fault the plot nor the writing for that. In fact, if the the writing was only good, it wouldn't have made such a powerful impression.
Kudos for the author's creativity and courage for fearlessly write such a taboo story.

I for one, thought I would be facing my hard limit here but it appears I have no boundaries.
I'm seriously scared of myself.

Thanks to my dear friends Moony, Xia and Shile for this ride!!! <3
Profile Image for Florence ..
876 reviews229 followers
December 23, 2021
There's nothing to see here, I totally didn’t love a romance book with complete mind break by a twisted main character on his love interest and multiple scenes of cannabilism and necrophilia, and very graphic and twisted ones at that. Just please don’t tell my therapist.
November 3, 2019
★★★ — 3 Stars!

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Rape, murder, graphic depictions of violence, cannibalism, etc. (pretty much everything)

I feel like I need to write in in-depth review for this novel. It was like nothing I had ever read before. I asked for dark romance and I got DARK ROMANCE. DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU ARE FULLY PREPARED FOR IT! And as far as a star rating I’m going with a three. But I’m not even sure if a three is accurate.
Profile Image for Nemo ☠️ (pagesandprozac).
881 reviews414 followers
August 10, 2021

as the author notes in the afterword, this is obviously derivative of bryan fuller's hannibal. but various differing details, as well as the fact that the writing was just so damn good, means i'm mostly willing to overlook that.

i've been reading a couple of these darkly erotic splatterpunk books recently, so maybe it's because i've got used to the whole style that i found this slightly less compelling than the other two. it was still fantastically written, but that along with the obvious derivation made me drop a star.

i leave you with these two gifs (just replace "killer virus" with "a fucked-up taste in fiction")

Profile Image for AGandyGirl.
713 reviews1 follower
August 24, 2020
“There is no need to fear pain,” he says. “Embrace the pain. Endure this for me, and we can be together.”

It is so wrong to have enjoyed this as much as I did. I mean fucking hell...this is without a doubt the most disturbing book I have EVER read. This was well past any limits I may have had and to think I thought Flesh Cartel was limit pushing. Like Flesh Cartel, it is not just about the acts...it is the mind fuckery happening and the brilliant writing which allows the reader to be totally captivated into the minds of these men.

Like Chris I felt on more than one occasion like I too had received a dose of morphine.

It starts as a gentle tingle in the back of his neck. Just a faint shimmer of relief. He thinks for a moment he imagined it… but no, something is happening, and it's not in his head. A sweet, familiar warmth washes over him, subtle at first but gaining traction. The pain and fatigue melt away. His ruthlessly strict position becomes more bearable by the minute. Sweet, sweet intravenous painkillers. Every ache, every strained tendon and crushed joint is replaced by blissful numbness, and chemical euphoria lights up his brain's pleasure centers like the Las Vegas strip. It's more than relief. It's orgasmic. He wants to shout his gratitude to the heavens.

Because I mean you are almost lulled into a peaceful state of mind as you are then taken straight into some flat out heinous acts. WOW.

I do wish Goodreads had this cover uploaded because it is far superior to the one shown. Damn...

Want to push your limits and aren't afraid of the trigger warnings...then I highly recommended this.

Trigger warnings: abusive relationships, blood, corpses/ necrophilia, cannibalism, claustrophobia, death, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug use, forced captivity, graphic sex, kidnapping, rape, suicide (attempted), torture, violence, watersports/ urine. Read at your own risk.

Yep. These are pretty spot on. Read at your own risk indeed.

Like with Flesh Cartel...I am so pleased to have ventured down this disturbing road with Marco. Not sure I could read this type of book with anyone else.
Profile Image for Ed Davis.
2,363 reviews70 followers
April 1, 2020
Oh my God!!! This has to be the most gruesome book I’ve ever read. The depictions of torture and murder were so graphic I had to set the book down and walk away several times. I have the second book and I promised Ezra I’d read and review it on Goodreads. I will, but I’ve got to read light and fluffy for a few day first.

If you are interested in reading about a serial killer in great detail. This is the book for you. It is extremely well written, and I loved the way the story jumped around it time. I would have given it five stars, but I couldn’t believe it took that much torture to break Chris. This book is a gay Silence of the Lambs on steroids.
Profile Image for AussieMum.
1,362 reviews42 followers
November 20, 2018
Free exchange for honest review from DBML

Wow. What an amazingly well-written, depraved and stomach turning story that I will absolutely never read again.

This was a tough one to read, with parts I had to skim, but I had to know how it ended. Like a deeply, darkly, twisted game of cat and mouse these two men are beyond any pair of MC I've ever come across. Layers, so many layers.

4 stars for the writing. But I did not enjoy this. I feel like I endured it.
Profile Image for Maria.
673 reviews37 followers
October 6, 2019
This isn't so much a review as it is a commentary. Chock full of spoilers no doubt so if you haven't read this? Buyer beware.

Funny how I grew so vested in these two, my hatred was palpable by the time the proverbial HEA rolls around, or whatever the hell that was, masochistic, cannibalistic, sadistic, bliss.

I thought Ivan was insane. Turns out he's not. Not at all. Was Mengele? Caligula? Nero? The SS? Nope. Fucking psychopaths to be sure who seriously got off on their proclivities. Some smart as hell. Brilliant and very, very, disturbed.

Chris. I felt his descent coming a mile away. I was hoping he would turn at the last moment, crack a smile and throw a blow torch at Ivan, watch him roast and then eat him, perhaps with some cheap barbecue sauce. Fitting. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Initially I felt sorry for Chris. The torture went on and on and on. It made me uncomfortable. The brutality. Ivan's creepiness. The scene where the molars are pulled really hit me as I have had molars pulled. I saw stars when the needles went in.

Playing with the dead didn't phase me as much, whether you're slicing and dicing or having sex or jacking to get off. Depraved indifference to be sure but it didn't bother me as much because they were dead. I believe the soul leaves the body and you're left with a shell, so knock yourself out Frick and Frack ... you are not getting their soul!

Now on to dinner. Chris and Ivan eat alot of people. You get the impression that Ivan has been dining this way a very long time. I'll admit I did some research before and during my reading. Is it because they don't eat alot of brain matter that they are not getting sick? Chris will fuck a brain but he won't take a bite out of it. Can't you get something along the lines of mad cow disease from all of this cannibalism and drinking blood? Bleh. Gross.

So sadistic ghoul grooms masochistic ghoul. Monsters in love.

And now there are two. Will Chris continue to follow Ivan? One leg, twisted fingers, missing teeth and lost humanity. Will there be more in store for Chris? Can the reader take more?

Will Chris turn on Ivan? Will Ivan fall? Ivan needs to fall into the pits of hell - after Chris eats his barbecue. Then, Chris can put his own head in the oven because he needs to go also.

I want to know where this is headed. I hope it's not more of the same only reworked. If so, I'm done.

Oddly, I'm not ready for it to be done.

Excellent writing by the way. I'm not a fan of time jumping but it didn't bother me here.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sea Caummisar.
Author 76 books512 followers
September 22, 2022
I cannot say enough good things about this book. I'm ashamed to say I had to pull the dictionary out a few times, but I loved it. I was in the book, in fear of what would happen next. It was great.
I'm going backwards and updating this review. Because honestly, after I finished this book my mind was f'ed up. For real. The first page of trighers pulled me in
abusive relationships, blood, corpses/necrophilia, cannibalism, claustrophobia, death, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug use, forced captivity, graphic sex, kidnapping, rape, suicide (attempted), torture, violence, watersports/urine
Then the story absorbed my very soul. I felt like a character in the book. Like I was locked in the box. You have to read it to understand, but this book is the real deal for the hardcore horror enthusiasts.
It takes a few pages to warm up, but it is definitely worth it
Profile Image for Meraki Dark.
Author 13 books115 followers
December 23, 2019
I'm not rating this because I can't finish it.
There's nothing wrong with the storyline! There's nothing wrong with the characters or editing (well, there'll always be something, but fuck it, it's minor), and there's nothing wrong with the plot or darkness or anything. In fact, i frigging love it
But I'm the one have a problem.
This book's problem is me, as a reader. I cannot read first person present tense, and I keep re-reading paragraph after paragraph because it's so foreign to me. That I made it this far before DNF is because I kept wanting to know. It's a very interesting book! Plot! It works! Characters? Brilliantly evil! An unapologetic dark fucker and someone delving into his own dark and twisted mindset. I love it!
But being pulled out of a story because of tense makes me feel like I'm reading the book 3 times in order to get it all, breaking up the suspense and mindfucking and ingenious little details.
Present tense kicks me every time just like first person does, but first person present is just double up on all things evil for my preferred reading style.
And yeah, I'm apologetic here because this darkness is wonderful and it deserves better, and I truly hope dark loving readers out here are less sensitive to these things than I am because they're in for a treat! I blame me being an author. I spend too much time focusing on my style to being able to shift THAT MASSIVELY (I write third person past tense). So, if you like dark and twisted mindfucks, exploring the depth of human desire even at it's most depraved, Stockholm syndrome, and chilling angst and fear...and first person present tense...go get this!
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,749 reviews5,291 followers
November 6, 2021
This book was a lot. I almost put it down several times, but honestly, it was like a catastrophe I absolutely could not look away from. Do I recommend it? No, not unless you also find yourself inexplicably drawn to extremely fucked up, gore-filled depictions of the most abusive, messiest relationships you can think of, full of murder, torture, and tremendously depraved sexual activities.

But if you do find yourself inexplicably drawn to those things, well... this was pretty damn good.

Representation: Christopher and Ivan are both queer men

Content warnings for:

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Profile Image for Acacia.
48 reviews
August 17, 2018
I read an early version of this story, and I mean it when I say it was the most disturbing reading experience I've ever had. As someone who's into psychological horror, that's gotta be saying something. When I found out this was being distributed as something I'd be able to purchase, I absolutely jumped at the chance, and you should too.

You should have a strong stomach for this book--not necessarily because of the gore (of which there is plenty) or body horror (again, it comes in ample amounts), but for the ways it pushes you as a reader to get inside the head of a person becoming a monster. The immersive writing brings you almost too close to understanding, and that's where its real strength, and the real sense of fascinated revulsion, really lies.
Profile Image for Kaylee.
520 reviews21 followers
April 5, 2023
"I like to think I brought out the humanity in him."
"And he brought out the animal in you," says Ivan.
"Oh no," he says with a laugh. "I'm a wolf in sheep's clothing, Doctor Skinner. Always have been. All he did was remove the disguise."

Wow. Just... wow. Some of the things that happened here I just couldn't believe. The author goes beyond what you would imagine, especially since there are no apologies. Very little remorse and none at all from Ivan.

The things that Chris goes through are insane. The things that Chris does are insane.
"You're mine, Christopher. I own you. I could allow you some freedom, but continue to bite the hand that feeds, and I promise you will spend the rest of your life in captivity."
White hot pressure builds behind his eyes as his vision darkens.
"Forget autonomy. Your body and mind belong to me. You should get used to the idea now."

And it was all so well written. Kept me captivated the entire time.

There are no chapters; instead, it is broken up in three parts. It's a mix between past and present, and some falsehoods (more or less). And is fascinating. Normally, I'm not a fan of switching back and forth but this was done very well and really added a much-needed element to the story. Sometimes it switched POV from Chris to Ivan and sometimes it wasn't very clear, or seemed to be Chris' with a bit of Ivan's thrown in. It barely distracted from the story, though, and was over quickly, going back to the original POV quickly.

Ivan is a master manipulator. He's a sociopath who knows exactly what he wants, especially when Chris comes into the picture. The brainwashing...! The many ways it was done and how it was based off how Chris already felt... Extremely well done. Blake truly outdid himself here. I would love to read more by him and will be keeping a close eye.
Ivan is slow to anger, and he can hold a grudge with Olympic endurance. When he's angry, he never lashes out; he acknowledges the feeling, tucks it away, and lets it fester inside him until the day he deems opportune to weaponize it.

I'm unsure if I'm going to read the next to this series since it really just doesn't sound interesting, however, Blake's writing is soo good that I just might...

This is, as many people have said, incredibly dark. My advice is, if you're unsure about being able to tolerate it/on the fence about it in general, that you should probably stay away. If you don't read many dark books, don't start with this/read others first.
"You were conditioned into your sexuality preference. Violently."
"Yeah." He says. "Does that make it less real?"

"Everyone is afraid of death," he says. "I said I wasn't afraid of my own."
Profile Image for Toby.
134 reviews74 followers
September 21, 2021
I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite some time. I came across Blake’s works after winning a giveaway he was hosting for an art commission (which I absolutely adored) and have been meaning to read Claustrophilia for quite some time.

I found Claustrophilia a very fun, imaginative and engaging read. I feel weird using the word fun when there’s so much debauchery involved in the novel, but I was entertained and I cant think of many books that involve queer characters who do unimaginable atrocities.

The writing is really great, minus some parts of dialogue that I found seemed rather unfitting with the rest of the work, but that’s a minor overview. The whole story was captivating and the characters were both so likeable, and the thing I loved the most was that it felt like we were suppose to love the character, even with how awful their actions were.

I always ask myself how I can review a book that has hard topics, problematic topics, without seeming like a weirdo who supports the content in the book, but it’s the thing about fiction, I leave my morals at the door, and have a blast doing so.

If you want a book that feels like a mix of Thomas Harris, Billy Martin & hell, Dennis Cooper, then I highly suggest this highly fascinating, depraved and alluring novel.

Profile Image for Mason.
3 reviews1 follower
August 18, 2018
I'm a reader both of an early version of Claustrophilia and an early reader of the current version.

Claustrophilia falls into two very difficult to manage genres, LGBT horror and erotic horror. Both of these often lend themselves to too-real avenues of homophobia, transphobia and sexism, and usually violent in those regards. It's difficult to escape these realities while still keeping the visceral nature desired in good horror.

That being said, Claustrophilia is not for the faint of heart or temperament. It is erotic horror in it's unflinchingly sensual treatment of taboos such as necrophilia, cannibalism, death and torture.

If you're the kind of person who scrolls through lists of banned books, of the most disturbing books people have read, Claustrophilia may be for you.
Profile Image for Kerish |  Wesmie.
159 reviews5 followers
March 11, 2021
2.5 stars

This was ok but I could not help comparing it to Hannibal. It's like super similar- to the series at least.
Profile Image for Don.
195 reviews26 followers
August 1, 2020

This compelling read is the darkest of the dark and unless you're prepared to get up close and personal with things like necrophilia, dismemberment, extreme claustrophobia, excruciating torture, captivity, and an abundance of cannibalism, you'd best steer clear. So what if it's a bit derivative, I'll have mine with a side of fava beans, please.
Profile Image for sparrow.
196 reviews2 followers
September 9, 2023
i have no fucking words. i'm so disturbed and have no idea where to even begin. this would 5 fully depraved stars if there was a more chronological order to this book, but it didn't put me off because i think the whole point was to leave the reader as off-kilter as Christopher was. i've read some deranged things, but this takes the cake and it was done... splendidly. a word i use begrudgingly because i feel like this doesn't really deserve praise. crime against humanity, indeed loool

bear with me as i try to put this into synopsis because it was quite scattered and i took several breaks to collect myself in between the torture.

Christopher is a med student working as an assistant in a pathology lab. he has no friends apart from his professor, Ivan, and his beetles. off-putting even to his co-workers and superiors, he feels he can only be himself with corpses. when the Providence Butcher starts providing bodies that have a special appeal to Chris' sick fascination, he starts fantasizing about murdering Ivan and getting the Butcher's attention.

surprise, shock, and awe: Ivan is the Providence Butcher. his fascination with Chris is much more intense and extreme than Christopher could even begin to scratch the surface of. after a particularly disgusting interaction in the morgue where Chris tries to share his love of dead people with Ivan, Ivan kidnaps him and traps him in a plastic box.. folding his body until his feet are behind his head and leaving him in darkness for days at a time, opening the case only to stick an IV in his hands or to bathe him.

the human terrarium is only the beginning of the torture that Ivan has in store for Chris and it is fucking brutal. seriously, heed every single warning and then make some up for good measure, because none of it really encapsulates the shit that goes on in these pages. as dark romance junkies go, a lot of us tend to disregard those completely and it's usually fine. we get an mc who is "unrepentant and a villain" but that description is diet sierra mist left in the sun for three days compared to whatever the fresh fuck crisp mcdonald's sprite Ivan is. he's in his own league and deserves his own warning. for months, Ivan physically, sexually, and psychologically tortures Christopher until he is thoroughly entrenched in some far-gone state of masochistic Stockholm syndrome.

Vulnerability, not love, draws him into Ivan's bedroom that night. Just as he starves Chris to compel him to eat the flesh of his victims, he denies Chris affection, attention, and sometimes all human contact so he’ll accept Ivan's touch with enthusiasm. Every sliver of basic decency begins to feel like a gift.

he endures sensory deprivation and overstimulation, starvation, he is punched until he pukes, forced to hold his urine, intubated and fed the mush of human remains, his fingers are broken without warning both in the midst of torture and during sex, his teeth are pulled, his leg is amputated, he's locked in an electrical cage.

"You love it when I use you,” Ivan growls. “All those doctors and investigators treating you like fine china, but this is what you really want, isn't it Christopher? You need to be abused.”

in between all of this, Ivan conditions and grooms Chris into torturing, murdering, defiling, and eating others too. i don't even wanna talk about the things he does because it's so beyond vulgar. there is very little romance mixed in because the imposed mental decay from Ivan's game is front and center from start to finish.

after losing his leg and his memory of just exactly who the Providence Butcher is, Christopher wakes up in Italy under the care of Ivan. under the pretense that Chris was kidnapped and tortured extensively for months by someone else, Ivan becomes his pseudo-psychologist and helps walk Chris backwards through his memories.

“Even psychopaths desire compassion, Christopher. Perhaps he saw in you a singular opportunity to be understood and accepted without pretense.” He pushes himself off the chaise, paces to the window and allows his turbulent, unseeing gaze to skim across the garden.
“You seem awfully sure about that.”
Ivan smiles, unfazed. “As I said, we can only speculate. If understanding your abuser brings you any comfort, I consider it a worthy endeavor.”
“Oh, I think I'm starting to understand,” Chris spits. “But even if he loved me, or manipulated my definition of love into something that could include him, he still lost me. He doesn't get to reap the spoils.”
“Because you escaped.”
“Because I survived him,” says Chris. He smiles without a trace of amusement. “I'm the Butcher's only living victim.”

Ivan is a goddamn menace. the second and third part of the book get a bit confusing because the present is intermixed with the past and we are flip-flopped from Italy to Providence through Chris' memories and retellings. while Ivan is still predatory and domineering in Italy, his only identity to Chris is as the professor he developed feelings for before getting kidnapped. but Ivan never stops being a shark in the water; his manipulation continues in every discussion and interaction. the food being served remains his preferred delicacy. the reader is led into the frustrated and confused maze of things as much as Christopher is.

Ivan knows him far too well already. He is dangerously entwined in Chris's psyche, embedded like a tick, sucking him dry. Destroy the body and the head remains.

the overarching motivation is perhaps hard to recall through all the blood and gore, but ultimately Ivan recognizes something in Chris that Chris refuses to admit even to himself. the fantasies of death, the arousal by corpses, the urge to seek praise as much as pain from Ivan all culminate in a seriously damaged psyche. through a mix of extreme measures and subtle manipulation, Ivan roots through Chris' brain and digs out what any rational human being would rather keep buried.

“I suppose you already know how often I fantasize about it.”
“About committing murder.”
He takes a deep, shaky breath to steady his hands. “You could call it that,” he says. “But I think the word 'murder' gives me a little too much credit. You walk in on your wife with another man and shoot them both in the head, that's murder. I want to commit atrocities.”

eventually, Chris recovers the identity of the Butcher after Ivan cajoles him into murdering again. despite the conflict of identity, fear, and arousal, Chris is... relieved... to have Ivan back the way he knows him. these two absolute looney birds find a kindred balance between them that could never be accepted by anyone else and i guess it's sort of. beautiful. if you can ignore the fact they've both taken the term skull-fucking far too literally and should be euthanized to save the world the unhinged shit they're into as foreplay. there's a happy ending insomuch as one serial killer grooming his perfect serial killer partner he will never let escape until he decides to kill him. yay?

“I don’t expect you to forgive me,” Ivan says. “I expect you to run. I’ll catch you. I expect you to hurt me, and I’ll hurt you. We’ll kill together, and you’ll be conflicted, we’ll both know some dark part of you wants to do it—for the rest of your life, you’re free to play the victim when you can’t live with yourself as the aggressor. That is my gift to you.”

i need a fucking drink.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
1 review
October 23, 2018

"Scalding, searing, tender, cruel, vicious. Miserable. Penetrating."

Claustrophilia is one of the darkest and most intimate journeys I've seen. It probes humanity's anaerobic crypts, occasionally surfacing for a shocking burst of humor or light before the nightmare continues. Grab a snack, because this book is harder to put down than it is to pick up again.
Profile Image for the kevin (on brainrot hiatus).
947 reviews122 followers
Shelved as 'not-interested'
May 18, 2022
This is just Hannigram. Not at all subtle. I don’t feel like reading a mediocrely reskinned (lol) fic.

(apparently this is noted by the author in the afterword...but its obvious from the moment Ivan comes on page if you've seen any of NBC's Hannibal)
Profile Image for Qin.
533 reviews36 followers
January 5, 2019
The five stars the incredibly detailed writing, ghoulish yet somehow almost poetic (though not always convincingly done, as I was able to smell out the overuse of a thesaurus), the sustained pacing that only weakens in the last part, when the dramatic tension is supposedly rekindled though a walk down memory lane, and sheer authorial fortitude needed to broach such a theme on the grand scale, are worthy of need to be compounded by what I take to be the needlessly convoluted personality of the protagonists; a lack of payback for the reader who suffered through so much graphical torture, relentless depravity, and disjointed mental rambling for nothing, since while no positiveness whatsover is to be found within the story, not even in the ending which neither surprises nor comes as anything of a shocker, or in the less flawed of the leads, I was equally unable to find out what on earth the Butcher and Chris do bring to each other beyond feeding the other hero's obsession; and the irritating feeling that rather too much fuss has been made about precious little. Necrophilia, for example, is a notoriously challenging topic to make palatable; probably because they are masters of both erotica and horror, David Morrell or James Herbert managed to have it sound almost seducing, but not so Mr Blake - he has no qualms about describing bouts of cadaver riding as grisly interludes void of any metaphysics and keeps things at that very basic level. Such soulless operations in his book lose more than they gain by being repeated at regular intervals; all the more so since they do not provice the reader much insight into Chris' mindset with respect to what has been painfully established previously with respect to his deviancy. While he certainly cuts an imposing figure, Ivan aka the Butcher falls a long way short of being an Hannibal Lecter redivivus, let alone another Maldoror; far from reeking of insane charisma and from oozing sexy malevolence, something which in my humble opinion must be done with the utmost restraint and in such a fashion as to leave the reader's imagination amplify the tidbits of the text, to me he was overdone, therefore merely gross, usubtly disturbing, over the top, and oftentimes ridiculous. It is a shame that only intermittenly could I find him to be mildly fascinating. Finally, I think the book falters in its universe building - there was no atmosphere outside of the creepy seclusion Ivan keeps Chris in, not even in the very beginning, before the kidnapping does occur. Two stars and a half rounded up to three, but reluctantly.
Profile Image for Claudia MZ.
315 reviews13 followers
October 31, 2020
I'm not sure if it was the book that made me uncomfortable or my voyeuristic joy in witnessing someone becoming deranged. It's almost hilarious what you come to simply accept because there's no way out - is there something like self-torture? Because at some scenes I felt like it; like I was a victim begging to stop, while forcing myself to go through, it's like some twisted meta irony, isn't it?
The writing is exceptionally good for a book "like this", I take my conflicted feelings everytime I found some scenes cute as proof. As someone who always skips content warnings, I was in for some surprises and horrendous delight, although I have to admit I skimmed through a particular murder.
Also I could never recommend this book with good conscience to anyone so what am I supposed to do now?? I'll do what this books tells me and do some wellness because you certaintly deserve it once it's over.
Profile Image for Otis Bateman.
Author 11 books84 followers
March 4, 2020
This book is truly special in terms of how well written it is and how depraved it becomes. Beware, the trigger warnings are definitely for a reason. I’m a huge fan of Splatterpunk/ extreme horror so not much bothers me but I can see how this book would decimate some people!

The story did remind me of The Silence Of The Lambs but only in the most generic of ways, I’m sure Ezra was well aware that they were influenced by Harris’s book. ( it’s even mentioned at the end of the book)

I would like to interject that I definitely feel this book is superior to Lambs in my opinion. Ezra definitely makes Ivan a very blood thirsty, yet sophisticated killer and ratchets the violence and torture to truly impressive heights.the ingeniously depraved torture/Murder set pieces are some real showstoppers, let me tell you!

I also enjoyed Chris’s metamorphosis throughout the story as he becomes abused beyond all levels imaginable and what he becomes by the end. He truly takes us on a vivid journey we won’t soon forget.

I feel I should mention this just so it isn’t a surprise to some readers, but besides being extreme horror it also dips it’s toes into homoerotic fiction too, so there are a few passages of explicit sex peppered throughout.

As a straight man it slightly shocked me for a second but then the amazing storyline and impeccable skills of bringing these characters to life sucked me right in. I definitely was so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone as it is one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year!

All in all I highly recommend this book as Blake firmly plants themselves in the upper echelon of phenomenal horror novelists. I cannot wait for book 2!
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