James Tooth is a man terrified of his bodily functions. Just the thought of squeezing out even the smallest of brown pellets into the toilet bowl is enough to send his stomach writhing in apprehension. Rather than gravy streaming from between his cheeks, it's tears that drip from his eyes.
His coprophobia is understandable, though. When he was a child, James suffered trauma thanks to his brother Kreb.
Kreb the Chocolateman. Part human, part demon, and quite literally a shitty individual.
Now, 22 years since the event that caused James all of his issues, Kreb may be back to give not just James, but his entire family a taste of his special choc-choc.
Get ready for browntime.
I'm going out on a limb here to say that you already know if this book is for you. If you didn't turn away from the wonderfully filth-encrusted cover art, or my pooey synopsis, then this may be just the book you are looking for.
What Jonathan Butcher has achieved with Chocolateman is surprisingly good. I was expecting something childish and silly. The cover, the title, the synopsis. The fact that #slobbypoopoo started trending in certain circles. All things that made me think that this was going to be mostly immature playground scat humour.
But it is so much more than that.
Jonathan has somehow managed to submerge the bizarro silliness of a shit-obsessed entity beneath clever writing and a compelling plot.
Don't get me wrong, the humour is there, but it's not in a blatant poo-joke kind of way, so much as it's merged with nightmarish descriptions.
I've already mentioned 'browntime' and 'choc-choc.' Things sound funny when taken out of context. But, when used in the story, the laughter is entwined with dread at the connotations of what they entail.
It's the clumps of undigested corn peeking through the gooey surface that intrigue. Those little hidden nuggets that keep you pushing on.
Now, I realise that I'm making a lot of poo related comparisons, but the story will affect you that way. You won't be pouring gravy on your food for a while without thinking about Chocolateman. Do you like brown sauce on your fried breakfast, Nutella in your sandwich or just a simple choccy bar?
Well, reading this may ruin those things for you because anything brown and gooey is going to give you thoughts of Kreb. Like a strange form of PTSD. PooTSD perhaps?
And what a great antagonist Kreb is too. He is shit and filth personified.
Vile, violent and virulent.
I am definitely going to be using 'Kreb' as an insult from now on. Someone walks out of the bathroom without washing their hands? Call them a dirty fucking Kreb.
Kids walk in the house covered in muck from playing outdoors? "Take your shoes off and wash your hands, you little Krebs."
Just don't say it that often. Kreb may hear you and come calling.
There is so much I want to talk about regarding Chocolateman, and I can't do it. I can't spoil all the delicacies you are going to uncover when you read it.
But I will give you a few hints.
I know I said that Chocolateman is much more than silly poo jokes, but there were a couple that spring to mind that had me laughing - the epilogue title and the crazy fear-driven thought about a vampire being two highlights.
Oh, and the line about Nutella - that was probably my favourite.
It is - for want of anything wittier to say - some clever shit. Especially the repeated dedication that only makes sense once you've read the book.
And as for the little moment of birth toward the end, and I do mean 'toward the end.' That was one of the most fucked up things going. I wish I'd thought of it.
Chocolateman is filth. Not the smutty kind, but the dirty and unexpected bloodshart that stains the underwear of anything you've read before.
There is a warning at the start of the book. One that informs the reader that turning the page will invite the Chocolateman into your home.
And I still went ahead.
It's too late for me now. I've invited Kreb into my life, and even though Chocolateman is a self-contained story, I want more. I've become infected by browntime, and now I too find myself craving another taste of delicious choc-choc.
If your sense of humour is sick and twisted, and you don't mind getting your fingers dirty, then Chocolateman is going to be right up your alley - or passage.
If you would like to check out more of Jonathan's work, you can click here to go straight to his amazon profile.