The Book Eaters
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 out of 5 stars
Title: The Book Eaters
Author: Sunyi Dean
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: ARC, ebook
Publication: 18th of August 2022
Devon grew up in an isolated old mansion on the Yorkshire Moors belonging to the Fairweather family. They are book eaters— supernatural beings that eat books for sustenance and retain the knowledge they contain. Raised on a diet of fairytales, Devon is not ready for her arranged marriage and the pain of separation from her daughter Salem. When her second child Cai is born with a rare and terrifying disease that makes him crave human minds, she flees to protect him at all costs…
This was a surprising and imaginative read. The idea of a secretive supernatural being that is fast and strong like a vampire but is satisfied with eating books instead of drinking blood is unique and fascinating. I wish we could devour books in a literal sense to learn their contents. Wouldn’t that be great? Especially when we have to study for exams.
The Book Eaters is a rather dark fantasy novel with elements of gothic horror. Cai’s illness is a source of some horrifying scenes and disturbing moral dilemmas. How far can you go to protect those you love? Devon’s situation seems to have no easy way out. As we progress through the book and learn more about her past, we start to understand her choices and the motivation behind them. We also learn more about the secretive society of book eaters and especially the role women are forced to endure. They are raised in a comfortable, sheltered, strictly controlled environment without knowledge of the outside world. They are called Princesses and fed old fairytales to remain innocent and meek. Little do they know that the book eater race is on the edge of extinction, and women are now a commodity. Given away in arranged marriage contracts, their only purpose is to bear children, whom they must abandon before moving to another family. Separation from Salem profoundly influences Devon, her thoughts and decisions. Her constant longing for her child is heartbreaking. Through this original novel, Sunyi Dean found a fascinating way to criticise patriarchy and discuss women’s rights.