Published by Tor on August 2, 2022
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Sunyi Dean’s debut, The Book Eaters, is a dark, contemporary fantasy that takes a brutally hard look at women’s place in society, motherhood, the patriarchy, and love.
About The Book Eaters
Devon is a Book Eater, a race that lives hidden among humans. Book Eaters can’t read – they learn and exist by eating books. Women are scarce with limited fertility. Marriage contracts are for limited amounts of time and children stay with the fathers’ families.
Devon grew up in her family’s moldering mansion, isolated on the Moors, being fed fairy tales about princesses. Being bartered into marriage was a rude awakening as she realizes that her sole worth is as a broodmare. Being forced to leave her daughter shatters her. Devon swallows her rage and despair. Until it happens again. She takes her son and goes on the run from the Families and their Knights.
My thoughts about The Book Eaters
Sunyi Dean’s created a fascinating race of people. Imagine that you learn by literally eating books, but remain illiterate, unable to even write your name or text. How do you keep your race going when fertile women are rare. And children are even rarer.
I love that despite growing up with a head filled with passive princess tales, Devon refuses to accept a passive role. She carves out space to be strong even with the weight of society’s expectations against her.
Sunyi Dean shows us love, found family, and the determination to follow your heart even when doing so could lose you everything.
The Book Eaters’ world is similar to ours with the edition of this mostly hidden race. The heavy lifting of her intense worldbuilding lies with the creation of the Book Eaters, their society, rules, and adaptations they’ve made to exist and keep their people alive.
I love how Dean reveals Devon’s story with flashbacks slowly filling in the gaps, showing us why Devon is on the run with her son. There’s a constant, increasing tension leading to the final showdown. By this time, the reader’s firmly on Devon’s side, cheering her on as she defies the Families in her pursuit of a life for herself and her son.
This is a dark and intense story about a woman’s struggle to find love and protect her children from a repressive, patriarchal society within a contemporary fantasy with hints of Gothic and fairy tale. Exquisitely descriptive writing paired with an intriguing concept makes for an unputdownable read.
- Contemporary fantasy
- Others live among us
- Patriarchal society
- Multiple POV
- Queer and ace rep
- Fairytale elements
- Gothic mansion on the Moors
- Knights and dragons
- Dying out race
Thank you, Tor Books for the DRC!