Adult Books

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean – Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairytales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

This isn’t the usual type of book I read so I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this but once I started reading I was hooked and was up late at night listening to the audiobook. 

This is a dark story and does not shy away from describing the gore and murders so do take that into account before reading.

The story revolves around the relationship of a mother and her young son so we get lots of discussions about motherhood and how the patriarchy has failed mothers in so many ways. I really loved seeing this in the book and its something I think we should see more of in books. 

Devon grows up believing in the fairytales she eats and is raised to believe she is a princess in her family and yet as she gets older she gets rebellious and others have to face the consequences of her actions so she learns to hide that part of herself. When she grows up she is married off to “the best match” essentially so she can give that family a child. 

Devon is given no options or choices and her opinions and wants do not matter. She is just there to have the baby for the benefit of the men. She doesn’t even get a choice in who to marry and once she’s had the baby she cannot raise them or have contact with them again. Despite Devin being taught this is the life of women she fights against it and is beaten, lied to and manipulated to get her to stay quiet and in her place. I truly felt for her and was really rooting for her to get the life she deserved with her kids. 

There are so many parallels in Devon’s story with the story of countless women in similar situations. They suffer and their children are used against them to ensure their obedience and even escaping doesn’t always mean they get to be free. Sometimes they have to leave their child behind like Devon did, and we see her guilt and worry about leaving her daughter to suffer the same fate she did. But she had to choose between her and her son and even that had its own issues. 

I loved seeing who Devon was as she grew up and who she became, who she had to become to protect her son. She is ruthless and has to make awful choices but everything she does is for her son. In this book all the characters are morally grey, though some more than others. The men treat women as objects they own and even those who claim to be different aren’t. Though I did like seeing that Devon is able to meet at least one man who truly tries to help her as much as she can and they become friends. 

There is also very little romance in this book which was really refreshing to read and the main focus being the mother son relationship. We need more books that show different types of love because they are just as important as romantic love. 

This was such an interesting read and I really enjoyed it though I do wish we had been given a little more than the ending we got because I want to know more! 

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