Reviews of The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

The Book Eaters

by Sunyi Dean

The Book Eaters by  Sunyi Dean X
The Book Eaters by  Sunyi Dean
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Aug 2022, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Sunyi Dean's The Book Eaters is "a darkly sweet pastry of a book about family, betrayal, and the lengths we go to for the ones we love. A delicious modern fairy tale." - Christopher Buehlman, Shirley Jackson Award-winning author.

Truth is found between the stories we're fed and the stories we hunger for.

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 fairy tales 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.

1

DEVON BY DAY

PRESENT DAY

We have just begun to navigate a strange region; we must expect to encounter strange adventures, strange perils.
—Arthur Machen, The Terror

These days, Devon only bought three things from the shops: books, booze, and Sensitive Care skin cream. The books she ate, the booze kept her sane, and the lotion was for Cai, her son. He suffered occasionally from eczema, especially in winter.

There were no books in this convenience store, only rows of garish magazines. Not to her taste, and anyway she had enough books to eat at home. Her gaze skipped across the soft porn, power tools, and home living publications down to the lowest strata, where children's magazines glowed pink and yellow.

Devon ran short, ragged nails across the covers. She thought about buying one for Cai, because he seemed to like reading that kind of thing at the moment, and decided against it. After tonight, his preferences might change.

She walked to ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The story is told in a non-linear fashion. This allows Dean to gradually flesh out the complexity of Devon's character and moral standing as she wrestles with the guilt of finding humans for her son to feed upon. As we gain greater insight into her past, her actions and her motives, one of the book's central concerns comes into play: Is it okay for a parent to do bad things if it's for the good of their child? From certain perspectives, it would be easy to view Devon as a monster, but the more we see of the corrupt, sexist regime she has been living under, the easier it becomes to consider the system itself the real monster, and to root for Devon to escape it, no matter the cost...continued

Full Review Members Only (590 words).

(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

Buzzfeed
A delightfully weird exploration of motherhood, queerness, and escaping patriarchal norms

The Daily Mail (UK)
A gripping and beautifully plotted story told with verve and deliciously dark wit.

Booklist (starred review)
A powerful story of overwhelming mother love, as something both powerful and potentially horrific. It's a book that delves into the need to survive even when a system is built to break you or determined to crush you; a powerful queer story about difference that refuses to flinch away from difficult choices or the impact of trauma, both generational and inflicted. Readers will devour this compelling, rich fantasy.

Library Journal (starred review)
A fascinating debut with shades of gothic fantasy and contemporary thriller, wrapped in a narrative full of vivid and detailed characters and worldbuilding, and an unusual premise.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Dean's unputdownable debut gives the phrase 'voracious reader' a new, very literal meaning...The fascinating magic system, impeccable and unusual worldbuilding, and well-shaded characters will keep readers riveted through every twist of this wild ride.

Author Blurb James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestseller of The Starless Crown
Innovative, unique, poignant, and told with a voice as original as the story itself. I finished this novel in that one sitting, yet I'll be pondering it for a long time to come. This is the debut of a new master of the modern fantasy. Don't miss it.

Author Blurb Olivie Blake, New York Times bestselling author of The Atlas Six
Raw and imaginative, this gritty, gothic anti-fairytale knows the truth: love will make a villain out of anyone.

Author Blurb V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue
I devoured this.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Novels Exploring the Moral Dilemmas of Parenthood

The protagonist in Sunyi Dean's novel The Book Eaters repeatedly finds herself compelled to carry out cruel acts against others in order to protect her young son. This moral dilemma is central to the character's development and forces readers to consider a difficult question: If a parent does bad things for the good of their child, can the ends ever justify the means? This is a fascinating topic sure to inspire debate, which is why authors have often been drawn to tackle it. Here are some other examples of books that explore moral dilemmas related to parenthood.

Covers of books exploring the moral dilemmas of parenthood

In My Name Is Monster by Katie Hale, our main character has survived alone for years in a world decimated by disease. Her existence is turned upside down when she finds ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Book Eaters, try these:

  • All of Us Villains jacket

    All of Us Villains

    by Amanda Foody, Christine Herman

    Published 2022

    About this book

    The blockbuster co-writing debut of Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman, All of Us Villains begins a dark tale of ambition and magick...

  • Blood Like Magic jacket

    Blood Like Magic

    by Liselle Sambury

    Published 2022

    About this book

    A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family's magic. The problem is, she's never been in love - she'll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Book of Goose
    The Book of Goose
    by Yiyun Li
    Yiyun Li's The Book of Goose is a story of childhood friendship between narrator Agnès, a one-...
  • Book Jacket: Big Red
    Big Red
    by Jerome Charyn
    Jerome Charyn made his name as an author of detective novels, and over the years he has taken his ...
  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Bell in the Lake
by Lars Mytting
The engrossing epic novel - a #1 bestseller in Norway - of a young woman whose fate plays out against her village's mystical church bells.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Our Missing Hearts
    by Celeste Ng

    From the author of Little Fires Everywhere, the inspiring new novel about a mother’s unbreakable love in a world consumed by fear.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

G R T Bad R

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.