In “The Book Eaters” by Sunyi Dean, readers are invited into a mysterious world on the Yorkshire Moors, where a hidden lineage of individuals possesses a unique ability to consume books as sustenance. However, this seemingly enchanting skill takes a darker turn when Devon, a member of The Family, discovers that her son has a peculiar hunger for human minds. Dean’s novel delves into themes of family, identity, and the consequences of forbidden appetites.
Within the secretive lineage of The Family, books are not mere vessels of knowledge but a literal source of sustenance. Dean’s imaginative concept paints a vivid picture of a world where books are devoured, their content absorbed and retained by those who partake in this literary feast. Spy novels become peppery snacks, romance novels are sweet delicacies, and even maps can be consumed to recall specific destinations. The author’s portrayal of this unconventional culinary practice sets the stage for an intriguing exploration of the characters’ relationships with literature and the repercussions they face.
As a member of The Family, Devon is raised amidst the rituals and traditions that revolve around their book-eating abilities. She witnesses her brothers feasting on tales of adventure and valor, while she herself is nourished with carefully selected fairy tales and cautionary stories. Dean skillfully weaves the themes of family bonds, the weight of inherited expectations, and the struggle to reconcile individual desires within a deeply rooted lineage. Through Devon’s journey, readers experience the complexities and conflicts that arise when personal identity clashes with established traditions.
It is such a unique plot and was a treat to read. There were a few unnecessary chapters, IMO, but overall it is a well-written debut novel. If you like something different and dark, this will fit your appetite.
Here’s the blurb:
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.