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The Book Eaters

de Sunyi Dean

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MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
1,1973416,147 (3.79)25
"Sunyi Dean's The Book Eaters is a contemporary fantasy debut. It's a story of motherhood, sacrifice, and hope; of queer identity and learning to accept who you are; of gilded lies and the danger of believing the narratives others create for you. 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"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 33 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
This book is a darkly incredible foray into abuse that has trickled down from past generations to the future ones. I couldn’t help but identify with Devon’s struggle to break the cycle with her own son Cai, especially with her lamenting when she fails to live up to the person she wants to be—a role-model she never had, trying to create a better world for her son than the one she grew up in.

This is a contemporary fantasy that takes place in England, but it’s split storyline. While the present-day Devon’s storyline takes place in or near present-day, there’s also another storyline with her younger self in childhood, and the way the two are woven together is absolutely masterfully done. Dark, terrible things happen to Devon bringing her to her present-day quest to save her son, but they aren’t lingered on or described in detail. Instead, the reader is distanced from the events as Devon distances herself from what happens, as a way to survive.

I loved the way the culture of the Book Eaters was explored and revealed, with its struggle to stay unknown in a modern world that moves increasingly fast. I also appreciated the way dark subjects were dealt with, neither glorifying or shockingly, but also without shying away from them: things like emotional abuse and its effects, sexual assault, and physical abuse.

Devon was raised as a princess, punished only by being forced to eat dictionary pages instead of fairy tales, but with the full expectation that once she was grown she would fulfill her duty and give two other Families a child each, after which she could come back home and do as she pleased.

But Devon’s son is a mind eater. To the Family, mind eaters are monsters who must be shut away and quelled firmly by Knights who are trained in how to break their spirits and “train” them to obey. Devon’s not about to let that happen to her son, though.

The only way to save her son is to secure him a drug that will allow him to eat books instead of minds. A drug that has become impossible to find in recent years. Impossible, however, is merely a suggestion for Devon.


CW: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual assault, body horror, gore, explicit violence, domestic abuse, violence against children


I was given a copy of this book, but that has not affected my review to the best of my knowledge. ( )
  skaeth | Feb 6, 2024 |
So I didn’t know what to expect from this book going in. But I was so intrigued by the premise - a secret race of humanoids that survive off books and minds? So interesting! I thought I would fly through this, being less than 300 pages long.

It took me 2 weeks to finish, and while I lost interest around the 50% mark, I am stubborn and wanted to finish the book so I could give a more complete review. A lot of the story was very, very slow and I had to come back to it several times to get through it. The story felt like it was heavy on worldbuilding and light on plot/characterization (for anyone other than the MC). I also had no idea where the story was going until the last 20% or so, and not in a good way.

I did enjoy the worldbuilding and it was fascinating reading about the English and Irish towns. The author did a great job with this and made you feel as if you were really in the setting. I also liked and sympathized with the main character, Devon, I didn’t feel very drawn to her. I struggled to get a clear picture of who she was.

It’s told in 2 timelines, one where Devon is an adult and the second where she is a child, and progressive chapters show her growing older and then the two timelines converge at the end.

This was an ok read for me, but it might just not be my cup of tea. ( )
  galian84 | Dec 1, 2023 |
In a fantasy world where girls are feeding on fairy tales and dictionary pages are punishment, where children are nourished for 3 years and then "taken away" ... that sounds to me more than a fantasy...but for the sake of the storyline it was an interesting weird experience to read this book. However, I enjoyed it even though it wasn't something too excited ... the idea was brilliant, but a little bit flat. ( )
  simonamitac | Nov 27, 2023 |
This review is also featured on Behind the Pages: The Book Eaters

As a child Devon dined on stories of princesses and fairy tales, never knowing the cruel future awaiting her. As a book eater, she not only eats stories to survive but embodies them. Raised to believe she is like the princesses of her tales. Until she comes of marrying age and learns female book eaters are merely used to preserve their species. Kept in high quality to produce suitable heirs. And when they bear children, their babies are ripped away, the mothers are sent off until they are ready to have more. When Devon’s second child is born, a boy who would eat minds instead of books, she is fiercely determined to protect him and never let him be taken away.

Devon’s story is told through a blend of past and present. Weaving together the joyful days of her youth into the harsh realities she faces as an adult. The Book Eaters have built a society around control and manipulation. The horror and anguish Devon experiences as her first child is taken away is heartbreaking. And if a child is born a mind eater they are outcast from society. Treated as abominations they are enlisted to become enforcers for the book eaters.

The drive for Devon to protect her children resonates throughout The Book Eaters. Devon’s upbringing sheltered her from the real world. She is not the strongest or the most knowledgeable character, but she embraces the decisions she has to make in order to save her son. Making the choice to protect him means finding a way to keep him fed while searching for a tonic to curb his cravings for minds. And each new victim drives a wedge into Devon’s heart. She questions all she has done and fears she is forcing her son to become a monster.

The Book Eaters builds upon the foundation of vampire lore and upends it with a tale of survival and motherhood. Sunyi Dean has crafted a world of books, mystery, and intrigue. Devon's story is as much about saving her child as it is about saving herself. Readers who enjoy urban fantasy blended with gothic fiction should give this one a try. ( )
  Letora | Nov 18, 2023 |
WHEW! This had me glued from chapter one! Absolutely loved it. It's funny, I'm always a little hesitant over present day Urban Fantasy (UF here being things that take place in our world, rather than a portal fantasy or completely fictional universe) but damn, so glad I gave into the hype, this ended up being one of my favorite reads if the summer (and indeed year.) The worldbuilding aspect of Book Eater culture was fascinating and the plot was thrilling.

Another praise-- you know how when you read a thing alternating between flashbacks and present day, you're generally more invested or interested in one over the other? This story was a GREAT example of striking the perfect balance and juxtaposed those dual timelines *just right* to create a seamless portrait of Devon's life. I'm in awe. I cannot wait to see what Sunyi Dean does next, whether she revisits Book Eaters or crafts something new entirely.
  parasolofdoom | Oct 3, 2023 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (6 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Sunyi Deanautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Blackwell, SuArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Erich, KatieNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
James, JaronArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Stafford-Hill, JamieDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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We have just begun to navigate a strange region; we must expect to encounter strange adventures, strange perils.

― Arthur Machen, The Terror
She was a princess of the magic line. The gods had sent their shadows to her christening.

—Lord Dunsany, The King of Elfland’s Daughter
But where did the book eaters come from? There is no evidence to suggest they are a mutant strain of evolution at work. Yet they cannot always have existed, for humanity took thousands of years to develop paper-making technology.
The book eaters themselves tell wildly unbelievable legends of the Collector, an extra-terrestrial being who created them to look humanoid, and who placed them on Earth for the purpose of gathering knowledge (book eating) and sampling human experiences (mind eating).

But the Collector, so their bizarre story goes, never returned. Hence the ‘’eaters remain, remnants of an abandoned alien science project.

- Amarinder Patel, Paper and Flesh: A Secret History of Eaters
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For my mother,
who has been a force of nature her entire life;
and for my dear friend, John O’Toole,
who is something of a Jarrow.
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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.
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"Sunyi Dean's The Book Eaters is a contemporary fantasy debut. It's a story of motherhood, sacrifice, and hope; of queer identity and learning to accept who you are; of gilded lies and the danger of believing the narratives others create for you. 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"--

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