The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean: Compelling Twist

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.

Sunyi Dean has spun that rarest of creatures, a unique perspective on tradition, motherhood, trauma and how love can make villains of us all. It has a compelling twist to the concept of fairytales and vampires, for what is the hunger for minds but a type of vampire, ripping the very essence of a person out. With Devon, we have a dark heroine, queer and unapologetic for her actions, willing to risk everything for her son. It delves into the ideas of how the stories we’re told shape us, whether those stories are good or bad. And that story is so riveting that it is impossible to put down. 

Sunyi Dean layers the plot, weaving through Devon’s past and present as she survives being ground down into a system that continually fails and betrays her, never allowing her to be her true self. Even when she manages to escape, she is dragged back in. And yet, for her son, she dives into the heartache and despair of the Families and attempts to find hope in the darkness. It peels back the fairytale trappings to show the gritty, bitter underside and keeps you hooked until the very end. 

If you love a gritty, dark, compelling twist on society, vampires and fairytales, I truly found this riveting and intriguing. I loved the characters, none of whom are truly without failing but still are too compelling to look away. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 books. 

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