‘The Book Eaters’ is a literary meal worth devouring

The dark fantasy novel by Sunyi Dean deals with several difficult topics, most notably ableism and motherhood


Courtesy Book Riot

‘The Book Eaters’ by Sunyi Dean is a dark fantasy novel about a princess trying to keep her son alive from those intent on killing him because of his differences.

In Sunyi Dean’s “The Book Eaters,” we are introduced to a world where eating books is normal.

The fantasy author, who is on the autism spectrum, has dreamed up a world in which a race of creatures consumes books in order to fully digest their knowledge and wisdom. In this world, our heroine, Devon Fairweather, is a rare breed. She is a female book eater, of which there are not many, so her future involves arranged marriages to bring together families.

Of the many themes Dean touches on in this book, is one about the challenges parents face when raising a disabled child. When Devon grows up, she has a child named Cai, but he is not a book eater, but instead a mind eater. This “disability,” which entails Cai eating brains to survive, puts the child in danger, and Devon finds herself in terror trying to save his life.

“The Book Eaters” is an emotional rollercoaster in a fantastical world. It relates to the real world because lots of children are abandoned due to traits beyond their control. Readers will find this interesting because it is relatable and taps into our empathy.

Something that I wish would have gone in much more depth was the relationship between Devon and Jarrow, another Book Eater. I found the relationship between them very compelling as she could be who she wanted with him, and even got to find out more about her sexuality. The author had more potential in the development of characters. And while I did see the feminism in the story, I wish there were more focus on character building.

“The Book Eaters” was not my cup of tea, but it is exciting and emotional. It was a very good debut novel for those interested in exploring motherhood, dark fantasy, queer identity, sexism, and ableism.

“The Book Eaters” is currently available in bookstores, and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites.