Obsession awaits – You’ll devour ‘The Book Eaters’

“The Book Eaters”

  • By Sunyi Dean
  • c. 2022, Tor
  • $26.99, 304 pages

You’ve consumed a lot of fairy tales in your lifetime.

Princesses on mattresses, princesses with glass slippers, princesses in towers, princesses and frogs, you knew them all before reality set in and you stopped dreaming about any sort of handsome prince. And that’s fine; in the new novel, “The Book Eaters” by Sunyi Dean, you’re absolutely better off without one.

As a child, Devon Fairweather’s days were spent in the Yorkshire moors near her family’s mansion, exploring the woods, and playing with her next-oldest brother, Ramsey. She didn’t worry about school because she was a book eater; nourishment and knowledge both came from pages of literature and nonfiction. She particularly loved the taste of fairy tales.

She’d been a fearless child, secure in the knowledge that princesses like her were rare and never punished as long as they kept quiet, married twice, bore two children, then gracefully withdrew. Devon’s brothers – and there were many – became knights or rulers of their family’s quadrant. Other children – those unfortunate offspring born with a mind eater’s curled proboscis – were whisked away at birth to become dragons because they could not be trusted not to kill.

That was the way it was. Like everything in the Family, it was as it’d always been, just as it was expected that princesses would relinquish their children – forcibly, if necessary.

Devon had lost her firstborn this way, and she vowed that it wouldn’t happen again. So, when her second-born cried with a tell-tale curled tongue and her husband prepared to send the baby to the knights, Devon weighed her options: find someone in the Ravenscar Family to give the boy curing medicine; hunt for him bi-weekly, until he could hunt for himself; or let the family have her son.

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