The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean | Book Review

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean 

Thank you to Indie Thinking for sending me a proof copy to read. 

(from Gardners) 

THE NO. 2 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER 'I devoured this' V.E. Schwab 'A vampire-themed Handmaid's Tale, with effective thrills that are intensified by social commentary' Guardian A gorgeous new fantasy horror - a book about stories and fairy tales with family and love at its dark heart...

A gorgeous new fantasy horror - a book about stories and fairy tales with family and love at its dark heart... Hidden across England and Scotland live six old Book Eater families. The last of their lines, they exist on the fringes of society and subsist on a diet of stories and legends.

Children are rare and their numbers have dwindled, so when Devon Fairweather's second child is born a dreaded Mind Eater - a perversion of her own kind, who consumes not stories but the minds and souls of humans - she flees before he can be turned into a weapon for the family... or worse. Living among humans and finding prey for her son, Devon seeks a cure for his hunger.

But time is running out - for her family want her back, and with every soul her son consumes he loses a little more of himself... This is a story of escape, a mother's savage devotion and a queer love that will electrify readers looking for something beguiling, thrilling, strange and new. Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, and Let the Right One In  


A dark and fantastical tale of family complexities, betrayal and love; one you'll want to devour.

I was pleased to receive a copy of this from Indie Thinking as I'd been hearing about it online and it sounded like something I would enjoy. It certainly didn't disappoint. 

The author does a great job with building up the main character, Devon, a female book eater, living in a human world but experiencing it very differently to how we do today. Raised in a Book Eater household, a rural manor house, away from humans. After just a few chapters you feel connected to her, even if she isn't human you get a sense of her strength and the pain that she carries in the present day. The chapters though all focusing on Devon, alternate between present day and the past, a clever way of helping us to understand what Devon went through as a child, as she grows up and becomes a mother; how she became the women she is in the present. What she goes through had me feeling a range of emotions and had me questioning what it is that makes a monster. The story though fantastical and based in a world where there are creatures such as book eaters and mind eaters, deals with some very human and real life issues, especially those faced by women. The complexities within families, oppression, betrayal, love between mother and child, to name just a few. 

"That's what fairy tales do to us. If we grow up thinking that we're princesses and someone else will rescue us, then we spend our lives waiting for that rescue and never trying to escape ourselves."

The book wraps up well at the end, though I was left with a few questions. It leaves off in a place that could potentially (hopefully) leave room for a sequel... I for one would welcome book 2! A prequel would be great too, I'd love more backstory on Book Eaters and Mind Eaters as a species. I feel like the world the author has built has so much more to give. 

The author, Sunyi Dean, does a fantastic job of combining fantasy and gothic horror with real life struggles that humans face. I believe this is her debut, if so I think it is a brilliant one. I would be happy recommending this book to friends and customers who like dark fantastical tales. It will make a wonderful autumnal read. 

4 out of 5 stars. 

The Book Eaters is available to purchase here, via  or here, via Betty's Books independent bookshop.