I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book, and so when given the opportunity to have an early listen to the audiobook, I jumped right at the chance!
So thanks to the author, as well as Macmillan Audio/Tor Books via NetGalley for the audiobook review copy.
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.
This is an interesting book that tells the story of Devon, who is a Book Eater. A Book Eater is exactly what it sounds like, they are people who consume books as food. Book Eaters live quite reclusively in the Yorkshire Moors, and grow up eating classic fairy tales and dictionaries. Female Book Eaters are married early and often, as they are much more rare than males and reproduction is very important to their people. When Devon’s son is born with a rare kind of hunger for human minds instead of books, Devon does what she can to help him, and adventures are had.
I enjoyed this one a lot. The idea of a type of people who can’t read, but who eat books as food and retain the information of what they eat is interesting. Information as sustenance. This idea is fantastically realized in this story, and I found the setting and characters really easy to imagine. I liked the prose and the dialogue a lot, and Devon was a great character to follow on an adventure.
The narrator, Katie Erich, did a fantastic job. I was looking her up to see what other audiobooks she might have done and found out that she is deaf, and it’s still kind of blowing my mind a little. Not to say that a deaf person can’t narrate a book, because clearly she can and has done so very well, but my incessantly curious neurodivergent little brain popped up a whole mess of questions. How do you review what you’ve done? Do you just have to have the confidence to roll with it, or trust someone to say that was good? How did you learn to do different accents?! How do you learn how to pronounce weird words like ouroboros?!? *mind explodes* Someone asked me if the narration is in a Yorkshire accent, and yes it is. The narration was wonderful. I hope she narrates more in the future!
So, all told, The Book Eaters was a great listen, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone that likes interesting and unique Urban Fantasies, books set in Britain, or books about books! This was an absolute banger of a debut! 5/5 stars!
Someone just sent me this review (Katie Erich here). Thank you for such kind words and to answer your questions – it was a difficult process but also very much a trust the process kind of job. I grew up hearing and was deafened as an adult so kind of knew the accents by muscle memory, but had zero clue how to say some of the words in the book so that was completely different. I recorded the audiobook book wearing headphones and some of the words that I was unsure of were recorded by Sunyi before we started the recording session so we would play them directly into my ears each time we got to that line so I knew phonetically how it was meant to sound before I recorded it.
Completely agree that this is an absolute banger of a debut and looking forward to it being released in the U.K. this week!
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oh wow, thanks for the response. that’s so awesome!
I hope that it does amazing on release!