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The Devourers

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On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

306 pages, Hardcover

First published July 12, 2016

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About the author

Indra Das

19 books171 followers
See also Indrapramit Das.

Indrapramit Das (aka Indra Das) is a writer and artist from Kolkata, India. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in several publications including Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com, and has also been widely anthologized. He is an Octavia E. Butler scholar and a grateful graduate of Clarion West 2012. He completed his M.F.A. at the University of British Columbia (class of ’11) in Vancouver, where he wore many hats, including dog hotel night shift attendant, TV background performer, minor film critic, occasional illustrator, environmental news writer, pretend-patient for med school students, and video game tester. He divides his time between India and Canada.

Indra has written about books, comics, TV and film for publications including Slant Magazine, VOGUE India, Strange Horizons and Vancouver Weekly.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 973 reviews
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
April 29, 2016
I can't honestly say that it is a completely unique experience to say that I've been consumed by a story, but I can honestly say that I've never consumed and been consumed by one in equal proportions.

This one hit me in the feels, and I can't quite say that I've ever really been taken in by the whole werewolf phenomenon, and although I have enjoyed the whole idea of burning life and and desperate death struggles, no particular novelization or film has quite done for me what this novel accomplished to do.

What has this novel done, you ask?

Imagine, for just a moment, that you're sitting down at your favorite coffee bar, exhausted and still half-asleep, perhaps after a very long night of listening to some raucous music and feeling lonely, when your coffee is placed in front of you, and you taste it, only to find that it is piping hot blood, and not coffee at all. Shocked and also unsurprised at the same time, you don't spit it out, instead, you savour the rich and heavy taste, amazed at the memories the scent conjures, and equally thrilled to learn that far from being some old blood, it's fresh, and oddly enough, you can even taste the beat of the racing heart within your cup. You drink deeply, and the cup continually refills itself, as heady as cream, as sweet as death, but absolutely overflowing with all the little details of life flashing before your eyes, or perhaps it is just the last moments of your victim as you drain his or her stories from the cup of his being, consuming not only his life, but his language, his custom, his soul, his very anima, and you make it your own. Far from being upset from this seemingly slow transformation from your first self to your second self, you see nothing wrong at all. It is the most natural thing in the world to devour the story, and even as you startle from your drifting memories of anguish, you pick a piece of flesh, perhaps the sinew of gut, from between your teeth, and you look up to see the glowing green lanterns of the eyes of your new companion who offers you your own death in kind, and you find, to your surprise, that you are still more curious than afraid, discovering that you would rather know than go without even this, perhaps the last of all the stories you will ever consume.

Do you understand? It's this feeling.

It also doesn't hurt at all that I was enraptured by the setting, living in Kolkata, India, in both modern and a time several hundred years ago, both, as a consumer of stories and a consumer of the past and the almost consumed of the present. I never once felt out of danger as a reader, and it was entirely the fault of the language that the author used. More than anything, this stream of words and evocative detail made the novel one of the richest, densest, and most revelatory of horror/fantasy novels I've ever read. It doesn't rely on plot, although the echoes of other plots haunt me even now, oh Durga fighting the Demon, oh Fenrir and his "love", oh Cyrah.

And don't misunderstand me on one fact: this is *not* a werewolf story. This is a story of all the nameless demons that refuse to be pinned down in the world. This is also about rakashas, devi, djinn, gods and goddessess, Banbibi, Bandurga, Bandevi. It's about Imakhr and Valkyrie, too.

And also, don't let me discourage you, because this is also a very simple tale. The difference is that it is told very deeply. :) I'm frankly in awe.

And I'm riding the high within a wave of blood.

Thanks goes to Netgalley for the delight of reading this beautiful book.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,594 followers
January 11, 2022
Wow. Nominated to me as part of the "rec me 12 books" challenge, though it had been on my want to read list. Very glad I bumped it up because this was a terrific book. Very intense writing, lush and horrific and physical. The story centres on two werewolves and a human woman in the Moghul era, and is framed by the modern story of an academic and a werewolf. It's about love and exploitation, colonialism and queerness, myth and culture. Creating and devouring and who does the devouring. Absolutely not a romance, for the avoidance of doubt, though it centres on three different stories of love and one of something that isn't love.

NB that a rape is at the heart of the story: on page, not very explicitly shown but frequently referenced. Because the greed of men devouring women is very much what this is about.

Magical, compelling, tremendous stuff. I loved it.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,388 reviews1,468 followers
February 7, 2017
A wholly original shape-shifter tale that also delves into identity, gender roles, and love. Alok is a college professor who is approached one night by a person who claims to be more than a man. Alok doesn't believe the stranger until an unbelievable vision, caused by the man's hypnotic words, appears in Alok's mind. Suddenly, the stranger's claims that he's a werewolf don't seem so far fetched. The stranger, who won't reveal his name, has a job for Alok, the transcription of an ancient narrative that was written by a shape-shifter, a creature of magic and blood that consumes humans like prey. Through his work on the story, Alok comes to know the stranger and a world that is beyond anything he ever dreamed.

If rape, gore, or graphic sex bother you- you may want to pass on The Devourers as it contains much of all of those things. The heart of the story, about what makes a man, a man and a monster, a monster, are worth the read, but I can see how this book may not be for everyone. "Listen," he repeats. He is not looking at me. "I am going to tell you a story, and it is true." pg 8. Personally, I thought that The Devourers was magical, but repetitive. I understand why the author took us in loops and it did lend a beautiful symmetry to the work, but I thought, in a couple different places, that yet another gory kill or another description of blood or urine running down someone's leg wasn't needed. "And here where we stand, long before India, before its empires and kingdoms, there were human tribes who identified with dogs and wolves, with wild animals. And there were, and still are, tribes who are not human, who identify with humans in similar ways. Who take the shape of humans, just as humans took the shape of animals by wearing skins." pg 16.

Indra Das' vision of shape-shifters as different from each other as people from different cultures was fascinating. By presenting his magical creatures in the manner that they were remembered by the humans they fed upon, he fit the mythologies of a myriad of different countries into one story and it was a perfect fit- the shape-shifters in deserts became the djinn, the ones from Europe were werewolves or vampires, the ones in India were tigers or demons. "To me, to my kind. You are prey. ... Something to kill, and sustain us." "You are cannibals then." "No, we do not eat our own kind. We eat you, little Cyrah. You keep forgetting-we are not human." We are the devouring, not the creative." pg 126

It was in the "devouring, not the creative" mindset of the shape-shifters that Indra explores the traditional roles and balance of power between men and women: "Women create. Men inflict violence on you, envious and fearful, desperate to share in that ability. And it is this hateful battle that keeps your kind extant. You have taught me that your race's love is just a beautifully woven veil, to make pretty shadows out of a brutal war." pg 213. One of the main points of this story is that this particular view is not true, but you can see how a creature that only continues to exist through constant violence, could interpret the relationship between the sexes like that. Love and hate are opposite sides to the same coin after all. "I've never loved a man in my life, but I'm not fool enough to think that there are no men and women in this world who truly love each other, and love their children together, and did not conceive them through violence and pain." pg 225.

I haven't begun to plumb the depths of what The Devourers is about, but I don't want to ruin this complex fantasy for anyone who's interested in experiencing it for him or herself. Recommended for readers who like their fantasies to have an adult edge and a grittiness to them. Some similar reads: In the Night Garden, The Last Werewolf, or Hyde.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,046 followers
September 6, 2016
I really thought I was going to love this one. A story of werewolves and the mythology of India, from a graduate of the prestigious Clarion writers' workshop? Sign me right up!

Unfortunately, Indra Das' writing just didn't capture my imagination the way I expected it to. In style, this is more of a literary allegory on gender, relationships and identity than it is a fantasy or horror tale, so if that is up your alley, your mileage may vary accordingly.

As our story opens, a young college professor, Alok, meets an enigmatic stranger at a social gathering. Alok finds the stranger alluring enough that his far-fetched tales of being "half-werewolf" make him find him more intriguing, rather than just causing him to be written off as a crackpot, and the professor accepts a commission to translate an old collection of documents.

These documents, which form the bulk of the book, tell the story of a being who may or may not be the stranger, but which clearly shed light on his story. In the past, we learn of a shapeshifting race - maybe werewolves, maybe djinni, maybe something humanity has never quite understood - who have lived secretly among or apart from humans, preying upon them, for untold aeons. The society of these beings is shaped by strict rules governing fraternization both with each other and with humans. When these rules are broken, tragedy and violence follows.

I think I would've liked it more if there was more complexity to the plot, but the events of the past boil down to an ill-fated love triangle, with plenty of poetic angst about unrequited feelings. (with lots of mentions of 'piss' thrown in to make it feel gritty?) The major event that the plot hinges on didn't convince me.

Meanwhile, in the present, there also isn't any reason for our enigmatic werewolf stranger to choose to reveal this hidden past to the professor. Sure, there's sexual attraction, but the revelation of secrets seems unnecessary. The plot point is really just a vehicle for what felt to me like a rather self-absorbed musing on sexual orientation and gender identity, with Alok's character a stand-in for the author.

(Still - how beautiful is that cover?!?!)

Many thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
Profile Image for Nicholas Perez.
439 reviews96 followers
December 28, 2022
I am not one to post content or trigger warnings but here they are: Gore, disembowelment, cannibalism, death of children and babies, rape (not depicted on page), urination, tasting urine, homophobia (challenged), sexism (challenged), body horror, swallowing semen, acute transphobia (challenged). And that's just what I can remember.

Ultimately, The Devourers is a visceral, graphic story switching between modern and Mughal-era (1600s) India. It begins when a professor named Alok is approached by a man claiming to be half-werewolf. Alok is drawn to the stranger, but when the stranger gives Alok some historical documents to transcribe that's when things get stranger. The documents are translations of original scrolls, written on human skin, describing the events around the shapeshifting werewolf from Scandinavia named Fenrir, his French companion and occasional past lover Gévaudan, and the Muslim Persian woman Cyrah whom Fenrir raped and impregnated.

It is a rough, carnal, and hard book to read. Underneath it all is a discussion of bisexuality, gender fluidity, the relationship between man and woman, who is foreigner and native, and what of humanity is truly savage.

Alok follows the stories of Fenrir and Cyrah and the stranger--it's fairly obvious that the stranger is Fenrir and Cyrah's child from the beginning. They are the ones who wrote each scroll at different points. It begins when Fenrir rapes Cyrah because he thinks he loves her. He denies that he raped her and impregnated her; this violates the shapeshifter laws, not because it is rape, but because he copulated with a human. After the rape, Cyrah experiences visions of people taking care of children, something that she feels violates her. She along with the French shapeshifter Gévaudan go after Fenrir to get revenge.

One of the most haunting things about the shapeshifters is that they eat people. They hunt them, disembowel them, and eat them. When they do so they absorb the memories, thoughts, and souls of those they devour. The visions of people taking care of children Cyrah saw were the memories of mothers and fathers whom Fenrir had eaten. The shapeshifters have two selves: the first is their human shape which can change, the second is their true, monstrous form that they use to hunt and mate.

Throughout the novel, Alok, Cyrah, Fenrir, and the stranger wonder at how truly bestial the shapeshifters are and how close to humanity they are. As I said, this is a graphic novel. The shapeshifters do all sorts of explicit things. When Cyrah rides the second self of Gévaudan, the prose explicitly talks about how his thick, sharp fur cuts her and makes her bleed. There is A TON of urinating scenes; I am assuming this is because wolves and dogs do this to mark their territory in real life. The reason Fenrir raped Cyrah is that he thought he loved her and wanted to create life, Cyrah rebukes him saying having sex and siring children does not make one in love or a father and that he is inhuman. Fenrir shoots back that he learned all this from actual humans, whether from watching them or devouring them.

Fenrir cannot differentiate between human love and hatred. A very haunting observation, even if he is a sociopath.

Wedged between this is some commentary on how men view women. It gets a little meta with how Alok points out how Fenrir wrote about Cyrah in his scroll. That is obviously a commentary on how men write and interpret women, though Das (who is a non-binary man, I believe) does not get pretentious about it or blow smoke up his own ass about it as most other male authors do. Cyrah outright tells Fenrir that he is the reason why women are so terrified about men in the world and that true love between men and women does exist. Cyrah slowly becomes friends with Gévaudan over the course of the book, something Gévaudan himself is resistant to at first because 1) she's human and 2) he is fighting the urge to devour her. It's implied that he wants to devour Cyrah so he can morph into her visage and have Fenrir love him.

Thankfully, Gévaudan pushes these reasons away and does fight for Cyrah against Fenrir. Subtly, Cyrah and Gévaudan's relationship becomes one of the most equal relationships in the book, proving Cyrah right and subverting everything Fenrir thinks. Adjacent to this, there is constant mention throughout the Mughal-era portions of the book about the women related to the then Mughal emperor of the time Shah Jahan and how they inspired or influenced him to build certain structures in the empire. This is more than a commentary on how the women behind the men are used by said men to further things in society.

However, something occurred at the end of the novel that both devastated me and left me confused. The stranger, named Izrail, shows Alok what happened to Fenrir and Cyrah. After Cyrah gave birth to Izrail, she left him with a tribe of shapeshifters. She did not return to human civilization though; she and Gévaudan remained on the outskirts of both human villages and shapeshifter tribes watching Izrail be raised by the tribe. Eventually, she and Gévaudan are deified as a goddess and her vahana (mount). When Izrail became a young man, Cyrah finally met him and revealed to him who she was; she sent Gévaudan back to Europe. Izrail denies that she is his mother but eventually learns the truth: he is half-human, half-shapeshifter; in-between and something forbidden.

Cyrah tells him to devour her. Izrail doesn't want to, but he does. And he sees everything about her. His tribe leader, whose first self is a woman but whose second self is intersex, punishes him and throws him out. Then Izrail meets Fenrir and fights him. Fenrir loses and asks Izrail to devour him, and when he does the revelation comes out: Izrail sees all of what Fenrir has done since becoming a shapeshifter, all that he has killed and devoured. And it is here that we learn that Fenrir was not originally a man. He was born a woman who then shapeshifted into the first man she killed so that she could both love and create and have power.

And it is here where I was left totally dumbfounded. The book talks about the power and monstrosity of men, but then we learn that the biggest monster in the entire book was initially a woman who changed because she wanted to do so many things...I don't know how to feel about this.

Alongside this, we learn that Alok is bisexual and is genderfluid and that for these reasons he was shamed by his parents and society. When he and Izrail have a tryst he senses everyone and everything, including Cyrah and Fenrir, in him. He mostly longs for Cyrah and how her story possessed him. When Izrail leaves him he is saddened but hopes to see him again in the future, possibly in the physical form of Cyrah. Cyrah the human who gave birth to a half-creature, Cyrah the woman who became a goddess to some. The novel ends with a large paragraph talking about how Alok has become so many things and people: human, animal, man, woman, divine, shapeshifter, in-between, bisexual, neither man nor woman and both, Cyrah, Fenrir, Gévaudan, and Izrail.

At the end of the day, this book is a 3.75/5 stars for me. It is one of the few visceral and thought-provoking looks at being bisexual, gender fluid, a man, a woman, and someone who does not fit within any schema. However, some of the carnal scenes of the book were a bit excessive and the revelation about Fenrir leaves me uncomfortable. This book wrecked me.
Profile Image for Lena.
1,152 reviews253 followers
December 7, 2018
This was the most disgusting book I've ever read and I recently finished Dreamcatcher, King's ode to farts, diarrhea, and shit weasels.

This was worse.

I wanted to say nice things, like this is an interesting story somewhere between Interview with the Vampire and an LGBT Donna Boyd tale. Now all that's true but this is a male author and he's decided to literally PISS all over that story. Hot, asparagus, UTI level piss. Oh yes, he brought the stink.

This story was brought to you by the letter P and the color yellow.

"I feel its heat, smell its pungent musk of blood-spiced piss and shit and mud-caked hair..."

"taking his hardening penis in his hands and pissing a steaming circle around his clothes. The rising smell of his waters fills my nostrils, pungent, clinging to the winter air as the ground melts to frothing mud."

"The smell of it was overpowering. It smelled like birth, the birth of god or demon, raw and animal and steaming in the morning air. Sweet and musk, like frankincense and myrrh; heavy and pungent, like the juice of living things, blood and piss, sweat and spit; rancid and fecund, like waste, shit, and earth. It stank of both life and death, both so intoxicating I found myself flushed with my own blood, my heart aching."

"He sits on his haunches and runs his fingers through the [piss] wet ground, sniffs them...The stranger takes his fingers and puts them to his mouth, sucking them clean loudly."

I could go on and on. Kindle said the word came up 32 times but it smelled like more. The author even felt the need to stink up the sex.

"I become accustomed to his pungent carnality—the raw sea-smell lingering in his armpits and hair, the ammonia-and-cinnamon scent of his sweat and saliva, his hunger"

Even writing this review is turning my stomach. Ugh.

May 12, 2019

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There are two types of people in this world: those who like vampires, and those who like werewolves. I've always been a vampire gal, but there's something intriguing about shape-shifters and that blurring of the line between humanity and beast. That's why I was excited to find THE DEVOURERS in the Kindle store, a book about rakshasa, or man-eaters/shape-shifters, in India. The cover was gorgeous, the summary was intriguing, and it promised to be dark and fantastical - plus, it's non-Western fantasy, and I want to try and support that, because there is not enough of that.

THE DEVOURERS was everything I thought it would be and more. Don't be fooled by the three star rating. Three stars means I liked it but probably wouldn't reread it because it has some flaws. Even so, it's worth the first read. It has Interview with a Vampire vibes from the Gothic beginning, when a college professor named Alok is approached by an attractive young stranger claiming to be "half-werewolf." He tells Alok a story that ensnares him like the first hit of an addictive drug, and Alok is desperate to meet again.

There are several characters in this book. Alok and the stranger are the foundation for the story, and the bookends that hold all the stories-within-stories together. Within the stranger's tale are many other characters, including a Muslim woman named Cyrah, a Norse shape-shifter who calls himself Fenrir, a French shape-shifter named Gevaudan, and the son of a forest demigoddess named Izrail. Even though the book is relatively short, it has an epic feel, and each story builds into the other. Sexuality and gender expression are also very fluid, which makes sense because of how these werewolves digest their victims (including their souls), and also because it seems like time would erode a lot of the hang-ups that anyone would have about sexuality and gender, anyway. I liked that a lot.

If this book has a flaw, it is that it is hard to read. The POV switches can be confusing, and even though the writing is gorgeous and it mostly works, it can be confusing at times. I think people who have trouble paying attention might have trouble following who's talking. The pacing is also uneven. Most of the story was amazing - that beginning, tho - but the middle is a major slog.

Anyone who's looking for something dark and different and who enjoys paranormal fantasy would enjoy THE DEVOURERS. It's got Indian and Muslim characters, LGBT+ characters, and a really strong and fascinating female character who has some of the best lines in this book. The story-telling and writing are reminiscent of Tanith Lee, who is one of my all time favorites. I'd love to see this author write a follow-up about vampires, or some other well-known monster with a twist.

3 to 3.5 stars
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews926 followers
December 16, 2021
We are the devouring, not the creative. That is humanity's province, and we've gone beyond human."

The Devourers Explores Myth, Morality, and Werewolves in India - B&N Reads

I wouldn't have found this book without its cover. To me, it spoke of intrigue and mystery in a faraway place. Luckily, Indra Das's The Devourers follows up on the promises made by the cover. In a coffee shop in Kolkata, India, our protagonist, a college professor named Alok, is approached by a stranger who tells him that he is not human. Instead, the stranger is something more akin to a werewolf. After this startling confession, he commissions Alok to transcribe historical texts about the race of shape-shifters to which he belongs. How are the transcribed tales relevant to the present and how do they serve to bring Alok and the stranger together? That is part of the intrigue. Who is being devoured? There is a lot of world building going on that was fascinating. However, some of the stories felt repetitive, along with the gore, violence and rape. Still, The Devourers was an engaging change of pace from traditional shape shifter stories. 3.75 stars
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.8k followers
June 23, 2017
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Devourers is a twist on Indian folklore that is an absolutely wonderful representation of different cultures, gender issues, bi-sexuality, unconventional love, masculinity, and even rape. This story has werewolf folklore from many different cultures, too. I think this book would appeal to many different readers that read my reviews.

I'm going to be rather vague in this review, because I think this book is probably best read not knowing anything about the actual story. What I will say is that this is a story about a man, Alok, that meets a mysterious stranger in Kolkata, India. This stranger begins to tell him a story. This stranger will later ask Alok if he will transcribe this story for him. Alok finds himself absolutely obsessed with this tale, and finds it impossible to say no. From there the story will shift from what is being transcribed, to Alok and this stranger's relationship in real time.

This story deals with, and conquers, so many hard topics. This book is mostly centered on a rape, and there is never any question on whether or not it was consensual, mistakenly consensual, or any of these tropes that authors like to romanticize rape into being. There is no forgiveness or understanding, it is just depicted how it truly is—unforgivable.

This book really touched me, and gave me a lot of feelings. This book doesn't shy away from hard topics. It's actually hard for me to believe this is Indra Das' first book, because I'm so impressed with the feelings he was able to evoke from me, while constructing this excellent and well thought-out novel. I can't think of the last time I've read such an impressive debut book, and I can't wait to read more from him.

The only negative thing I can really say is that this book does read a little slow in some of the transcribed parts. That didn't stop this from being an amazing and magical read for me. From the stunning cover to the last page that left me utterly astonished, I was completely enthralled. This was a wonderful book that I completely recommend if you want something unique, that feels fantasy, and is very thought provoking.

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Profile Image for Kaora.
585 reviews283 followers
July 20, 2016
Honestly I picked this book up because of the cover. It is gorgeous and the blurb instantly caught my attention being compared to some big name authors.

I was hoping for something like Uprooted, it being a story of Indian folklore. However it was nothing near what I expected.

So let us start with the good.

The tale was alright. I did enjoy learning about werewolves in cultures across the world. It is so interesting that so many different cultures all have a word for these creatures, and their own stories surrounding them.

The writing is pretty good. The author does have a way with words that you can easily picture what it is he is trying to convey in all its glory.

He ran straight into my jaws as I leaped from the water, drenching him in a final blessed rain before his death. He fed the water and the mud a deep and rich red of holy dread. I drank, the meat and bone between my fangs, the soul trapped, making my second self bristle in waves.

This normally would be a good thing. However, it backfired on him because he seemed to talk about piss and shit a lot. More than any other book that I have read... EVER. And quite honestly it was kind of gross. I REALLY don't need to read about the sharp smell of piss more than once in a book if at all.

It just ruined a good book for me.
Profile Image for The Shayne-Train.
365 reviews94 followers
June 3, 2016
I don't even know how to review this. This book is amazing, and unlike anything I've ever read.

Ostensibly a "werewolf" novel, it is so, so much more. First of all, the term "werewolf" is sort of a misnomer. Consider it more a shapeshifter novel, mostly told by way of flashbacks and journal entries. Secondofly, the POV changes often, letting you see all sides of the story. And when I say it changes, man, I mean it changes. Sometimes mid-paragraph or even mid-sentence towards the end when the pitch reaches feverdream and pulsethought.

I love it when gore and beauty can exist simultaneously within lovely prose and deplorable actions.

Throw away anything you thought you knew about lycanthropes, and come meet the true monsters of our world.
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
772 reviews1,497 followers
June 13, 2016
CONTENT WARNING: This book, and by necessity this review, contains discussions of rape.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No outside considerations went into this review.
All quotes are taken from a galley copy of the book, and may differ from the final printed version.

It's been over a month since I finished this book, and I've been putting off writing a review for it because I just... don't know what to say. Partly this is because The Devourers deals with heavy, uncomfortable subjects, many of which I'm unsure how to approach in a review; partly it's because this book is such an incredible experience that I don't want to give too much of the game away in talking about it.

This is fundamentally a book about what it means to be monstrous. Monster-as-allegory is an old concept in fiction, but... I feel that its most common use has been to designate that which is other, in behavior and appearance. In a way, such metaphors export the worst aspects of humanity to non-humans, allowing a writer and their audience to engage philosophically with ideas but never asking them to accept that such monstrosity could be found in someone they know.

We see this in politics, as well, every time people try to attribute gun violence to mental illness despite the fact that mentally ill individuals are far more likely to be victims of violent crime. Perhaps it's human nature to want that separation - I can certainly understand why, in the event of something horrific, people would want to distance themselves from the perpetrators. But in a lot of ways - especially in fiction which purports to explore the darker side of human nature - I find it dishonest.

This is a book about monstrosity, both of strangely eldritch werewolves and of humanity. It... there's no way around this: it's a book about rape.

I don't want to disclose too much of the plot, but I think that does need to be mentioned first. One of the key events of the story, which happens early on, is one of those eldritch werewolves raping a human woman. It's told first from his perspective, and he attempts to justify it extensively. I expect that for some readers this will be a deal-breaker, and that's understandable. It is every reader's prerogative to avoid works that may be traumatic.

Truth be told, I considered not finishing the book at that point, but in the end I'm glad I chose to continue. Part of what motivated me to go on was the fact that earlier, in a frame narrative told in the voice of a different character, Das had shown an awareness of consent. Part was a suspicion - confirmed later - that the story would later be told from the woman, Cyrah's, perspective. I don't wish to spoil her story, and obviously reader viewpoints will differ, but I can say that I felt like Das handled her reaction and subsequent action deftly and respectfully, and that the question of what she wants for her life dominates the latter half of the book.

The frame narrative, too, validates Cyrah. This is significant - the structure of this book is such that the frame narrative characters are interpreting and responding to the framed stories, and this allows Das to offer new perspectives on them. "Am I supposed to be sad for the narrator here?" one asks, angry at the treatment of women in these stories. There is a sharp awareness, a meta-commentary, to this frame narrative, and it's put to excellent use.

Back to the metaphor of monstrosity. One of the most powerful lines in the book is this:
"He raped me."
"I know," he said. "Like I said. Human."

It would have been so easy for Das to write as if rape were an act of inhuman monsters. Instead, one of those very same monsters attributes it to humanity. Das's werewolves are terrifying, bloodthirsty, vicious predators of our species - but they are predators, their actions animalistic, their rituals marked in blood and urine, and all of their violence is animal. Human violence is treated as something wholly different from what they do. It makes the story more uncomfortable, allowing for no pretense on the reader's part that such actions are separate from our own societies and history.

At the same time, though, this is a story about recovery and moving forward, and it's not wholly pessimistic towards humanity. I would love to be able to quote some of Cyrah's dialogue later in the book, but as I mentioned - I don't want to give anything away.

There are other elements that are significant in this. Race is one - the book takes place in India, past and present, and the majority of its characters are not white. The werewolf who rapes Cyrah is one notable exception, and the fact that he is a white European man attacking a brown Muslim woman is not ignored. Gender and sexuality also come into play, particularly at the end of the book. Appropriately for shapeshifters, nothing about the werewolves is set in stone beyond their personal choices - but they're not the only characters fluid of identity or presentation.

I think I struggled to write this review for so long, not just for the reasons I mentioned before, but also because it's fundamentally a book that asks for introspection from its readers. What does it mean to be the people we are? What, or who, made us that way? What values do we hold, and what choices have we made that may contradict those? It... left me pondering, with a deep sense of weightiness, and that's a hard thing to convey in a review. I'm still not sure I've done it justice. I hope I've encouraged someone to read this book, at least.

One last thing - Indra Das ends this book with a lovely Acknowledgements section, which I read through because... that's just how I roll. The last line of these acknowledgements had what I find to be one of the hallmarks of a thoughtful content creator: "I'm willing to listen and learn so I can do better next time."

Between that attitude and the incredible quality of this debut novel, Indra Das is definitely an author to watch.
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,169 reviews1,140 followers
April 1, 2018
If I could give this book six stars, I would. I did not remember the last time I feel shell shocked after reading a book. I found myself rather breathless at the end, I felt I was going to cry.

This book felt personal. Maybe because the setting - India and Indonesia are both colorful, lush, fragrant lands and the supernatural tales woven in this book remind me of my own childhood, with all the stories of those who hunt us, human, the weak ones.

At first, The Devourers looked like a rip off of Interview with the Vampire - but instead of a vampire and a journalist, we got a 'werewolf' (designated name for specific supernatural being to be clarified later in the book, for now let's just use it for familiarity sake) and a history professor. Then, then it grew into something more.

Interesting that we perceive the shapeshifters differently based on our culture. The Europeans might see them as werewolves, the Muslims as djinns and the Hindunese as rakshasa. In my culture, we just see them as demons, 'setan', 'jadi-jadian'. And no matter what we call them, fear of something greater that could devour you is the common factor. Yet, we are fascinated with them. If not, there won't be thousands and thousands of vampire and werewolves stories out there, ranging from the whiny sparkling ones to the utterly monstrous, formidable ones. (This book has the later, thank goodness).

All the POVs in this book are so engaging. The proses are beautiful. The writing is atmospheric. All the setting - even the ever-dreadful travelogue (that I usually despise with gusto) - are viscerally enchanting. All the tales, the hardships, the emotions, the legends - they devour me, immerse me, bury me in the throngs of blood, spit, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids ever known.

This book is something to savor. It is a page turner but you just have to consume it slowly until you can taste every morsel and lick the juices until the last drop.
Profile Image for Tori (InToriLex).
463 reviews367 followers
August 4, 2016
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex
Actual Rating 2.5
I expected an action packed narrative based on Indian Folklore, however the pacing and excessive gore led to disappointment. Alok is a relateable protagonist, but most of the book is the battered notebooks he is transcribing. The tale describes gender fluid shape shifting beings, their way of life, powers and superiority over humans. The narrative is interesting but was presented slowly and didn't engage me. The character development doesn't show up until half way through the book so I struggled to connect with the characters. I was determined to finish this book, but it took much longer then usual.

"It feels reckless and wonderful, as if pouring out the details of my past intimacies to him might make them new again."

The gore described was overwhelming at times. Some of the described violence and death was unnecessary because it didn't move the plot along. Despite this the book did include some good discussions about gender and the importance of women. While I usually enjoy reading about progressive and diverse characters,  forcing myself  to read about them took away some of that enjoyment. The tale was unique, but I couldn't emotionally connect to how these characters felt . Things happened but weren't fully explained. I wanted to learn more about shape-shifters had developed their way of life, but was disappointed with the sparse descriptions.

"Women create. Men inflict violence on you, envious and fearful, desperate to share in that ability."

The last third of this book is when I finally started reading the book I expected. After a slow build up and character development I wanted to know how this tale would conclude. But it wasn't enough to make up for laboriously having to go through the first two thirds. I loved the ending, it tied many moving pieces  together well and left a lasting impression. The writing was good, but the change of perspective within the same chapters was jarring at times. If you enjoy learning about Indian folklore, and can deal with a slow paced beginning you could give it a try. However I wouldn't recommend this for most readers.

I received this advanced reader's copy from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Aliette.
Author 265 books2,034 followers
June 16, 2016
I loved this book. In Kolkata, the narrator Alok, a middle aged professor at university, meets a man who professes to be half-werewolf, part of a population of shape-shifters that hunts down and kills humans, devouring both their bodies and their memories. The man gives the narrator a manuscript to transcribe, the story of shape-shifters Gévaudan and Fenrir; and Cyrah, a woman who gets raped by Fenrir, finds herself pregnant (to shape-shifters, an abomination not because of the rape, but because one doesn't sleep with prey), and is taken by Gévaudan to hunt down Fenrir, with whom Gévaudan is in love. In the present time, a slow dance of fascination starts between Alok and the nameless half-werewolf. It is completely believable, and I love how the half-werewolf is shown as both human and not--a dangerous lover who would as soon snap your neck than make love to you.

It's a very raw, creepy detailed story that kept me turning the pages until quite late at night, and the writing style, the wealth of details and the characters are all spellbinding and visceral. The mythology of shape shifters with their second and first selves, and the growing relationship between the shape-shifter Gévaudan and the woman Cyrah in the manuscript story strand, are among my favourite parts of the book.

However… the very last chapter threw up a couple of things I felt uncomfortable with. Your mileage may vary, but I feel I should mention them. I'll try my best not to do spoilers.

The first is when it's revealed Fenrir was originally a woman, and heavily implied that both his fascination with human love, and the rape of Cyrah that results from this, is linked to this first, almost forgotten nature. It's uncomfortable because there are so few female shape shifters (insofar as I recall we only see one other one, and in a minor role), and to have one of them be villainous because of her gender made me quite ill at ease. Also, for a woman to be seeking "love" (while men seek prey) felt a little too close to gender essentialism to me?
The other thing is that this last chapter ends up making a parallel between shape-shifters and genderqueerness--one of the characters dresses as a woman and parallels are drawn between that and shape shifting. I can see what the author was trying to do, but it ends up being a little uncomfortable as well because drawing parallels between the monstrous/fascinating nature of shapeshifters (who prey on humans and eat them) and actual existing genderqueer people doesn't sit quite right with me.

As I said--your mileage may vary (and I'm not genderqueer!), but I feel I should mention this.

I would definitely recommend you read this book if you're into dark, bloody and gripping fantasy, albeit with the caveats above.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books749 followers
January 18, 2020
This was a really cool concept with an ambitious scope. I applaud the author for that, and for trying so hard to honor so many different stories at once. But I don't think it had quite cooked long enough. I had to do a lot of the work to swallow this book, and if you'll allow me an extended metaphor, it didn't quite sit well.

CONTENT WARNING: (just a list of topics)

Things to admire:

-The concept. Shapeshifters through time, connecting lore, making new gods, a tribe of their own among the flocks of humans. Very rich soil for ideas.

-The honesty. The author doesn't flinch away from hard truths and exploring how they would stay with someone through their lives.

-The organization. I thought it was a clever way to tell the story and use the timeless conceit of someone transcribing someone else's words.

-The setting. It's always fun to go someplace new in fiction and I have not spent much literary time in Kolkata.

Things I did not particularly love:

-The writing. It is ROUGH. It gets better after the first 10% but it reeeeally needs someone to have beta read this.

-The dialogue. Oof. Painful. At turns repetitive and obtuse, sometimes pivotal sometimes bloat, this is not how people talk, and while I can appreciate that not everyone is human, they're all people.

-Worldbuilding based in exposition. All we learn about the cultures and times are through weird confessions between characters.

-Lack of polish. The transitions were clunky, the reveals confusing rather than illuminating, and the formatting uneven. All the good stuff is there, but I had to prospect for it.

-The ending. Not a bad idea but the lack of set up makes it feel a bit tacked on, and that's a shame.

An interesting, quick story by an imaginative and compassionate person whose inexperience with storytelling and this confounding absence of editors that really mark our era make it a bit bumpy.
Profile Image for Maryam.
720 reviews124 followers
July 20, 2022
What a surprise this read was! When I first started this book and up to first 30% I didn’t thought even for a second that I’ll add this book to my favorite shelf. yah I am touched by this book!

Once in a far town called Mumtaz Abad a trio of shapeshifters each from one part of Europe walked past a young Persian woman sitting in a courtyard of a caravanserai!

Fenrir the shapeshifter, werewolf, monster who loves humans. He is a devourer who wants to create, to have a child, to love but love is forbidden for their kinds.

Cyrah the young woman, giver, who was raped but her life spared, something that shouldn’t have happened as she was the pray.

I found the first part of story which is told from Fenrir point of view somehow frustrating and I didn’t enjoy it at all but when Cyrah’s story started I couldn’t put it down and I felt like I was living this story, it wasn’t just reading it.

This is an unsettling and raw but beautiful book. It's hard to believe it's just the first book of an author. Don’t expect a werewolf story as this is not one. You will read about so many concepts openly put in this book: rape, bi-sexuality and love.
919 reviews255 followers
March 6, 2017
This was nearly so, so incredibly good.

I'm not much of a one for "werewolves", though shapeshifters when done right can be a whole other story. The Devourers really is a whole other story. I haven't read anything much like this before, though now that I think of it The Incarnations does come to mind. This is (a very small amount) less horrific, and (a very large amount) more beautifully told, however - not counting the fact that it's a different culture, different setting, different story entirely. It's more of a tonal thing I guess.

The tales within the tale are rough and raw, so vivid I can still feel the grit and grease and spice even a few days after finishing. If I was rating this only based on those stories, this would be a solid five stars - but at the same time, for all the relative weakness of Alok's scenes, they are essential, glue to hold the rest together. It just felt like a let-down each time, re-entering the "real" world (Alok's world), and in the end... well I don't think it's a spoiler to say it doesn't really go anywhere in particular. Which is actually ok, but that uncertainty needed a little more toughness to really be worthy of the rest.

On a purely grammatical note, I wish there had been some tighter editing - so many phrases had clumsy repetitions, and with writing so mesmerising each one felt like an electric shock.

But wow. This is Indra Das' first novel? Because when it was good it was fucking magical (yes, both words are necessary in that description). Plus that cover is yet more proof that illustrated books are hugely underrated.
Profile Image for Anushree.
54 reviews82 followers
December 26, 2015
It is not everyday that one comes across a delectable dish of a book which one eats up in a single go, impatient because it is so good, but sad at the same time because it would be over soon, and then can't get over its taste for months to come. One goes around town, asking every eatery if they have that dish, with its richness of texture and the amazing burst of every single ingredient that one can taste with each bite, and one is offered many a things, but never exactly that. One then sits down to make a list of all which made that dish so very unearthly, in hopes of recreating that dish oneself, perhaps? One doesn't know, and comes up with the most prominent of those tastes:
A handful of speculative fiction
A base made out of 17th century India jumping intermittently to present day India.
Three werewolves (or shape-shifters, as they prefer to be known), from three different European countries (France, Greece, and an unnamed Scandinavian nation).
A young girl carrying a supernatural child she's not sure she wants.
A mysterious stranger with a centuries old story written on a scroll made out of human skin
A college history professor who agrees to transcribe these stories for the stranger;
And an age old tale of gods and myths, spanning centuries and continents, of what it is like to be human.
But there are still layers upon layers of these ingredients one misses, simply because they're best off being merely felt, and one cannot put them on paper, try as one might. And then a time comes when the lingering taste makes a place for itself in the trove that one keeps ever so close to one's heart and calls it nostalgia, and a long time passes before one finds oneself in a remote corner of the world sitting in a cafeteria and taking that first bite which would send one off on that incessant search once again.

The Devourers is that book, a brilliantly and eloquently written tale of how these lives collide in a cosmic-level explosion, and where humanity and gender and sexuality and animalism are ever transient. Indra Das deftly handles his readers with gorgeous prose and incredibly vivid imagery, transporting them to Mumtazabad and Calcutta and the Sunderbans one after the other, giving them a tour de force of a debut novel and cementing a place for himself as one India's biggest speculative fiction authors, if not the world's.
Das' research into the myth of werewolves and their origins across cultures brings out a level of academic depth which would enable enthusiasts to pursue these highly intriguing supernatural creatures even more thoroughly, while the book as a whole is a gentle yet forceful paradoxical tale which seems set to be read by generations to come.
Profile Image for Gabi.
698 reviews123 followers
July 25, 2019
This was beautiful!

Carnal, cannibalistic, vulgar, garnished with frequent mentions of excretions – but beautiful! I have no other way to describe it.

Indra Das‘ prose manages to entrance, to paint a vivid (and bloody … and other fluidly) picture of a story of two interwoven lives. It is hard to describe this novel, it has to be felt. There is a lot of abhorrent stuff going on , yet nothing of this is just for the shock of it. All of it is relevant for story- and character-building.

I listened to it on audiobook and the voice of Shishir Kurup for the male POV is perfect, just perfect! I was mesmerized by this voice, which embodies the spellbinding atmosphere of the story and the emotional turmoil of the narrator marvellously. He sucked me into the story in a way a pure eye reading would probably not have been able to.

There was a part in the middle with the woman POV where I had the feeling the story started to drag, but as soon as the male POV took over the hypnosis worked its way and at the end I forgot that I wanted to subtract a star for this. – Because the end is … well … just beautiful!
Profile Image for Carly.
456 reviews185 followers
July 6, 2016
"I am the monster in your tale."
The Devourers is an utterly unique story, a lyrical, dreamlike, all-consuming experience. It's a story within a story, interwoven with metaphor and symbolism. On the most mundane level, it's a story of monsters, of shapeshifters, a story of rape, of what happens after, of how a woman victimized by a monster seeks to regain empowerment. The Devourers spans many eras, but the backbone of the story takes place in modern-day Kolkata, where a jaded historian meets a fascinating stranger with an enthralling tale. The historian undertakes the task of transcribing some ancient manuscripts the mysterious stranger gives him, and these in turn give us the stories of a band of monstrous shapeshifter and the human woman Cyrah. Through the historian's transcriptions, the story of the devourers is told in the voices of maidens and monsters, all set against the lush backdrop of Kolkata:
"A king of wolves in a land of tigers."

The book is lavish with symbolism and imagery. Devouring and shapeshifting take many forms throughout the novel, with meaning layered upon meaning and intertwined with symbolism. It's an examination of rape and victimization and agency, and also a fascinating exploration of gender fluidity. It's hard to read the story without drawing parallels between the werewolves and imperialism in India. As Cyrah says of the (white, European) shapeshifter,
"He took what he wanted, with no regard for my opinion on the matter."
If you're looking for a gorgeous, multilayered story, a folkloric quest interwoven with existential journeys, then The Devourers is well worth a look.


~~I received this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine, in exchange for my honest review. Quotes were taken from an advanced reader copy and while they may not reflect the final phrasing, I believe they speak to the spirit of the novel as a whole.~~

Cross-posted on BookLikes.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,115 reviews112 followers
September 14, 2022
This is an interesting and unusual mix of fantasy, historical fiction, mainstream literature, and gay romance by an author from India Indra Das. As I understand, India, like many other countries (from Ukraine to Spain to name just two) doesn’t have a formed SFF market for local writers, resulting in fiction that cannot effortlessly fit into Western genre divisions. I read it as a part of monthly reading for September-October 2022 at Speculative Fiction in Translation group.

The story starts with the narrator (author?) in present-day Kolkata meeting a man, who presents himself as a half werewolf. Werewolves are a part of European folklore, not an Indian one, and this surprises the narrator, who feels an affinity with this man. The half werewolf starts supplying the narrator with what he claims are modern translations of old notes written by his relatives, and the story shifts to these stories which take part in the seventeenth-century Mumtazabad.

The story cleverly mixes European werewolf and vampire lore with the jinni of Persia and the rakshasa of India to create a mythos about tribes of almost eternal man-hunters wandering the globe.

I was pleasantly surprised by the book, for it is much more than just another run-of-the-mill fantasy. Initially, I was warned by other reviewers that it contains a lot of depiction of emitting bodily fluids, and while, yes, both spitting and pissing happens during the story several times it hasn’t grossed me, except when it was the intention of the plot.
Profile Image for Em.
256 reviews59 followers
June 3, 2016
Holy shit. This is the queer feminist genderfluid South Asian anticolonialist own-voices shapeshifter fantasy novel you didn't know you were waiting for. Remarkably well-crafted, imaginative, and moving.
Profile Image for Devann.
2,439 reviews138 followers
August 7, 2019
[edit 8/7/19: I still think about this book a LOT so I decided to bump my rating up to 5 stars]

"I will not be your human idol, your little goddess of suffering. I am not all human women. And you would do well to remember that while you devour and rape and preach and lament that humans will never love you."

actual rating: 4.5

This seems to be one of those books that you either hate or love and i almost didn't pick it up because it seems to have so many mixed reviews. I can definitely see how it wouldn't be a book for everyone, but I'm so glad that I decided to read it. If I had to compare it to something else I would probably go with "Indian werewolf Interview with the Vampire" except like ...actually a lot better written and also by someone who seems to have an actual understanding of race and gender roles throughout history. But you're not reading this review to listen to me drag Anne Rice.

I guess let's start with the stuff that might turn people off of this book. Yes, there is rape in it. One of the shape-shifters rapes a human woman and then tries to justify it, but soon after that the narrative switches to the woman's point of view and continues with her story and the narrative is definitely 100% behind her all the way. If you don't want to read a book that has rape in it at all I completely understand, but in my opinion this book handles the subject well.

Also there are a lot of bodily fluids in here [especially piss] and it gets incredibly vulgar sometimes, so I can see how that would be a turn-off as well. I don't think it's done without purpose though. A lot of time they are scent-marking things [hello, werewolves!] and other times it's kind more used as symbolism or a mirroring device as this book deals heavily with the topic of the nature of man and man vs. beast etc.

The writing style is very interesting and fluctuates between incredibly descriptive almost purple-prose and then incredibly vulgar things like I mentioned above. I think this works for the story though because like I said a lot of it is about the duality of man and what makes someone human or a 'monster'. I also really like what he did with the shape-shifter mythology. Basically all shape-shifters from every mythology are one race and they choose different forms based on what area they come from. It was definitely an entirely unique mythology that I haven't seen before.

If you are someone who likes a narrative that jumps around a lot and focuses on several different stories and focuses more on characters than action, then you will probably like this book. It does a lot of really interesting things with gender roles and sexuality as well that I really enjoyed. Definitely not for everyone, but if it sounds at all interesting to you I would say to give it a chance. Also the audio is just wonderful and both the narrators do an amazing job but the female narrator in particular has a very good emotional range.

I'd like to close out this review by leaving you with the longer version of the quote I used above just because I like it so much and feel like it really encapsulates a lot of what goes in in the book and with Cyrah's journey in particular. As I said before, I listened to the audio so I transcribed this while listening so it might not be exactly as it appears in the text of the book and any mistakes are my own:

"Those things you said before about my kind, that human men and women only war and rape. The worst thing about you is that you almost make me want to agree with you, with everything you say about my kind. But you're not human. You've no right to say such things. I do, but I'll never say those things. I am one woman. I am not all women. [...] You bring out the bitterness in me. You bring it out like a fountain. All you do is make me remember rape and agony and hatred and forget every other moment in my entire life in which I loved. In which I loved my dear mother and laughed with her and marveled at her courage, at how much she cared for me. [...] And I cried with happiness and not hatred and sorrow and fear. I've never loved a man in my life, but I am not fool enough to think that there are no men and women in this world that truly love each other and love their children together and did not conceive them through violence and pain. I will not be your human idol, your little goddess of suffering. I am not all human women. And you would do well to remember that while you devour and rape and preach and lament that humans will never love you."
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
557 reviews140 followers
October 3, 2022
Interesting concept about shapeshifters (half-werewolf!), who are vaguely immortal and take on the bodies of others. Some good stories. The book was a bit more literary than I'd expected, with good sensory descriptions but flat dialogue. An interesting sweeping historical story, with footnotes.
Profile Image for Claudia ✨.
507 reviews355 followers
March 24, 2020
“Intimacy lies in the body and the soul, in scent, in touch and taste and sound. A man whose name you don’t know can tell you a tale to move you to tears, just by filling and emptying his lungs, by moving his tongue and lips, his fingers. Even after, you might never know him.”

I don't really know where to begin. I've never read anything even similar to this strange tale that Indra Das has woven. The Devourers was repulsive and strange, it was poetic and alluring, it had me hooked from the very start and refused to let me go. I hated it. I loved it. I doubt I'll ever forget it.

The Devourers is more than just one story, or just one plot; it has a before, and an after. We begin one winter evening Kolkata, when a regular man named Alok is suddenly approached by a stranger, who claims that he is a half-werewolf. This stranger proceeds to tell Alok a tale that enchants him, a tale of creatures that can be called werewolves, shapeshifters, djinn or rakshasas, that feeds on humans and their memories. Soon Alok finds himself completely devoted to the story of these beasts, and that of one specific woman who found herself among them.

Das writing was both gorgeous and unique, but it did take me a short while to get into the complexity of his writing properly. Still, even though my reading was a bit slow in the beginning, I was so intrigued by the story that Alok - and me - was being told that I pushed through. And I am so happy that I did.

Out of the two stories being told in The Devourers I must say that Cyrah's was my favorite. They were closely intertwined, yes, but even though it pained me to see what she went through, I just couldn't help loving her voice that even though it told me of these mythological creatures, spoke of humanity.

I'd also never read about a relationship like the one Cyrah shared with Gévaudan, and it was even more special because of that. Although all the characters were complicated and fascinating, I would have loved an entire book dedicated to those two.

”When it comes to love, we’re both blind maggots squirming in the mud.”

This book simply had a special feeling to it. It definitely wasn't always enjoyable, but without me really noticing it though it grew on me, and as I read the last page I felt that it had truly been an experience. That ending really ensured that The Devourers would never leave me. Now, I only wish that Das would write more raw magic like this so I could devour that too.
Profile Image for Mike.
404 reviews102 followers
June 25, 2017
This was a very interesting book to read. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read – I thought parts of it were forced – but nonetheless I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while, I can tell.

My thoughts on this are somewhat disjointed, so this review’s going to be a little scattershot.

* This book is set in India, alternating between present-day Kolkata and the 16th century Mughal Empire. I know very little about India, to tell the truth; this is the first book I’ve ever read set there, and I don’t think I’ve seen any movies besides Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom (which I really think shouldn’t count). I want more. I hesitate to use the word “exotic,” because it’s a real place where people live and not a zoo exhibit, but this really was very interestingly foreign to me.

* The book reminded me a lot of Interview with a Vampire (the movie; I've never read the book). The frame story is of a college professor in Kolkata who befriends a half-werewolf and records his parents’ stories.

* The werewolves themselves were absolutely fascinating. They have their own culture and tribes and societies, living on the edges of human society, and preying on us mortals. And in doing so, they not only eat humans: they also absorb their memories and something of their personalities. It makes for a fascinating culture. The story kicks off when one werewolf, fascinated by the human concept of love, takes it into his head to mate with a human and father a child – something forbidden by werewolf customs.

* Gender and sexuality. The human woman mentioned in the above bullet is a key character, and she’s got a LOT to say about issues of sexuality, consent, and a patriarchal society in general. It’s particularly relevant to India, which has a big problem with rape in general, but plenty applicable to Western societies as well. She’s a very feminist character in the Song of Ice and Fire mold: hugely constrained by a very sexist society, but a fully realized and powerful character with her own agency and resentful of the structure of society that puts her at the bottom of it. She’s just an awesome character in general.

* Criticisms. The frame story dragged on a bit in places; parts of it I enjoyed a great deal, parts of it I just wanted to get through to get back to the heart of the book. There are places where I feel like Das didn't quite know where to go next, and it wanders around a bit before he finds the thread again. And there are aspects of the ending I wasn’t a huge fan of, but I’m not going to get into that because of spoilers.

Overall, this was a really interesting one, and I’m very glad I finally read it.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,768 reviews1,768 followers
April 13, 2017
Well, I think I’ve put this review off long enough, and it will be a short one, since our fantastic discussion in the CBR book club last month covered a LOT of ground.

The Devourers is certainly an original take on werewolves, I’ll give it that, but this book was just not for me.

I get intellectually what it was going for, and in parts I was engaged, but overall, I just didn’t care. At the beginning of the book, I actively disliked it. As many have said in their reviews, for me it got better once the book switched narrators to the female character, Cyrah. And even then, I still didn’t *really* care, maybe because by that time the book had already lost my trust. Perhaps if the whole book had been written from Cyrah’s perspective, but the author clearly was going for something a bit more ambitious than just a story about one woman. He wanted to span lots of time, and comment on things I guess he couldn’t have without multiple narrators or a frame story.

It kind of upsets me that I think a better book could have been made of this, if it had just been about Cyrah, so I’m going to stop thinking about it now.

This book is also . . . intense. The imagery, the violence. And it abounds with toxic masculinity. Ultimately, while this wasn’t really to my taste, I saw its purpose, and it didn’t bother me. It’s very much a style thing, and one style doesn’t (can’t, shouldn’t) work for everyone.

I don’t know if I would read any books by this author in the future. This was his first book, and first books can be rough, so I guess I won’t say no. But any book of his will have to be properly vetted by people I trust first. They shall be my book guinea pigs.

[2.5 stars rounded up for the middle section]
Profile Image for Emma Sea.
2,190 reviews1,076 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 21, 2017
I tried. I really tried. The writing is gorgeous, but it just couldn't hold my attention. Reading it continued to feel like work. I only made it to page 43. I am a bad reader *hangs head*
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