The Devourers by Indra Das

August 4, 2016
Book Review, InToriLex, The Devourers, Indra Das
Published By: Del Ray on July 12, 2016
Format Read: Kindle Edition (320 pages)
Genre: Adult/ Fantasy/ Horror
Series: Standalone
Source: NetGalley
Rating: TWO POINT FIVE STARS
The Devourers
~Amazon~
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.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

REVIEW: 

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Indra Das (aka Indrapramit Das) is a writer from Kolkata, India. His fiction has appeared in publications including Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Strange Horizons, and has been widely anthologized in collections such as The Year’s Best Science Fiction. Das is an Octavia E. Butler scholar and a grateful graduate of the 2012 Clarion West Writers Workshop, where he wrote under the tutelage of Kelly Link, George R.R. Martin and Chuck Palahniuk, among others. 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, freelance editor, writing mentor, tutor, minor film critic, occasional illustrator, environmental news writer, pretend-patient for med school students, and video game tester. He never wore any actual hats, except a toque during winter. He now divides his time between India and North America, immigration-willing.

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

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