The Devourers by Indra Das
Published by Del Rey
Publication Date : July 12th, 2016
Available as eBook & Hardback – 306 Pages
Source : NetGalley – Thank you!
For readers of Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, China Mieville, and David Mitchell comes a striking debut novel by a storyteller of keen insight and captivating imagination.
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.
I’m not going to lie, this one took me forever to read. Why it took so long we’ll never know for sure since this should have been something I gobbled up like candy. It’s incredibly hard to review this without spoiling the plot, and because of that it’s incredibly hard to even talk about it but I’m going to give it a shot just hitting the high points as best I can.
The story itself is not what I expected but I enjoyed it. Even the setup of the first section of the book left me confused till we meet the real main characters of the story. The structure on this was cleverly done, taking someone who will definitely be unlikable and villainous to most readers and introducing him and his story first gives us almost – but just barely – some understanding of his motives. It gives us a reason for his actions and that add a surprising depth to the story. In the end of course I hated the guy and I loved everyone else, but that initial setup gave that hated individual depth.
This book for me was about the characters so the story and characters go hand in hand. It was so focused on them and their struggles and what was happening to them. The frame felt tight on our very select cast even though it was spread across time and over journeys. This definitely beefed up the story, pulled you into their struggles without allowing you to realize it. I finished it and had to take a week to decide if I loved or hated these people. They aren’t, any of them really, likable but I could definitely cheer for them and they grew on me.
The only place I struggled with this was just in pacing, and honestly this rolls back to the fact that I’ve struggled with my reading on Kindle. The flashbacks between the narrative of present day to that of the past slowed the tale down for me. Though by the end I was clamoring for both stories to end. I had become invested in both but it took a very long time to get over the pacing and build-up.
The writing itself is beautiful and really captured the settings both in the past and future. That rich setting and the characters that won’t get out of my head made this strong for me even if I struggled through it at times. It reminded me of The Wolf In The Attic, which I really enjoyed earlier this year. I definitely will read more by this author (in print form), and even more in this setting. I really recommend this, especially if you haven’t read anything with this setting.