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the-devourers

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 aOn 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....

Title : The Devourers
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781101967515
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 306 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Devourers Reviews

  • Bradley
    2019-05-11 00:52

    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.

  • Heidi The Hippie Reader
    2019-04-28 23:35

    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 126It 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.

  • Althea Ann
    2019-04-26 20:31

    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. (view spoiler)[For quite a while, I thought Alok was a woman; from the way events unfold that may have been intentional. If so, well-done - but it appears that 'Alok' is a masculine name in India, so I'm not sure. (hide spoiler)] 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. (view spoiler)[Why would Cyrah go on a quest chasing after her rapist? I wasn't convinced, given what we are told about her situation and her life experiences, that she would do any such thing. (hide spoiler)]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.

  • Melanie
    2019-04-20 04:54

    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. Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Youtube | Twitch

  • Kaora
    2019-05-09 04:32

    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.

  • The Shayne-Train
    2019-05-15 00:42

    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.

  • Tori (InToriLex)
    2019-04-29 04:59

    Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex Actual Rating 2.5I 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.

  • Lena
    2019-04-28 00:31

    This was the most disgusting book I've ever read and I just 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.

  • Kogiopsis
    2019-05-01 03:44

    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.

  • Arielle Walker
    2019-05-04 03:49

    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.

  • Maryam
    2019-04-21 01:31

    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.

  • Carly
    2019-04-21 22:50

    "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." (view spoiler)[As becomes clear when we learn that Fenrir was originally female, it's no coincidence that the werewolves appeared as (white) men. Yet in this story of a woman trying to regain her agency, I found myself frustrated by the predetermined outcome, that Cyrah would keep the child. It still feels bitter to me, as though she lost her agency through that forced choice. I took a certain amount of solace in the son devouring the father. (hide spoiler)] If you're looking for a gorgeous, multilayered story, a folkloric quest interwoven with existential journeys, then The Devourers is well worth a look.~4.5~~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.

  • Aliette
    2019-05-17 23:52

    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.

  • Anushree
    2019-05-10 00:38

    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 fictionA 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 skinA 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.

  • Emily
    2019-04-30 23:50

    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.

  • Mike
    2019-05-02 02:48

    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.

  • Lata
    2019-05-11 22:37

    I was eager to read this book for a couple of reasons: 1) it's a fantasy, 2) it has werewolves/shapeshifters, 3) it's set in India during the Mughal empire and the present, and 4) it's written by an Indian. The story takes place in two time periods: the present, and in the mid-1600s, before the East India Company completely took over. This isn't a story about the EIC, though.This isn't really a review; rather these are thoughts that have been bouncing around in my brain since I finished reading The Devourers.-There are few characters in this story; in the present, a werewolf/shapeshifter and a Professor, and in the past, a woman and two shapeshifters.-The writing is beautiful and visceral, literally. There are fairly graphic descriptions of the rending and crunching of bodies and bones, presence of bodily fluids. This isn't a paranormal romance about werewolves with beautiful human faces and bodies, who spend more time being Byronic than ripping flesh from bones. When these shapeshifters transform in their 'second selves', they are massive, terrifying, and smelly beasts who hunt and eat humans. They are not pretty, and you really don't want to meet them, ever.-This brings me to Cyrah, the woman in the past in the story. She becomes entangled in the shapeshifters' lives because one of them, Fenrir, rapes her and leaves her pregnant, and takes off. Fenrir is exiled from his pack for his act because they can't understand why he would have sex with his food. Cyrah is furious and convinces Gevaudan, a shapeshifter who has been travelling with Fenrir for years, to take her with him so she can confront Fenrir.-The rape left me really uncomfortable. Cyrah had been travelling with a caravanserai, on her own, dealing with unwanted human male attention but managing. After the rape, she's motivated to chase after Fenrir. I felt really uncomfortable that the rape was used to prise her out of her life and move her in another direction. However, I also felt that Cyrah was no damaged little flower. She struck me as being very determined and forthright and tough during her initial interaction with Fenrir. She didn't become those things in response to being raped.-In the present, I felt really concerned for Alok in all his dealings with the present-day shapeshifter. Alok struck me as very lonely and sad, and desperate for someone to touch him and love him. The shapeshifter always struck me as terrifying and manipulative. I felt he was treating Alok like prey, like a cat batting a mouse around. Though Alok was clearly entranced by the shapeshifter, all I could think was "run!"-I was reminded of both Durga and Kali at one point in the book, personified by Cyrah and Gevauden.-I felt the story was a little longer in spots than it needed to be.As I'm still thinking about this book, days after I finished reading it, then I'd say it was one of the more challenging and oddly enough, beautiful reads I came across this year.

  • Ashley
    2019-05-16 22:53

    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]

  • Allison
    2019-05-12 00:59

    A lush, wonderful novel that delves into werewolf folklore from several different cultures, while also managing to be topical about gender, rape, and the nature of love. Longer review to follow later.

  • Sam Thompson
    2019-05-13 23:54

    As a whole, I have to admit that I did not enjoy this book. I can see and understand its compelling moments, but I found myself too often mired in the authors heavy handed metaphors on the nature of man, and the extreme and gratuitous violence (there's a pretty visceral difference between the gore in your typical grim-dark fantasy novel, and the overly detailed descriptions of the consumption of human bodies found here). I was also frustrated by the lack of variety the character interactions. Between the 5 or 6 central characters found in this book, all of them have the same basic verbal sparring match, sometimes more than once and sometimes with more than one characters. "Grr, I'm so mean" "Oh yeah!? Then why don't you eat me!?" "Grr, maybe I will". This basic repartee filled what felt like nearly a quarter of the book, and with a reprise of this exact same interaction sprung up for one last reprise in the last 20 pages, I nearly threw my book across the room. Besides these hindrances, the stories and themes within are compelling and left the book feeling like it had substance. I just wish I could recommend this to my friends without wincing.

  • Emma Sea
    2019-05-13 04:42

    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*

  • Chessa
    2019-05-12 01:38

    Literary supernatural. I'm having a little bit of, "What the hell did I just read?!?!" Wow. It was intense, mysterious, taut. The story is difficult to talk about without spoiler-ish consequences. It's a tale that's revealed slowly, one artichoke leaf dipped in salted butter at a time, sensual and slow - but eventually you do get to the heart. There are no huge twists, really - and I kept waiting for something to knock me off my feet. It's really more of a slow burn, but this isn't a bad thing.The writing is lush and descriptive - maybe a little too much sometimes (I've never had a book where piss was featured as prominently). This book surprised me in what it managed to cover - issues of gender, family, love, identity, sexuality, rape - much more than I was expecting. And there are no easy answers. But trigger warning for rape, for sure.I was weirdly grateful for how the rape was categorized as rape throughout - there was no shying away from it, no trying to romanticize or recast it in other terms. I kept wondering to myself if this book had been written 10-20 years ago, if the cold hard light of truth about the fact that it was rape would have been softened in some way, excused, made light of. I enjoyed the changing perspectives. There was no other way to tell this tale. It does get a little confusing toward the end, but deliberately so, I think.I have not read many books set in India, and I really enjoyed the setting here. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (is this disclaimer really necessary? I wonder every. Single. Time.)

  • Sebastian
    2019-05-15 01:48

    This... was a bit of a surprise. I feared that the beautiful cover and (mostly) rave reviews would hide a mediocre or even shoddy story, and I usually avoid werewolf stories because they are, for the most part, not scary, and I also kinda felt the trope has been beaten to death. But Das somehow manages to refresh things, using gorgeous baroque language to weave a continent-wide story of intermingled cultures (brownie points from Serbia for the vukodlaks) and identities. The detachment and otherness of the shapeshifters really shines through the dialogue - I could never guess in advance where any of the conversations would go - and issues of gender, abuse, rape are all handled with an adult and complex approach rarely encountered in fiction (but then the brownie points get taken away for the seemingly spliced-in gender-talk in the very last few pages). And yes, the story is full of blood, gore, piss and shit, as any story involving werewolves is supposed to be (so brownie points regained right away) - if that's not your cup of tea, I'm not sure why you'd be looking at a book about savage man-eating beasts and their exploits.

  • Meg
    2019-05-05 00:36

    3.5/5 I received this book last year as part of a Goodreads giveaway, and am just now getting around to reading it and reviewing it. I'm making a serious effort to reading and reviewing those review copies I get, and I feel like I read this at just the right time. I started it last year when I received it but couldn't get into it the way I had hoped. Sometimes we just have to wait for the right moment to read something!Anyway, I was initially interested in this book because The Devourers draws comparisons to Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman, two of my favorite authors, and I can see why it does. The Devourers is a violent, fantasy-infused exploration into India's shapeshifting mythology. If you are turned off by graphic mentions of violence and rape, then this might not be the read for you, but if you can stomach that sort of thing, then this might be something to consider picking up! Das explores concepts of gender identity and expression in The Devourers, and this exploration becomes really apparent in the last third of the book.The thing that bothered me the most was the rape and then the constant referral later on to the act. It felt like a third of the book just kept constantly referring to it in a very weird way, as if it affected the shapeshifter who did the act more rather than the woman who experienced it. I did like, however, that the woman brought up her assault every time the man who attacked her tried to dismiss his behavior. It's difficult to talk about, in real life and in books, and I think once I got to the end, I liked how Das wove it into the story.It's a very interesting story, very much a fairytale that explores the deepest, darkest parts of humanity, and once it's done sweeping you away, it leaves you with a lot to think about.Thank you to Del Rey and Goodreads for a copy of this book to read and review! All opinions are my own.

  • Cheri
    2019-05-10 01:58

    This is a really good book. Much more literary than one would think a book about shapechangers would be. I find myself, days after finishing, thinking about the nature of self, of society, of what it means to break out of what culture expects. Questions of love, what it is, and how the fantasy of love is so different from the reality of love. It's not a desire - it's an action.I loved Cyrah - her vulnerability, her strength, her rage and her love. And I loved Gévaudan, for reasons I won't tell you because they kind of spoil things. I even love Fenrir, because he reminds me so much of what our society has become. I pity him.And of course there is our main narrator, who introduces himself as a half warewolf, and Alok, to whom he tells the story. Alok is the novel's everyman, and he's good at that role. This isn't a book for everyone. There is a lot of violence, a lot of pissing, a lot of f***. There's rape and cannibalism and more - things that are, certainly, distasteful. But that's kind of how we are, if not in quite as obvious of a way. Most of the time, anyway.

  • Kdawg91
    2019-04-24 23:57

    When I was younger, I had a huge interest in vampires, mummies, and werewolves. I loved all the classic monsters, but in media today, I seriously dislike the changes and "sexing" up of these monsters. Monsters are by definition, monsters...they are not human, the feelings and thoughts and patterns of our mundane, short lives DO NOT apply to them.The Devourers is a fever dream of beautiful, brutal and bloody language, a look into the inhuman lives of shapeshifters or "werewolves." I read this book in one day and I am very glad I did. The characters in this story, even though strive in some cases to reach out and touch various aspects of humanity, are as far away from any basic concept of a human being as any other animal in the wild.Stunning writing set in a vivid world of characters that are totally fluid things. This book will grab ahold of you with gorgeous depictions of some very brutal things.I give this book 10 out 5 stars, it is totally worth your time.

  • Sukanya Venkatraghavan
    2019-04-24 22:39

    What an utterly strange, captivating book. And this review is purely emotional, I wont go into the plot, story or characters. Once I fully got into it, I had trouble putting it down. Absolutely riveting stuff. Don't get put off by the mildly confusing first few pages. Keep going. It is totally worth it. I am gutted, amazed and enchanted.

  • Malin
    2019-05-15 01:36

    I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book. It certainly wasn't whatever The Devourers ended up being. I'm still not entirely sure what I actually read. Let me try to provide a plot summary.While out for an evening in Kolkata, India, lonely college professor Alok runs into a mysterious and handsome stranger who claims to be a half-werewolf. He weaves a tale that utterly beguiles Alok and the professor becomes obsessed with both seeing the nameless stranger again, and hearing the end of his tale. He agrees to transcribe a series of notebooks for the stranger, all so he can meet him again occasionally. The first notebook tells the story of three shapeshifters from somewhere in Europe. They all seem to have come from different places, one from the far north, one from a distant France and one from Greece. These three predators travel together as a pack, hunting and feasting on the flesh of men, women and children as they move across the globe. They end up in 17th Century Mughal India, where Fenrir, the one from the north, becomes obsessed with a young prostitute, causing an irrevocable rift between him and his travelling companions.The second set of documents that Alok is set to transcribe appears to be the story of Cyrah, the young Muslim woman who is raped by Fenrir, a creature determined to reproduce, which his shapeshifting kind is normally unable to do. Cyrah is disgusted by him and unwilling to bear the child, but nonetheless wants to confront the creature who forced her, and have a reckoning. She allies herself with Gevaudan, Fenrir's former companion, and together they develop an uneasy truce as they try to track Fenrir through India. Alok is further ensorcelled by the tales he transcribes, correctly deducing that they narrate the origins of his mysterious stranger's parents. He is both repulsed and fascinated by the tale, trying to disprove what he's reading as fiction, even as he becomes convinced that the nameless stranger is telling the truth about the dark creatures who lurk on the outskirts of human society.There are several shapeshifting myths explored in the pages of this novel. There are the werewolves and other shapeshifter beliefs of Europe, and the rakshasas of India. It is a book that in parts absolutely disgusted me, as there is far too much graphic description of people being murdered, torn apart and eaten. There seems to be an inordinate amount of attention paid to all kinds of bodily excretions, be it piss, shit, blood or semen. Some sections of the book were incredibly slow and rather boring to me, whilst in other sections, the story flew by and I completely lost track of time.One of the things that disgusted me was Fenrir's arrogance, his casual rape of Cyrah and his conviction that he somehow loved her, and could make her love him in return. His determination to reproduce, and force her to carry his child to term, without any care for her wishes or bodily autonomy. Generally, with the exception of Gevaudan, who becomes a bit more sympathetic as the story goes on, probably because he tries to restrain himself from straight up murdering innocents while he travels with Cyrah, the shapeshifters are all utterly awful. I really wanted to give up on the book several times, but decided to keep reading to the end, no matter what, since this was the book I voted for in the upcoming CBR book club, and I was damned if I was going to DNF a book of a mere 300 pages when I stuck with The Count of Monte Cristo till the end.There are some interesting themes explored in this book, like the nature of gender identity and the ability to change shapes at will. It's clearly implied that some of the shapeshifters have been female, but they seem to have been harder to accept by the others. All the shapeshifters, be they werewolves or rakshasas, seem to have strange, semi-incestuous sexual relationships, where the ones that nurture the young also are the ones that intitiate them into sexual rites. This was yet another aspect that didn't entirely sit right with me. I liked the bits about Cyrah and Gevaudan and the friendship that developed between them. Most of the other parts, I had to force myself to finish. I'm rating the book 3 stars, because it's clear that it is doing something different and unusual, and I suspect the book just isn't for me. Like The Lobster, which I saw last year, a movie that is pretty much universally hailed as brilliant and super funny, and which I still haven't been able to make up my mind about, but that I'm pretty sure I didn't, in fact, like (I just cannot get over what they did to the dog), even though parts of it made me howl with laughter. In yet another example of how small the world really is now that we are connected via the internet, I'm pretty much certain that this book was written by the brother of someone my husband and I befriended years ago on a Hellblazer fan forum. When I added the book to my Goodreads TBR list last year, said person liked my status. I didn't really think much of it, as this sort of thing happens all the time. But they share the same surname, and some Facebook snooping later has convinced me that yes, my internet acquaintance Abhimanyu, who I've discussed many nerdy things with online for years, and whom I've chatted with in the pub on one of our visits to New York, is indeed the brother of the author of this book. It just makes me even more sad that I didn't like it more. If you ever read this, Abhi, I'm really sorry that your brother's book didn't work for me. I didn't hate it, but I certainly have no wish to ever re-read it. There were way too many gross parts (and the whole rape thing) for me to ever want to do that.Judging a book by its cover: While I'm deeply conflicted about the contents of this book, I absolutely love the cover. What I can only assume is Cyrah, the unwilling victim at the centre of the tale, with the scroll telling her story, the leaves, thorns, berries and flower, not to mention the bone-like branches make the book look wonderfully mysterious and inviting. The cover was one of the things that drew me to the book and I still find it striking, even though I'm coming down on the dislike of the actual book in the end.

  • Austine (NovelKnight)
    2019-05-19 02:52

    I came into this book with few expectations outside of a standard akin to the aforementioned Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood. And, in all honesty, it was that piece of the description that made my decision on whether I would read it or not because the synopsis alone hadn’t been enough for me. I loved Gaiman’s Stardust – in fact, it is likely one of my favorites – but this book was definitely not on the same level as the authors Indra Das is comparing the writing to.The Devourers is a flowery-worded narrative detailing a history professor, Alok, and his chance meeting with a man who claims to be a half-werewolf. The store progresses to Alok helping this stranger to translate pieces of his history. As a whole, the premise is interesting and would likely make for a great story if not for the story’s perchance at putting me to sleep.No doubt it is an unpopular opinion but the author’s writing style was too much for me. There are two different types of dense writing for me. One falls in with books like A Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings where there is just so much detail about everything that it can become less about the story and more about the world – I call it world writing (yes, I’m horridly creative). The Devourers falls into what I consider flower writing where the author seems to be more focused on making a statement about the world or society through metaphors and visceral details that mask the actual story.I felt no connection to these characters. The professor held too much of an obsession with the stranger from the beginning, so much so that by the end when a key point of his character is revealed (a real WTF moment that made no sense for the way the story and Alok were written), I didn’t care. I felt no inclination to see anything past the story ending.What I found the most off-putting was those details I mentioned before. Personally, I have no problems with blood and gore, with a sex scene played out in full. I’ve seen it before and likely will again. But unlike other books, I was disgusted by several of the scenes. They read in such a primitive way I think my dogs would find them gross (and considering the things I’ve seen my dogs do, that’s a small wonder). Once again the writing was conflicting as technically, it was well done and everything came into perfect detail but then again, it was a bit too perfect.I can see why others might enjoy this book but I do not recommend it to anyone who dislikes the more gruesome aspects of life. There was a lot of potential hidden in these pages, with a rich history and mythology that never really had its chance to shine due to a far less compelling story. I almost left this book as unfinished but pushed through to the end in the hopes that it would get better. And to that end, The Devourers frankly wasn’t a book for me.

  • Rani
    2019-04-23 23:51

    What's with all the descriptions of urine? This is, for the most part, a beautifully written book, but for whatever reason, it feels like there is constant talk and description of piss. Once or twice, I could understand, but it's pretty gross and jolted me out of the narrative. And there are several narrators throughout the book, so it doesn't really make sense that every narrator would be like "and he pissed and this is what it smelled/ felt like." It made it seem more like a weird authorial tic than a genuine character voice. As a warning, there's a sexual assault fairly early on in this book. I'm going to put my discussion of it in spoiler tags, since it contributed to a lot of my conflicting feelings about the book.(view spoiler)[ So Fenrir rapes Cyrah. I almost stopped reading at this point because I was worried that we were going to be stuck with the POV of a rapist for the entire book, which I didn't really want to read. And we weren't. Fenrir's actions aren't excused by the narrative, and it's really Cyrah's story that the manuscripts focus on. However, this did make it more difficult for me to get invested in Gevaudan and Cyrah's relationship. Because I wasn't in love with the idea of this woman who had been raped traveling around the country with the lover of the man who raped her. Furthermore, while Fenrir raping Cyrah is rightly condemned, Gevaudan has some questionable actions towards Fenrir early on, which aren't fully addressed. Fenrir makes it clear that he doesn't want to have sex with Gevaudan, who takes Fenrir's refusal as a challenge. He eventually backs down but Fenrir "wonder[s] whether he'll try to hurt me in my sleep." Now maybe Fenrir is supposed to be a unreliable narrator. And maybe it's just a different time period, and werwolf culture is different than human culture. But that left me a little uncomfortable. Not to mention Gevaudan's initial attitude towards Cyrah. I don't know if these are objective criticisms of the book so much as reasons why I had some trouble getting on board.(hide spoiler)]I liked Alok. He was vulnerable and curious, flawed yet sympathetic. He spends most of the book typing a manuscript, so some of his sections were a little slow, but I still thought he was the best character. And he seems to have some of the same conflicted feelings towards the manuscript that I did, so I appreciated that. I might have preferred reading a book that really focused on him as a character. I also loved that this book takes place in India! Again, for the most part this book is beautifully written and the descriptions of the setting are vivid and fun to read.And there were a few scenes that were really great. But for the most part, I just didn't feel particularly invested. I don't know exactly why, but I just didn't care enough about what was going on. Due to the strengths of the book, I'd be open to reading what Indra Das writes in the future. But this one didn't quite do it for me.