Review Detail

Featured
Young Adult Fiction 522
dark and enthralling YA fantasy
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
WHAT WE DEVOUR is a dark and thrilling YA fantasy about monsters, men, politics, and revenge that left me reeling. In a world where demons are held back by a magical door, humans have created a society built on wealth and oppression. The ideal of being able to attain anything if you work hard enough is touted but false, as those in the lower rungs are always meant to be oppressed. Lorena was raised in the Wallows, the poor part of the capital, where she watched her mother die due to poor factory conditions after working long days and barely being able to afford necessities.

Her mother told her to hide herself and escape, and this is what Lorena did, heading to Felhollow where she has worked as the undertaker, also taking on some healing. Lorena is a dualwrought, someone who possesses both noblewright and vilewright. This is very rare, with the Sundered Crown being the only other dualwrought currently known to exist. All wrought must be handed over to the government for binding, thought to be too dangerous to leave unbound. This binding forces them to use their magic in the way that those who control them allow. If they go outside of that, they will die painfully.

Lorena is unbound, a rarity, as people generally turn over the wrought for binding. When she is caught by the Heir, he makes a bargain with her to protect the man he intended to arrest in exchange for her help with the door. As she works for him and begins to understand her and other's wrights, the questions that she must help decide will change her country forever.

What I loved: This is a really dark and twisty read, and the way it evolves only gets darker and twistier. I absolutely could not figure out what would happen, and I loved that Lorena and the other characters frequently surprised me. The themes in this book were particularly thought-provoking, especially when thinking about power, politics, and corruption. As characters attempt to gather power, they change in different but selfish ways, and Lorena is no different - though her selfish goals are her own. I was fascinated by her evolution, as she becomes something different, darker, and more ruthless.

In a world with magic that makes almost anything possible for the right price, these balances can be twisted in ways that make the price equal to the outcome. I found this really intriguing, and this is something I would definitely want to discuss with other readers. The limits are nebulous, as the characters do not fully understand the wrights, but it still says something interesting things about cost, value, and balance.

This is a book filled with villains, and I found them really compelling. We watch everything through Lorena's vantage, and we see the driving motivators, the selfish needs, and the ways that these twist into the ultimate behaviors. The Heir was an interesting character who develops in different ways than Lorena but evolves quite a bit. I found their connections to be really intriguing and their actions to be intense and challenging.

An element I found really intriguing was in the gender representation of the book. All characters were referred to as they/them when first met until gendered (not explicit stating of pronouns with introductions, but usually by other characters who knew them using them). The main character was also asexual, and the discussions around this were poignant, demonstrating other's reactions and sometimes obsessions around the topic.

This story is very dark, and I would add warnings for self-harm, murder, mutilation, mind control (of a sort), and so much blood and violence.

Final verdict: Dark, atmospheric, and consuming, WHAT WE DEVOUR is a thrilling and thought-provoking YA fantasy read that will leave the reader reeling. Highly recommend for fans of THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US, FURYBORN, and KINGDOM OF SOULS.
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