This month I read The Devourers by Indra Das. From the back blurb, I got that this was about shapeshifters in India. Sounded pretty interesting just from that, so I picked it up. Wow, though, this book is so much more. It’s about sex, brutality, the child of rape, and both the good and bad of being true to one’s nature.
The story follows college professor Alok Mukherjee, who agrees to transcribe a couple of journals for a shapeshifter in exchange for knowing more of the shapeshifter’s personal history. You get little snippets of Alok’s life and experiences as he goes through this process, which helps tie everything together. In the first journal, he learns the story of three ancient shapeshifters from Europe who are on a migration. These are pretty terrible dudes, and while it can be hard to read at times, it’s a well written and compelling tale. The second story he transcribes gets into a more revenge-y journey of one of the shapeshifter’s victims. She’s a pretty cool character, so I was glad to read some of the book through her eyes. Once the two inner stories get wrapped up, we get to learn more about the initial shapeshifter we met and learn how he fits into the larger picture. It’s just as interesting, harsh, and heavy as the rest.
After reading, I struggled with one question. Can I recommend the Devourers? The answer I came to was yes. It’s just, well, potentially problematic for some readers. It’s violent and cruel in the middle and steamy toward the end. If that’s cool with you, I’d give this one a try. It has fascinating characters, a great sense of place and history, and kept me curious to the very end.
My rating: Oof. This one’s making me change my rating system! This one takes more thought and care than a beachable book, but it didn’t quite earn my top rating. So, I give in. I’ll use stars from now on.
4 stars out of 5 (forgive me; I’ll have to get a stars graphic later!)