The Devourers by Indra Das
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
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