(this review spoiler free and contains my opinions and mine alone, you're welcome to disagree)
Sara Tantlinger's To Be Devoured is a dark and deeply disturbing ride through the unravelling mind of Andi, a troubled young woman who becomes obsessed with vultures that surrounded her woodland home.
The narrative is so easy to fall into as we get a tiny glimpse into the wrapped psyche of Andi and her detached view on reality. Throughout the entire novel, there is this sense of impending doom, combined with a grittiness and darkness that keeps us hooked. The final act especially is explosive and jaw-dropping to the point where my eyes were unable to leave the page until I reached its gruesome conclusion.
In regards to the characters themselves, Andi is an especially interesting narrator to say the least. Her slight unhinged nature is apparent from the first scene, her appetite for raw meat developing to the point where we can no longer trust her narration. Yet Andi is also highly sympathetic due to her tragic past which affects her character and everyday life, making her descent all the more tragic and 'understandable' in a morbid way. Side note: I also always appreciate it when an author actually applies the consequences of a traumatic event to the characters as a whole, instead of just slapping it on with the hopes of gaining sympathy brownie points.
I also really enjoyed Luna's character as she struggles between caring for the woman she loves and her disgust and fear of Andi's disturbing behaviour. I wish we'd seen a bit more of her life to flesh out her character a bit more, but then again, it's understandable since this story is about Andi.
Overall, To Be Devoured is very deserving of its Bram Stoker nomination. It's unnerving, terrifying and disturbing to its core, and its definitely on my 'highly-recommended' shelf.
About Sarah Tantlinger...
CLAIRE L. SMITH is an Australian author, poet and filmmaker. Her debut gothic horror novella, HELENA is due for release via CLASH Books in October 2020.