Thank you to Jackie Douglass from Sourcebooks Fire for the book in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.
Book: What We Devour by Linsey Miller
Release Date: July 6th 2021
Tags: Fantasy | Standalone | Dark Fantasy | Apocalyptic | Ace MC
Trigger/Content Warnings: Depictions and discussion of self-harm | Mass Murder | Murder | Reference to Mass Suicide | References to Child Death | Child Neglect | Child Abuse
Other books by this author I reviewed
Lorena Adler has a secret—she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. But she has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. Lorena’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.
But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So, she makes a deal—a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.
The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.
What We Devour is yet another standalone fantasy by the hand of Lynsey Miller. Another dark tale with intricate world building and interesting twists and turns.
We meet Lorena Adler as she takes care of the death in a small town. Still considered an outsider despite having lived there for a few years now. She hides a secret. She is a noble and a vile. Normally those that hold the power of the banished gods either hold noble or the vile. Holding both is extremely rare and it is why she catches the eye of the Vile Crown Prince. It throws her into court politics, experimentations and sacrifices.
The world and its magic is an interesting take. One has to sacrifice something to be able to use their powers. A memory, blood or anything that the noble or the vile you carry wants. The prince for instance creates intricate contracts for his vile so it cannot step out of its boundaries and interpret the demand in its own way. It is an interesting way how to deal with magic and powers. I guess one can see the noble and vile as some kind of demons, the way that Lorena refers to them. But even with all the information I still feel a bit out of the loop when it actually comes to the vile and noble. The differences between the two and the long history before that.
There is also a door that is keeping a type of demons out of their world. But that door is breaking down and our vile prince and lorena want to find a way to keep it closed so the sacrificed to the door of the people can stop. At one point one runs out of criminals. There are twists and turns throughout the book. Curses, ghosts, murdering queens, talking doors etc. There is a lot here and yet the story moves painstakingly slow at points.
The story explores the themes of sacrifice and morality. Is it okay to sacrifice a few for the good of the many? And who gets to decide that? The constant tension between the various characters also plays with that. One can sacrifice someone else’s memory to heal a wound or change someone’s memory as the end goal. What is okay to take? What is okay to use your powers for?
Lorena gets a strong relationship with our prince and there seem to be some romantic feelings there. However there is also room for Lorena to be herself in this. She seems to not be interested in sex. She is interested in physical interactions by cuddling or holding someone. But she doesn’t seem to have a sexual interest, making her asexual. The word isn’t used in the book but the author has confirmed it. It was interesting and pleasing to see how the prince seemed to give her this room. There was never any push for more than she was willing to give.
All in all I do think that What We Devour is a very interesting dark fantasy standalone to give a try!