What We Devour by Linsey Miller — ARC Review

Summary:

From the author of Mask of Shadows comes a dark and intricate story of a girl who must tether herself to a violent ruler to save her crumbling world.

Lorena Adler has a secret—she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. She has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. She’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.

“A triumphant dark fantasy, What We Devour serves up an incredibly smart magic system with a side of eat-the-rich energy.” —Rosiee Thor, author of Tarnished Are the Stars

Review: 4 Stars

`What We Devour is a really dark fantasy that explores themes of sacrifice and morality. When I first saw this book I knew I wanted a copy. I love fantasy books with darker themes and the blurb just sounded really intriguing. I definitely got some Beauty and the Beast vibes, and I read that the author originally intended this book as a retelling, but it wound up changing a lot throughout the writing process. So while it’s not technically a retelling, you can see the Beauty and the Beast influences.

I was a little nervous starting this book because I had read that the pacing was slow, but I felt like the book took off pretty quickly and that the pacing was pretty consistent. I wouldn’t say that this is an action packed story, but it was easy to sink into and the writing was compelling. The writing itself was pretty incredible at times. There were some really raw moments and it was filled with brutal and vivid imagery. I wound up reading this a lot faster than I expected to.

This is a pretty dark book and I highly recommend that you check the trigger warnings, especially if you struggle with self harm. What We Devour has a really fascinating magic system based on sacrifice. There are Noblewrought, people who can create when they sacrifice something, and Vilewrought, people who can destroy when they make a sacrifice. Since the magic system is based on sacrifice the book really explores the theme. Lorena is a dualwrought, meaning she can both create and destroy and she is a really great main character to follow. She is incredibly loyal and she was willing to sacrifice everything for those that she loved. The sacrifices can be physical, like a blood sacrifice, or mental, like memories. What We Devour explored self sacrifice and what lengths people are willing to go to for those that they love and the greater good.

This book was filled to the brim with morally grey characters and also explored themes of morality. Many characters, including Lorena, do horrible things, and while they were all morally grey, I could agree with Lorena’s choices because she did horrible things for good reasons. It really got me thinking if the difference between good and evil was the motives behind people’s choices. I’m a sucker for morally grey characters so I really loved the darker sides to the characters. Carlow could be really brutal and at times I felt like the Heir, Allister, was a psychopath. It felt like everyone was manipulating each other and they all had their own reasons and motives. I couldn’t trust any of the characters because they were all out for themselves and were willing to betray each other or stab each other in the back.

While I really loved all of the characters, my biggest problem with this book was the character development. I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters and felt like the characters and the story itself lacked emotion. There was a character who died and I felt like no one actually grieved for him. While the writing was great and there were some really powerful moments, I feel like this book could have been so much better if I was emotionally invested in the characters. It was really a shame because I loved the rest of the book and the poor character development made this otherwise really great book really struggle at times.

While I do have some mixed feelings about this book I would still recommend it. The plot, pacing and writing were all really great and made for a quick dark read. I absolutely loved the magic system, but do wish we got a bit more world building. By the way the book ended I’m not sure if this is a standalone or if there will be a sequel. It feels like it could continue, but also felt wrapped up pretty well. I will definitely be reading more from Linsey Miller. If there winds up being a sequel I will pick it up, but I’m really interested in her Mask of Shadows series.

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