Who is the prey and who is The Devourers? At one glance this book by Indra Das brings out that kind of question in me, and with that, I know that The Devourers is a deep story that comes with a message.
So what is the depth and message of this story? That is one of the things that this article is going to talk about. The Devourers is a werewolf horror fantasy that tells the story of a professor who meets a strange man that claims he isn’t human.
I find the opening of the story actually different. I was used to reading werewolf books with grand opening chapters, but here The Devourers we get two characters simply talking about werewolves after claiming that he’s a werewolf, and then the professor was tasked to transcribe a mysterious document which later on draws the professor to the history of beasts and humans.
Such an opening scene is kind of new to me. It would have been boring I think if not for the author’s style of storytelling.
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- Part 1: The Devourers As Queer Fantasy Horror Romance
- Part 2: Exploring Indra Das’s Werewolves in The Devourers
- Part 3: An LGBTQ-Themed Plot of The Devourers
- Part 4: Review of The Devourers
- Part 5: Conclusion About The Devourers By Indras Das.
Part 1: The Devourers As Queer Fantasy Horror Romance
Do not expect that The Devourers is just a romance book for this novel explored lots of elements that resonate with present realities about gender roles, exploitation, love, and culture. Thus, at some point in this book, The Devourers is kind of dark. There are actually scenes of violence and rape, so I suggest this is not for the faint of heart.
Since The Devourers is a horror book, expect that there are graphic and disturbing scenes in this novel. As a horror lover, this kind of thing doesn’t bother me.
But if I have to rate what’s haunting in this book is that the werewolves here aren’t like those kinds which we read in typical werewolf romances, rather the werewolves here are beasts, they are The Devourers. They are the shapeshifters that eat people. They mutilate, kill, and eat people and when they do they take on the memories of their souls.
“Women create. Men inflict violence on you, envious and fearful, desperate to share in that ability. And it is this hateful battle that keeps your kind extant. You have taught me that your race’s love is just a beautifully woven veil, to make pretty shadows out of a brutal war.” page 213.
I like how Indra related the devouring concept of the werewolves to the gender issue which I would say resonates with today’s reality, and in some cultures where gender roles are imbalanced.
Looking deep, The Devourers conveys a message about the realities of human society like there are the devoured and there are devourers. The allegorical use of werewolves in The Devourers illustrates human potentiality to expand outward and inward. We are what we create.
Part 2: Exploring Indra Das’s Werewolves in The Devourers
In Indra Das’s book, The Devourers, history professor Alok Mukherjee meets a stranger who claims to be half-werewolf. The stranger gives him the job of transcribing a number of old handwritten documents from the eighteenth century that describe the stranger’s ancestry.
A bizarre and brutal and occasionally beautiful history of magical shape-shifters emerges as Alok delves into the transcription. The Devourers is a gorgeous queer romance and treatise on identity and loneliness.
The werewolves in The Devourers are bestial. They can shift as they choose. They are immortal. They are made to live longer by eating humans, which has a significant impact on how they exist.
By eating humans, the memory of their prey becomes theirs or they even lived through them resulting in unstable and multiple identities. Despite being born human, werewolves evolve into new creatures that are not the same as they were at birth.
The first self manifests as a person, and the second self is the sacred beast, thus werewolves in The Devourers have two conflicted souls. Das’s werewolves are also “hermaphrodites,” that no offspring is born whenever they mate with their werewolf self.
This kind of characterization of the werewolves in The Devourers may be gore, but this is what makes the book a horror one, thus The Devourers living into its genre.
Part 3: An LGBTQ-Themed Plot of The Devourers
In The Devourers, Alok follows the story of Fenrir, Cyrah, and the stranger; it is rather clear from the start that the stranger is Fenrir and Cyrah’s child.
They are the ones who wrote the scroll. Throughout the novel, Alok, Cyrah, Fenrir, and the stranger wonder at how truly bestial the shapeshifters are and how close to humanity they are. As indicated this is a horror novel with graphic scenes.
The shapeshifters engage in a variety of overt behavior which I would not detail in this article. Read at your risk, The Devourers comes with a warning – this is not for the faint of heart.
The disturbing scene for me in The Devourers is when Cyrah rebukes Fenrir, claiming having intercourse and having children do not make one in love or a parent, and that he is horrible, saying that he raped her because he believed he loved her and wanted to produce life.
Fenrir replies that he learned all of this from real people, either by observing them or eating them. Fenrir cannot identify what is human love and hatred.
Maybe this is a side effect of devouring too many humans and living with their memories. Yet what’s shocking in the middle part of the story is when we learned that the evil Fenrir is originally a woman who chooses to become a man.
Also, in the latter, Alok, the professor who was tasked to transcribe the scroll was revealed to be a bisexual who was shamed by his parents and his society.
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Part 4: Review of The Devourers
I admire Indras Das’ bravery in tackling such hard topics in The Devourers. This book, The Devourers is for the open mind. Also, if gore isn’t your thing then I suggest you pass on this book. Yet I could say that despite the violence and hard issues depicted in the plot of The Devourers, it shows us the beautiful and ugly faces of love, humanity, and of social order.
Though the villain here is worst a monster I think the revelation in the latter part about Fenrir being originally a woman, depicts that villainous doesn’t have to do with gender, and I admire the author for placing such kind of emphasis on the plot, which is to agree at first, it would be difficult to understand why it has to be that way, yet when you look closer, you’ll get the message behind.
The Devourers is deep, through Cyrah’s character we can see that love can destroy, and that love can be a tool for exploitation. Also, through Alok, The Devourers showed us the face of gender differences and the stigma that goes along with being different.
The Devourers by Indras Das is thought-provoking, challenging and uncomfortable, yet it’s entertaining for a horror story, and brave and liberating for the open-minded.
Part 5: Conclusion About The Devourers By Indras Das.
“We are the devouring, not the creative. That is humanity’s province, and we’ve gone beyond human.”
This particular line showed the basis of the characterization of the werewolves here in The Devourers. So, reading this I expected I’ll encounter a different kind of werewolf here, and since this is tagged as a horror book so I was kind of prepared, as the title itself says, that werewolves here are The Devourers type, savage, merciless, and animalistic.
So, for me, picking this book comes with a warning – this is for the brave. The revelation about Fenrir is uncomfortable, this will literally sweep your emotion. The carnal scenes of the book may be too much. So, I think this book would fit adult readers. All in all, I could say that Indras Das’s The Devourers is creative, confrontational, and a work of art.