What We Devour

Sourcebooks/Fire. Jul. 2021. 352p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781492679257.
Gr 9 Up–Lorena Alder, orphaned at a young age, has been hiding in a small village to conceal her noblewright and vilewright powers from the Sundered Crown. But with her fiancé’s father about to be arrested and sacrificed to the Door that separates banished demigods from the mortal world, she uses her vilewright to save him and unwittingly reveals her dualwrought status to Alistair, the heir to the throne. To save her fiancé’s father, she makes a deal with Alistair to work with him and other noblewrought to destroy the Door before it opens and allows the Vile to take over the world. Along the way she uncovers treason, evil, and a conspiracy to doom the working class. Lorena’s asexuality and many other characters’ nonbinary gender identities are refreshing bright spots among inadequate explanations and info dumps. Lorena’s motivations throughout are murky until the very end, which will leave readers feeling less connected to her. The storytelling offers a poignant exploration of what sacrifice really means, but the messaging about income inequality is a little too overt. Lorena’s and Alistair’s ethnicities are unstated.
VERDICT While the premise is original, this standalone dark fantasy novel fails to set itself apart from other works in the genre.

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