book review, horror, women in horror

To Be Devoured by Sara Tantlinger

Vultures offer freedom to Andi in this compelling story of mental illness and obsession.

Andi has never fit in, always felt different and an outsider, but her life seems to be going well. She has a loving girlfriend, Luna, her own home and a new therapist, Dr Fawning.

But the vultures that ride the wind over the woods surrounding her home call to her, offering freedom of the air and an alluring union with the carrion they consume, until Andi wonders if her only hope to truly belong is to become one of them.

Told from Andi’s point of view, To Be Devoured offers a sensitive depiction of a damaged young woman who sees life differently to others and is compelled by strange appetites. From the first scene, where Andi lovingly and painstakingly crafts a gift for her girlfriend, only to be met with rejection and revulsion, the reader is introduced to the darker inclinations of Andi’s illness.

It’s hard not to sympathize with Andi as she spirals downward into a consuming darkness, surrounded by people who don’t know how to deal with her. She at first resists her urges, some part of her offering wise advice. However, as her delusions become stronger, the gulf between reality and Andi’s perception become almost insurmountable. Tantlinger expertly captures how an obsessive idea can seem logical to the person in its grip, while it is viewed as dangerous or even disgusting by others.

Perhaps it is my own experience with mental illness that caused me to over identify with Andi. I understand her desire for connection that seems impossible to achieve, her obsession with wings and desire for flight, her gestures that seem to be met with confusion or rejection. While I haven’t ventured down the path of interest in carrion, I have done things that appeared reasonable to escape pain that afterwards revealed themselves to be damaging and unhelpful.

The symbolic use of wings, both Andi’s attempts to manufacture them and those belonging to the distant, unobtainable yet longed for vultures, reminded me of the story of Daedalus and Icarus. Her literal attempt to escape an internal prison touches on mythic resonance deep within the human psyche.

Likewise, the desire for Andi to learn from the flesh she eats and acquire knowledge and connection that eludes her in human interaction, has deeper meaning in an almost demonic twisted parody of the truth of religious communion. Is Andi searching for peace that only God can provide?

This is a dark read, undoubtedly, and I am sure that some readers will see Andi as an Other, rather than experience her story as I did – but for the grace of God go I. I would love to hear the thoughts of someone who read it in that way. I’m sure they still found it a dark delight.

I award To Be Devoured

To Be Devoured is available for ebook $5.39 and $15.49 print book on Amazon.

3 thoughts on “To Be Devoured by Sara Tantlinger”

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