To Be Devoured: Sara Tantlinger
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I’m super late to the Sara Tantlinger game, admittedly.
Until these last few days, I’ve only read one short story from her, which was in the fantastic anthology ‘The Twisted Book of Shadows.’
Michael Patrick Hicks and Richard Gerlach both practically begged me to read this novella, and after making my way through Sara’s upcoming poetry collection ‘Cradleland of Parasites,’ I knew I needed to dive in.
What I liked: ‘To Be Devoured’ follows Andi, a young woman struggling with a life filled with loss and grief. She’s found a connection with Luna, but we quickly see things take a turn when Andi begins to feel a deep ache within her soul.
Tantlinger’s gift is clearly in her prose and her love of language. Coming from a poetry background, numerous sentences and paragraphs in here are knee-buckling, so stunning you’ll almost whistle out loud.
A lot of this book reminded me of a cross between ‘Sick’ from Christa Wojciechowski and ‘Darkened Wings Flutter’ by Lou Yardley.
The cast of characters is small and tight, but Tantlinger uses each one masterfully.
What I didn’t like: For me at least, early on, a mild turn of phrase tipped me to the reality of her patient/doctor relationship, so it wasn’t as much as a gut punch when we find out all the details. Very minor, some will see it and some won’t, but otherwise this was perfection.
Why you should buy it: If you love super dark stories with horrific events and even worse deaths, ‘To Be Devoured’ will tick all those boxes and still make you want to bathe in Listerine.
This was a really stark look at extremes, but one story that does it fantastically.
To Be Devoured
What does carrion taste like? Andi has to know. The vultures circling outside her home taunt and invite her to come understand the secrets hiding in their banquet of decay. Fascination morphs into an obsessive need to know what the vultures know. Andi turns to Dr. Fawning, but even the therapist cannot help her comprehend the secrets she’s buried beneath anger-induced blackouts.
Her girlfriend, Luna, tries to help Andi battle her inner darkness and infatuation with the vultures. However, the desire to taste dead flesh, to stitch together wings of her own and become one with the flock sends Andi down a twisted, unforgivable path. Once she understands the secrets the vultures conceal, she must decide between abandoning the birds of prey or risk turning her loved ones into nothing more than meals to be devoured.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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