PARIS, 1858. Mercedes Fabron, pragmatic wife and childless mother, has her hands full running her husband’s fashion shop and navigat...

Review of the Devourer

PARIS, 1858.

Mercedes Fabron, pragmatic wife and childless mother, has her hands full running her husband’s fashion shop and navigating social etiquette. All of which would be considerably easier without uninvited ghosts haunting her night and day.

Out in the streets, people are dying of an undetermined cause. The newspapers speak of an unknown disease, the police speak of accidents. But when a dead man is found in her stairwell, Mercedes has every reason to suspect something much more sinister.

Only the ghosts know the truth, but they are too afraid to tell.

In fact, they are scared to death…

When we first met Mercedes, she is in a Paris fashion bouquet. We learn that she is the hostess of said shop, owned by her husband, Eric. We quickly discover that she has a gift or rather, a curse.

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It's not an ability that others would understand, so she keeps it hidden away. She is also guilt-ridden that she has such an ability as she feels it's not natural. However, she is grateful for it because it allows her to continue to keep the company of her daughter, Danielle, who is no longer among the living.

Something we also learn quickly is that her husband is a pompous jerk. Apparently, blessed with "short-man syndrome", he overcompensates for his physique with his fists and his attitude. In short (see what I did there?), Mercedes spends her life under his thumb, constantly trying to avoid his suspicion and anger. Unfortunately, in the time period the book is set, the husband has complete law over his wife and can do as he pleases. 

The narrative jumps back and forth between Mercedes POV and that of an unknown male presence. He calls himself a parasite and explains that he has an appetite for the energy of the living. We know that the narrative has shifted because the unknown male is typecast in italics. 

This. was. so. annoying!
Pages upon pages of italic. 

Eventually, Mercedes encounters this unknown presence and with her unique gift, they forge a very tenuous bond to rid Paris of another entity that is the cause of an epidemic that is making people drop dead. 

They call them "droppers." 

The plot of The Devourer is expansive. It's many layers interwoven into one story and treads heavily into the spiritual realm. We see tarot reading, runes, out of body travel, angels or guides, and demons or parasites. The world that the author builds in 19th century Paris is well described. We see numerous levels of social standing and how those characters live. 

I just wish I wasn't so annoyed by the characters. I loathed Eric. I'm not sure why the author needed to have such an incredibly abhorrent man written into the story. He belittles and beats his wife. He accuses her of adultery and dishonesty. He even goes as far as to have a doctor diagnose her with female hysteria. You know what the "cure" for hysteria often was? 

 (Read this Huffington Post article if you don't believe me.)

I understand that these were the extremely stupid beliefs at the time that the author has set this book. I get it and God bless those people who actually had to live it. I'd have been in the looney bin faster than you can say wandering womb. It just felt like an unnecessary distraction from the storyline and didn't really further the plot for me. The supernatural aspect of the book took a backseat to the interaction between Mercedes and her dirtbag husband. 

If you enjoy historical paranormal fiction, you may really like The Devourer. The author did an amazing job in describing the period in which it was set and also on the various supernatural aspects. I just couldn't establish a rapport with the characters.

Try it for yourself here:

 2 Paws Up

About the Author

Chris Chelser

Chris has been writing dark fiction with a silver lining for some 20 years now but has worked as a financial and legal business consultant before becoming a fulltime writer. 

She lives in a study somewhere in the Netherlands where she writes unless coaxed out by her husband and son.