Published: July 3rd 2014 by Jo Fletcher Books
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Goodreads ● The Book Depository ● Booktopia ● Buy the ebook
On Earth, the Wisdom family has always striven to be more normal than normal. But Simon Wisdom, the youngest child, is far from normal: he can see the souls of the dead. And now the ghosts of children are begging him to help them, as they face something worse than death. The only problem is, he doesn’t know how.
In a far-away land of magic and legends, Matyas has dragged himself up from the gutter and inveigled his way into the Wizards’ college. In time, he will become more powerful than all of them – but will his quest blind him to the needs of others? For Matyas can also hear the children crying.
But neither can save the children alone, for the child eater is preying on two worlds…
The Child Eater is BRILLIANT. It may just be the best book I have read all year.
The Child Eater is a fantastical story about two boys, born in different worlds and centuries apart, who are bound together by magic and fate, and a monstrous creature known only as The Child Eater. He has preyed on generations of children and their ghostly voices cry out for help, cry out for someone to end their curse.
In a world of magic and myth, Matyas runs away from home to attend the Academy of Wizards, determined to learn how to fly. Matyas is unexpectedly talented at magic, and quickly surpasses other students and even his Masters to become the greatest Master of his time. I found that Matyas was never really likeable or sympathetic throughout the book. His hubris and quick anger annoyed me greatly. Despite this, I have to admit that he is one of the most well-crafted characters I have ever read!
The brilliance of Matyas is matched by Simon Wisdom, who lives in a world like our own but is plagued by phantom voices and weird lights. He has to keep his paranormal sensitivity a secret, however, because he is a Wisdom, and the Wisdom motto is to be ‘more normal than normal’. You see, the Wisdoms have always had the power to see things that others can’t. Simon is a lot more likeable than Matyas: he’s young and naive and doesn’t really understand his powers or why his father hates them so much. Jack Wisdom, on the other hand, is largely annoying because of his obsession with normalcy and how he stifles his son. (In his defence, Jack didn’t know he was inside a fantasy novel, and acted like a concerned parent).
I loved the pacing and how slowly everything came together. However, I think other readers will get a little bored. The Child Eater is a book that rewards patience and diligence, for example, readers who want to know who The Child Eater is and why he’s connected to our protagonists will need to read through about 70% of the book before they get the tidbits of information they crave.
The world-building is amazing in The Child Eater. Both worlds are ripe with magic and mystery, and Pollack uses evocative, lush language to bring them to life. Although the action is set in two different worlds, they are linked together by an enchanting magic system involving tarot cards. The two stories (of Matyas and Simon) stand alone for a large part of the book, but come together in wholly unexpected ways near the end. I enjoyed it immensely because it was obvious how the author meticulously (and very cleverly) planned the book and then subtly wove in all the connections so we could better appreciate them when we finished the story.
The Child Eater is a deliciously creepy, decadent read. It is not for the faint of heart, but it isn’t overtly scary either. An excellent novel that muses on the nature of dreams, reality, mortality, and truth, it will be loved by all those who look for something new and exciting in the fantasy landscape.