Woman, Eating

By Claire Kohda

Uh, this novel is very strange. It’s a dark, often melancholy, coming of age story, as Lydia, a sheltered 23-year-old, is on her own for the first time after placing her mother in a care home. She’s awkward and shy, trying to find herself in her internship at an art gallery and her studio at a young artists’ collective. She’s also a vampire.

But still a very, very young vampire, who is struggling with her identity, as well as to ethically source blood in London. For the majority of the book she is starving (thus the title), and obsessed with human food she can’t digest. This wouldn’t be a great book for anyone with any sort of eating disorder. In fact, there are a few different content warnings (sexual assault, imagined animal harm), and I read a lot of the book in a state of low-level dread.

But I also read the book in rare complete focus because the writing is just so beautiful. It is very literary – most of the narrative is Lydia’s thoughts and feelings, and they could sometimes be exasperatingly self-indulgent in a very accurate 23-year-old way. But the backcover blurbs weren’t wrong when they raved about a completely new perspective on vampire mythos. Once I started reading each night, I only put the book down again at the end of each of the three parts that divide the relatively short book (227 pages).

The end, too, is a viscerally joyous release of all the built-up tension that truly fulfills Lydia’s coming of age. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I enjoyed the experience of reading this throughout, but I’m very glad that I did nonetheless.

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