Reminded by a recent question asking for SciFi books with cannibalism in them.

I am looking for a novel series (I think 3-5 books) that I read about 5-6 years ago, and I think it will have been published in the past 10 years. The series involves ritual cannibalism and is set in either a dystopian future or a parallel world sort of environment. I read this series as ebooks and they would have been free ebooks, but where I got them, I don't remember. I do not remember cover(s), title(s) or author(s).

I've done a few searches on ISFDB, Goodreads and similar sites, but can't find them there - though I am fairly sure I found a review of them on Goodreads while I was reading the series. I've also tried keyword searches (using google's site search commands) on some of the ebooks sites like Gutenberg with no luck.

What I remember of the series:

  • The cannibalism is essential for life - If you don't eat the flesh, you die from a wasting disease, similar to lack of vitamins in our diet.
  • Consuming the flesh has a drug-like effect, being pleasurable/euphoric in some way. People who limit consumption get withdrawal-like symptoms.
  • First novel is set in a primitive society where individuals are chosen at a certain time of the year and then hunted ritually. The flesh is then carefully prepared and preserved for slow consumption throughout the year.
  • The first novel starts with the main character or a close family member being hunted or hunting in the ritual hunt. It is not immediately clear that they are being hunted for food.
  • I think the hunted are given weapons and can kill their hunter(s, possibly it is one-on-one); death of either is acceptable for the rite.
  • First novel focuses on one character's moral struggle with eating people he knows and he refuses to do so, trying to eliminate the need from his diet in a semi-scientific manner. He dies from this effort.
  • Second and subsequent novels are set outside the primitive society as one or more of the main characters from novel 1 travel to other places outside their community. This travel is a rare event for the community.
  • Subsequent novels find that outside people do as the main character in novel 1 did; lower their intake and only partake when absolutely necessary. This partaking is a sort of orgiastic feast at tavern style places
  • I think the final novel ends with finding or working on a "cure" for the dietary requirement, perhaps through supplementation of the diet by a medicine.
  • I think the final novel shows one of the main characters from the first novel bringing "modern" society to the primitive place in the first novel, perhaps in the form of a road and transport system (?).

1 Answer 1


I found the series. It was the Deviations series by Elissa Malcohn.

There are 4 books in the series, with the first being Deviations: Covenant. It seems that I was possibly wrong in my thoughts that it was cannibalism. There appear to be two interlinked sentient species, possibly with a common ancestor, each of which depends on the other for survival. Killing of the other species to sustain the life of the main character's species and is guided by the eponymous covenant, which regulates how often the meat can be eaten and what must be done in return for a death.

I found it by manually scrolling through lists of free scifi books on Smashwords.

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