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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

People . . . people who eat . . . people . . .


Sorry.  But if it’s going to be caught in my head all day then I may as well share the love.

What has inspired today’s bout of cannibalism?  A conversation at work, as it happens.  Is it just me, or is there a whole lot more people eating in books for youth these days?  Time was you could go through the stacks and not find a single title that referred to the devouring of human flesh without it having to do with animals, vampires, or zombies.  These days it feels like you can’t get away from it.

Here then is a list that I can’t imagine you’ll have much use for.  Still, in case you’re looking to do some interesting curricular tie-ins, consider the following examples of that strangest of diets:

The Secret of Ferrell Savage by J. Duddy Gill

This was my first clue that 2014 was shaping up to be more interesting than expected.  First off, it wins points for its cover.  As for the plot, it concerns a boy who has a crush on a girl.  Nothing noteworthy there, until you discover that the boy’s ancestor sort of went off and ate the ancestor of said girl.  Now he’s afraid someone will discover the family secret.

The Savages by Matt Whyman

This one isn’t quite sure what to call itself.  On the one hand it seems to have a middle grade cover.  On the other, it has a YA sensibility.  Ultimately this one really isn’t for kids as much as it is teens.  Like a contemporary Addams Family except that this follows a clan with a taste for people.  Near as I can figure, this is the book to hand to the kid who really dug The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs.  Hand it over then back away slowly . . .

Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale

A little nonfiction never hurt anybody.  And this book, in spite of what we know about the story, is much more than just a bit of gnawing on bones.  I still consider this the #1 best unknown series for kids out there.  Read this then wait in anticipation with me for the next installment involving WWI!

The Lunatic’s Curse by F.E. Higgins

Like Nathan Hale’s book, this one came out a while ago.  Though I was a big fan of the other books in this series, this is not Higgins’ best.  The cannibalistic turn throws it over from mere penny dreadful to merely dreadful.  Still, there are glimpses of brilliance, and I can honestly say that four years after I read it, I can remember parts of it vividly.

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

This one’s YA so I didn’t read it myself, but when I was discussing this topic with some co-workers, mention was made of this book.  The cannibalism appears to only serve as a threat, but I’m including it because as threats go it’s a pretty convincing one.

Anything I’ve forgotten?  I feel like there may even be yet another 2014 title that touches on this subject area

Finally, should the title of this blog post be driving you slightly insane, you can exchange one cannibalistic ballad for another, if you simply listen to that old (and really not very p.c. but darn tongue-in-cheek) Flanders & Swann song The Reluctant Cannibal.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Immediately drawn to the cover of The Savages. And I loved Rumbaughs…

  2. #1 best unknown series? I’ll take it! Can I get that on a plaque or something?

    Great list!

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Perhaps “unknown” is not entirely accurate. “Too little known” might work better. After all, it gets better known every day. As well it should!

      • I know the series and love it! I work in an independent science fiction and fantasy bookstore, and I’ve been trying to find some way to spin the series as being in either genre, as a way to convince our buyer to get it. Perhaps the historical figure Nathan Hale’s being swallowed by a TARDIS-like history book which grants him the knowledge of the future?

      • Elizabeth Bird says:

        Oo. I like the way your mind works. Yes! Go with that!

  3. Meredith says:

    Cannibals are my number one fear in life. They freak me out so much. So while I’ve read the Donner Dinner Party (in spite of the cannibalism, I really liked it. It definitely won’t be my favorite in that series though, because it was too freaky), I will be avoiding the rest of these books. No cannibals for me, thanks!

  4. Is cannibalism the logical progression from vampires?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      You may be on to something there. Less sexy in general, which may be to their advantage.

  5. Now I want to make a video parody of Streisand with monster puppets….

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      If Jim Henson were still alive it would have already have been done. *sigh*

  6. A.W. B. Simpson taught a popular elective, “Cannibalism and the Common Law,” when I was a student at The University of Michigan Law School. My husband (and sometimes co-author) Greg Leitich Smith took it and occasionally references it in the “about the author” segments of his school (and other) presentations. Kids, teachers, librarians, administrators, booksellers, fellow writers…everyone is fascinated. It’s an infinite font of conversation and not only among lawyers, who could of course be assumed cannibals. See: