This darkly funny and provocative novel reimagines classic fairy tale characters as modern women in a support group for trauma.

In present-day New York City, five women meet in a basement support group to process their traumas. Bernice grapples with the fallout of dating a psychopathic, blue-bearded billionaire. Ruby, once devoured by a wolf, now wears him as a coat. Gretel questions her memory of being held captive in a house made of candy. Ashlee, the winner of a Bachelor-esque dating show, wonders if she really got her promised fairy tale ending. And Raina's love story will shock them all.

Though the women start out wary of one another, judging each other’s stories, gradually they begin to realize that they may have more in common than they supposed . . . What really brought them here? What secrets will they reveal? And is it too late for them to rescue each other?

Dark, edgy, and wickedly funny, this debut for readers of Carmen Maria Machado, Kristen Arnett, and Kelly Link takes our coziest, most beloved childhood stories, exposes them as anti-feminist nightmares, and transforms them into a new kind of myth for grown-up women.

What's Inside

Read More Read Less

Praise

One of TIME Magazine's Best Books of May
“Even better than it sounds, HOW TO BE EATEN presents vividly real women haunted by their fairy tale pasts in this deliciously angsty debut. Pure fun pulsing with a dark  heart.”—Rachel Yoder, author of Nightbitch
"Gorgeously written and mind-bending, How To Be Eaten is fiction as a magic trick: by redrawing these archetypal characters with modern, vivid, and gothic specificity, Adelmann reminds us that, be it enchanting or devastating, our myths remain."
 —Julia May Jonas, author of Vladimir
“In this wildly imaginative and trenchant novel, female characters from mythic fairytales emerge as modern-day heroes capable of reclaiming their lives from the trauma of their past. A deft exploration of trauma, authorship, the power of storytelling, and the healing potential of connection, How To Be Eaten will stun readers page after page, offering an unforgettable, empowering, and above all entertaining tale of reclamation and transformation.”—Christie Tate, New York Times bestselling author of Group
“Maria Adelman does more than reinvent the fairytale, she brings it into the twenty-first century, frankenbites and all. From Bluebeard to The Bachelor, Adelmann spins ‘familiar’ tales together into gold. Funny, violent, cutting, and insightful, How to Be Eaten made me want to join this unlikely group of confidants and start confessing my own secrets, just to keep the conversation going.”—Gwen E. Kirby, author of Shit Cassandra Saw
“Maria Adelmann’s debut novel is jagged and daring and darkly funny. Her wit is an exquisite instrument, one she uses to shred the myths by which capitalism and patriarchy exploit and commodify the female quest for love and selfhood. If you’ve ever hate-watched a reality TV show, or struggled with the blithe misogyny of a fairytale, this is the book for you.”
 —Steve Almond, author of Bad Stories and All the Secrets of the World
"a fresh and inventive gem."—Publishers Weekly

“Adelmann travels the well-worn paths of some of the Brothers Grimm  most famous fairy tales with stylistic panache and 21st-century verve. However, it's her nuanced consideration of our own culpability that makes this book unique. In the end, Adelmann’s true subject is actually her audience, the great anonymous we who consumes the horrors of violent husbands, ravaging wolves, hungry witches, and made-for-TV love stories with such compulsive demand we never pause to think what might come after the happy ending. Both a meditation on trauma and a sendup of our society’s obsession with scripted reality, this book sings.”

KIRKUS, Starred Review
“In this modern retelling of classic fairy tales, Adelmann shatters ‘happily ever after’…and brilliantly brings to light the historical exploitation and manipulation of female trauma in the media. With the current fascination with true crime and reality television, this powerful first novel holds up a mirror to the reader and challenges our perceptions of truth.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“After her well-received collection Girls of a Certain Age, Adelmann offers a wickedly imaginative work envisioning fairy-tale characters as members of a trauma support group in contemporary New York.”—LIBRARY JOURNAL

“A fairy tell reimagining unlike any other you’ve ever experienced…How To Be Eaten is an intriguing take on what it means to exist in the world as a woman in the 21st century and trauma in the digital age. It’s also just a really entertaining read.”

BOOKRIOT
"A sardonic, poignant novel that moves in unexpected directions across each and every page, How to Be Eaten is a whip-smart invitation to reimagine familiar fairy tales in a modern age."—Kerry McHugh, Shelf Awareness
"Adelmann’s debut is a darkly funny, thought-provoking take on what happens after happily ever after."—TIME Magazine
Read More Read Less