REVIEW: Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo

Lee Mandelo dives into the minds of wolves in Feed Them Silence, a novella of the near future.

What does it mean to “be-in-kind” with a nonhuman animal? Or in Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s case, to be in-kind with one of the last remaining wild wolves? Using a neurological interface to translate her animal subject’s perception through her own mind, Sean intends to chase both her scientific curiosity and her secret, lifelong desire to experience the intimacy and freedom of wolfishness. To see the world through animal eyes; smell the forest, thick with olfactory messages; even taste the blood and viscera of a fresh kill. And, above all, to feel the belonging of the pack.

Sean’s tireless research gives her a chance to fulfill that dream, but pursuing it has a terrible cost. Her obsession with work endangers her fraying relationship with her wife. Her research methods threaten her mind and body. And the attention of her VC funders could destroy her subject, the beautiful wild wolf whose mental world she’s invading.



📕 science fiction / horror

📘 scientists connecting human to animal

📙 toxic relationship

📗 conflicting thoughts/ feelings



I read Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo as soon as I could get a copy of it. I knew that I was going to like it and I did. What I liked most was Mandelo’s writing style. “Feed Them Silence” is the new novella by Mandelo and while I loved the writing style I can’t say that I enjoyed the story.
Let me break this down a bit. I had an interesting discussion with a colleague about the premise of being inside the mind of another species or even an alien life form. How can we ever do that? We can only explore the life of another being filtered through the bias of already being a human being. This book took me back to my university days when I was taking Philosophy. My old pal, Nagel and his “What it’s like to be a bat” essay. The issue is that you can’t understand the experience of “being” another creature unless you can become that creature absolutely.
Mandelo started off strong in this novella. I was intrigued by the potential science behind a neural link that would allow an animal and a human to sync in a way that would provide feedback. I found that I wanted more of the background and the futuristic explanation of the science. That is, however, my fault. I often read books without first seeing what genre they are.
Working within the confines of a novella, Mandelo quickly shifts to the horror side of the story. Here is the point at which my problems began. The main character Sean is a research scientist on the edge of a great discovery but their personal life is a bit of a wreck. From moment one, Sean is an unlikeable character. Solely focused on work, Sean’s marriage is in tatters and she’s really not even pleasant to her wife. I found the relationship moments to be quite bleak. What saved it for me is the style of Mandelo’s writing. I’m not sure I can put my finger on it, but I adore Mandelo’s use of words. The language is rich and syrupy and gives me something to savour. I remember thinking exactly the same thing when I was reading “Summer Sons”.
As the marriage frays, Sean sinks herself completely into her research. She becomes abnormally attached to the wolf she is connected to. Perhaps she was looking for some sort of connection in her life, perhaps Mandelo had another meaning in mind and I missed it. I struggled a bit with the instant connection that Sean had to the wolf…and also the ethics of subjecting a wolf to invasive surgery for research. SPOILER: and later… Sean was outraged when killing the wolf was put on the table which was hypocritical.
This is definitely a horror… but I think I was expecting more of the horror to come from the actual connection to the wolf than the fact that most of the human beings were absolutely horrendous people that I probably wouldn’t want to know!
The writing is stellar…just not the book for me, I think. I would have loved a book that was about the science behind the connection between humans and animals and I would have also loved a book about the train-wreck relationship… I think though, both these stories were left a bit unfinished for me.



🖊 Author

🖊 Goodreads

🖊 Publisher



I received an ARC of Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo from Tordotcom via review site in exchange for an unbiased review.

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