Title: Beasts Made of Night
Author: Tochi Onyebuchi
Series: Beasts Made of Night, #1
Release Date: September 26th 2017
Packed with dark magic and thrilling action, Beasts Made of a Night is a gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy perfect for fans of Paolo Bacigalupi and Nnedi Okorafor.
In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts—lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.
Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.
When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the centre of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves—and his own life.
Debut author Tochi Onyebuchi delivers an unforgettable fantasy adventure that powerfully explores the true meaning of justice and guilt.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received an ARC of this book free from the publisher. It in no way affects my views on Beasts Made of Night.
My Thoughts On…
Taj is an aki. He eats people’s sins and helps keep their souls pure at the cost of his own. Taj and his kind are despised and scorned, looked down on for the tattoos they receive from each sin they eat, tattoos of sins that aren’t really theirs. When Taj is called to the palace with his friend, to eat the sin of a royal, he doesn’t think it will be anything more than a simple job, a small sin for them to fight.
However son Taj finds himself in the middle of something he can’t understand. There’s a darkness at the heart of Kos which puts himself and his kind in danger, a darkness which could end not only his life but the life of the princess he is falling in love with.
Reading the blurb Beasts Made of Night sounded like an incredible book, and in places this was an incredible book, but unfortunately it wasn’t what I’d hoped. The plot was slow to start and I don’t think it was because the author was building up the world or the characters, although those parts of this story were really well written, but because there just wasn’t that much action to begin with.
Beasts Made of Night is a story full of secrets, and we follow Taj as he uncovers them and tries to work out what role he is being forced to play. The story felt disjointed in places, things were happening which seemed to come out of nowhere and didn’t lead anywhere either. It made me feel like I’d missed something earlier in the book, and as much as I tried I never seemed to fully connect with the story.
Taj is different to the other sin-eaters, and he doesn’t fully belong with them. The sin’s Taj eats never fade from is skin and so he is treated as a legend and someone to be feared by the other aki, and as someone to be beaten down and hated by the people with clear skin. Taj is confident and cocky, sure of his power to take down and eat sins, but he’s also a protector. He wants the younger aki to see him as a cool and slightly aloof older brother figure but when it comes to the people he cares about Taj is willing to do anything to keep them safe. No matter the cost to himself.
The different relationships Taj has with the other aki and his family inside the walls of Kos was interesting to read. All the money Taj earns that he can spare goes to his parents, and there are people living in the dahia who he truly loves and wants to keep safe from the Baptism’s; his aunties who took him in when he was forced to run away from his home, his best friend Bo and the other aki who share his home with him.
However there were also relationships that weren’t that well developed. The friendship Taj has with Marya, a mage in Kos, never felt real to me. We’re told the two are supposed to be like family, closer than brother and sister, but I didn’t see any evidence of that bond between them. We’re told, not shown, and because of that it didn’t feel real.
The relationship with Taj and the princess was another I wasn’t a fan of at all. It felt a little too much like insta-love because the two of them didn’t have many scenes together and no real changes to meaningfully interact. I feel like the sum of all their conversations through this book couldn’t have filled more than an hour, but all of a sudden Taj is daydreaming about giving her his heart stone? The friendship Taj formed with Aliya was more real than his love for the princess.
My favourite part of Beasts Made of Night was the world building. World building is always one of the most important parts of fantasy books for me and Beasts Made of Night had one of the most incredible worlds I’ve read in a while. The book has Nigerian influences, and I can’t say whether what Onyebuchi has written is accurate or well represented, but it was very well written. The dahia within the walls of Kos were so richly described I could almost feel like I was there; it’s Taj’s home, somewhere he loves despite the poverty and the sins, and through Taj I loved the dahia as well. There was a lot of history and myths surrounding the sin-beasts that were explained in this book, and it was very interesting to learn. Hopefully in the next book that’s something that will be continued because I feel after the ending there’s a lot we still need to know about the sins Taj eats.
Despite issues with the plot and parts of the character development I still enjoyed Beasts Made of Night. The incredible world building definitely helped hold my attention when the plot didn’t. Hopefully the next book in the series will solve the issues I had with the disjointed writing but either way after the cliffhanger ending to Beasts Made of Night I will definitely be picking up book two.
What did you think of Beasts Made of Night? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.