Interesting but Lacking Cohesion | Review of ‘Beasts Made of Night’

By Cynthia Ayala

Beasts Made of Night Tochi Oneybuchi
Image Credit: Goodreads

“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 center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life. A gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy.” — Goodreads

Expected publication is October 31, 2017, Beasts Made of Night is the debut novel of Tochi Onyebuchi that delves into fantasy within the young adult genre.

This is such a hard novel to judge because it seems to move all over the place. By that I mean, it doesn’t have a clear antagonist, nor does it have a straightforward idea of where the story should go. There are several points in the storytelling where the story seems as though it’s moving in one direction, and then something happens and it moves into another direction, and that happens about four times in the novel making it almost impossible to lose oneself in the actual story because you don’t know what’s really going on.

The story has a very strong beginning as It introduces the reader to Taj and the world he lives in as an Aki, a sin-eater. It’s an interesting premise, but once it hits that point of introduction, the pace of the novel quickly slows down. It’s a hard novel to read and stick with, and for me, it was a struggle, there were times when I put it down and didn’t want to pick it back up. This is for so many reasons. It’s a dense novel. There are chapters and pages where nothing really happens, and this goes for character development and plot development. Yes, the reader gets to know the world Taj lives in, making it incredibly detailed, but there are times where not enough is left up for imagination. The author has the problem of explaining and detailing things that don’t need explanation leaving the reader to scratch their heads at points where there isn’t enough context to ground the reader into the story. Using colorful or “exotic” language is one aspect of that. There are times when a word or phrase is used at one point but then again at another different point. The author just wasn’t thoughtful enough to readers who weren’t of the Nigerian heritage. It’s not a very accessible novel because of that.

Also with a character like Taj, a dark character with a snarky attitude, one would imagine there would be some dark humor to the novel. If there was, it is sure to be lost on the reader. Much of what he does just seems cold or cruel. Given his life, it’s not understandable, but it takes a certain enjoyment away from the novel. Taj just doesn’t grab the reader, he lacks character growth. He’s thrust from situation to situation that doesn’t seem to impact him at all. And when he does seem to have some character growth it’s so close to the end that it doesn’t seem worth it.

There seems to be some idea behind the novel, almost as if the writer, he wanted to bring to life this tale of sin eaters but he didn’t know where to take it. It shows a lack of cohesion in the novel, especially when the author just goes from one climactic incident to another. it losses the reader by shifting the direction of the story this way and that. It’s dense, not thoroughly thought out and lacks character development. This is something that could have been absolutely spectacular but ended up falling flat as it dragged out unessential details. (★★★☆☆ | C-)

Product Details:

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

Page count: 304pp

Age Range: 12 & Over

ISBN: 978-0-4484-9390-9

Publisher: Razorbill

List Price:  $17.99

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