Beasts Made of Night by: Tochi Onyebuchi

Black Panther meets Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch in Beasts Made of Night, the first book in an epic fantasy duology.

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 Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a member of the royal family, 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.

Debut author Tochi Onyebuchi delivers an unforgettable series opener that powerfully explores the true meaning of justice and guilt. Packed with dark magic and thrilling action, Beasts Made of Night is a gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy perfect for fans of Paolo Bacigalupi and Nnedi Okorafor.

Content Warnings: Violence, blood/gore, murder, racism, classism, oppression, drug use, loss of loved ones, and police brutality. Mention of forced sterilization and abandonment.

A few years ago, when I first joined Booktok, I saw a lot of people hyping this book up. And yet, like so many books I’ve bought, I placed it on my shelves and forgot about it. Having joined the #ReadYourOwnAdventure Tiktok readathon I’ve been looking through my bookshelves to see what books would fit the prompt I have. As this book is a Nigerian-influenced fantasy…it fit my “Non-Western Inspired World” prompt perfectly.

I found the lore in this book completely fascinating. Imagine a world where any sin you had could be extracted and taken into someone else. Instead of being constantly weighed down by the guilt of your own sins, you could simply have it removed and placed on a complete stranger. Or imagine being that aki [sin-eater] and as soon as signs appeared that you possessed the power of a sin-eater you were cast out of your home and community and forced to take on the sins of strangers in order to have money to survive?

While I loved the lore within this book I had trouble believing in the romantic subplot that was introduced between Taj and the princess. Can feelings develop after merely seeing someone you find attractive or having a short conversation with them? Of course, but the level and speed at which Taj develops feelings for the princess just didn’t fit for me. I also felt like they introduced a lot of characters, to Taj, but didn’t really give them any depth or story for us to feel a true connection to them.

Although the lore was fascinating, and I would love to read more about it, the way the rest of the story felt very flat to me…I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the next book to read. The beginning of this book felt like it had a good speed, introducing us to Taj as well as the lore, but the romance subplot didn’t feel fully fleshed out and the ending felt extremely rushed and forced. I feel like if they’d allowed this book to be 100-200 pages longer they could have fleshed out so much more of the story and perhaps then it all would have fit well together.

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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