Beasts Made of Night is a Perfect Ten!

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Onyebuchi, Tochi. Beasts Made of Night. Razorbill/Penguin Random House,  November 2017. 304p. $17.99. 978-0-448-49390-9.

The titular beasts are the embodiments of sin, drawn out of their hosts and then killed by aki (sin-eaters) who literally swallow the inky black residue that remains, suffer extreme pain, and then wear these sin-animals as tattoos on their bodies. Unfortunately, when there is not enough free skin left for any additional tattoos, the sin-eaters die, which is why they are all so young. Seventeen-year-old Taj, the first-person narrator, also called Sky-Fist and Lightbringer, is one of the oldest and best aki. Even though he has sin-animals from the royal family among his tattoos, he—like all aki—is treated as a pariah by the citizens of the city of Kos, by the mages who serve the royal family, and even by some of the royals whom he has helped. Blackmailed by Izu, the head mage who threatens to destroy part of Kos if he refuses, Taj accepts an appointment to serve the royal family, not realizing the dangers to both Kos and himself, especially once Princess Kalima enters the picture. Fortunately, there is a young female mage, Aliya, who understands what is going on and is determined to help Taj survive.

The colorful, dynamic setting is unforgettable in its darkness, inequality, and magic. The characters are captivating, and the caste-like struggle between the “haves” and “have-nots” is depicted in vivid, convincing detail by the Nigerian American author. Onyebuchi demonstrates a special talent for worldbuilding, outstanding even in a genre saturated with unique worlds. His debut novel will engross teens, while the cliffhanger ending will have them impatiently awaiting the next installment.—Bonnie Kunzel.

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  1. […] We’re Excited: I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this debut, and the cover is SO COOL. Plus, Tochi Onyebuchi seems like a really […]

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