Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi is a Nigerian-influenced fantasy novel that absolutely blew me away. Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC.
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.
The world-building in Beasts Made of Night is absolutely stunning. Seriously, I have never read a book like this before. I loved that the magic of the sin-beasts and the aki was put into an almost real-world setting where class hierarchy is determined by how much sin a person has. The aki are the lowest in society, because of the sin-marks on their bodies, whilst royalty are completely sinless (well, they’re supposed to be). In between the aki and royalty are all levels of society, including a group called scribes, who graffiti revolutionary slogans and images around the city. I also really enjoyed the relationships within the novel. Taj has some amazing relationships with the other aki, who are like siblings to him. Potential love interests are also introduced, which creates very interesting dynamics. (That isn’t the main focus of the novel though, at all.)
The one downside was that I got a little bit confused towards the end. I don’t think it helped that I sped my way through the novel in one day, but I do think that some of the big events at the end of the book could have been explained a little more. I did also anticipate the plot twist, but I was enjoying the world and the character so much that I didn’t really mind.
Beasts Made of Night is in itself a reason why we need more African-inspired novels. Like I said above, the world-building is absolutely incredible, and unlike anything that I have ever read before. Don’t read one of those stiflingly white YA novels – read this.