Beasts Made of Night

To craft the gripping fantasy world of Tochi Onyebuchi's debut novel, Beasts Made of Night, he takes the age-old idea of the haves and the have nots, adds a dose of magic, sprinkles in action and intrigue, then tops it all with a deliciously complex character on his path of self-discovery.

In the walled city of Kos live Mages who wield the power to extract sin from people. The sin-holder is then purified and the sin itself becomes a beast that must be killed and Eaten. The slave-like aki are the only ones who possess the power to Eat the sin-beasts (inisisa). The Mages demand high prices to withdraw sin but then cheat the aki, who consume the inisisa and wear the beasts' images on their skin. In Kos, these tattoos are signs of shame.

Taj, a cocky, talented young aki, describes the arrival of one such tattoo after he slays a sin-dragon: "I know that wings are spreading across my shoulders and sharp claws are burning down my arms to curl around my biceps. I squirm on the pallet as the tattoo of the dragon's neck and head form on the back of my own neck." After defeating a particularly vicious inisisa extracted from the king of Kos, Taj finds himself entangled in a sinister plot to destroy the city. Taj must cut himself off from his fellow aki, team up with a smart, young Mage and find a way to defeat the evil forces or everything he cares about will be ravaged.

Beasts Made of Night is an intense novel that touches on powerful themes of justice, inequality and family. Onyebuchi's inventive realm, combined with the Nigerian influences, ink the reader's soul and are certain to leave a lasting mark on the young adult canon as well. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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