January 21, 2013


BENIGHTED by Kit Whitfield has an intriguing premise: Most people in the world are lycanthropes (werewolves, though the book avoids ever using this term). When the moon is full, they change into violent beasts, but the rest of the time, they carry out normal human lives, and as the majority population, they control pretty much everything. Those who don't transform, due to a rare birth defect, make up less than one percent of society. These people are considered freaks and are treated as second-class citizens, but they perform an important, if despised, role because they are the only ones able to keep the world safe on full moon nights.

The narrator of the story is a non-lyco named Lola. She works for DORLA, the Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity. In fact, all nons are recruited into DORLA at an early age, which further alienates them from their families and other potential peers. This is one of many reasons that Lola has a chip on her shoulder.

Lola works as a legal advisor to lycos caught out on moon night. The story opens with one of these cases, and the situation soon turns into a murder investigation. The deeper Lola digs into what's happened, the more disturbing the case becomes. It's an exciting plot that kept me reading and always curious.

I enjoyed the world-building in the book, especially passages that discussed the history of the relationship between lycos and nons. While I was never entirely convinced that the arrangement of society made sense, I was willing to go along with it, and it was clear that Whitfield had thought it out in a way that was plausible for her. Ultimately I was disappointed that the scenario of the world wasn't explored in even greater depth, which might have answered some of my remaining questions. Still, I recommend this book, and I'd be eager to read another story set in this world (alas, the author isn't currently planning a sequel). Thanks to Lauren for the recommendation!

Good Stuff Out There:

→ On the Guardian Books Blog, Imogen Russell Williams dreams about the fantastic food in children's books: "CS Lewis's Narnian food, too, remains among his otherworld's most seductive characteristics. From the datelike toffee-tree that grows from Digory's planted bag of sweets, to the eel stew served, with gloomy predictions of its toxicity, by Puddleglum, the familiar is transmuted into the exotic in much the same way that a wardrobe becomes a doorway to a forest -- where fauns serve Edwardian afternoon tea, complete with boiled eggs and sardines."

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