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Beasts Made of Night

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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.

A gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published October 31, 2017

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About the author

Tochi Onyebuchi

74 books1,207 followers
Tochi Onyebuchi is the author of Beasts Made of Night, its sequel Crown of Thunder, War Girls, and Riot Baby, published by Tor.com in January 2020. He has graduated from Yale University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia Law School, and L’institut d’études politiques with a Masters degree in Global Business Law.

His short fiction has appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Omenana, Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, and elsewhere. His non-fiction has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Nowhere Magazine, Tor.com and the Harvard Journal of African-American Public Policy. He is the winner of the Ilube Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African and has appeared in Locus Magazine's Recommended Reading list.

Born in Massachusetts and raised in Connecticut, Tochi is a consummate New Englander, preferring the way the tree leaves turn the color of fire on I-84 to mosquitoes and being able to boil eggs on pavement. He has worked in criminal justice, the tech industry, and immigration law, and prays every day for a new album from System of a Down.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,143 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,992 reviews298k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 27, 2018
DNF - 45%. I'm joining the many people who couldn't finish this book, despite trying very hard to love it. Normally, I would give up on a book this hard to get into after a couple of chapters but I persevered because I was so in love with the premise (Nigerian fantasy, sin-eaters, etc.) that I struggled to accept it wasn't working out.

I can tell already that many won't finish Beasts Made of Night. It is extremely slow and dense and lacks a strong plot line, drama, humour or something to make it compelling. The right kind of reader for this book might call it words like "rich" and "detailed" but I personally think that reader is rare. A quick glance at the advance reviews reveals many struggled as much as I did.

So disappointed that I couldn't get into this.

Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews99 followers
January 31, 2018
This reminded me of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I'm not sure why. There isn't a blood offering, nor a leper that I noticed. It must be all the sacrifice.

The Aki are sin-eaters. People pay the mages, who control the Aki to take away their sin. The Aki get a faction of the payment. The sin is drawn out of the sinner. It manifests in the shape of an animal, shadow beasts. A small sin might look like a lizard, while a large sin is a powerful and terrifying monster. Once an Aki consumes the sin it appears on his or her skin as a tattoo of the animal. Once the Aki runs out of room for more ink, than the Aki die.

The tattoos made me think of the self-scarification, “one for every sin” performed by Nightcrawler from X-Men. And, that bit about removing the lizard or spider to heal a person is conjure-doctor territory.

I wanted to like the story more than I did. So be it.
Profile Image for Chelsies Reading Escape.
631 reviews362 followers
October 21, 2017
I find the hidden sin beasts in the purple cover to be so aesthetically pleasing. In this fascinating world we get this rich culture and mythology. Sins make people sick and they have to pay Mages to bring the sins out of them so the Aki (sin eaters) can kill and eat them. Once the aki have eaten too many sins they go mad and numb until they finally cross over. I loved the idea of sin eaters and how the sins took the shape of shadow beasts, like griffins, dragons, snakes and spiders. I thought the whole concept was really creative.

I also loved exploring a diverse world, but I wish the world building would have been explained a bit better. There were some words I wasnt familiar with, but my confusion was in part due to my lack of knowledge of the Nigerian elements that influenced this book. I wasnt always sure what cultural aspects were completely fictional and which were inspired by that culture. I still really enjoyed getting to read a fantasy story inspired by a culture we dont typically see in books. I definitely want to see more books inspired by diverse cultures.

The characters were alright, but I got them mixed up a lot and I didnt feel all that attached to them. With more books in the series coming the characters still have time to grow on me. I liked how the author explored the dynamics between the Aki and the rest of their society. The stigma and guilt the Aki have to face added some depth to the story. There's a couple things with the characters that didnt make sense to me, like why Bo was so mad at Taj for living at the palace and how Bo can do the same thing as Taj. Bo and the Princess confused me at the end.

The pacing was a little slow while Taj was at the palace and while he was training the other Aki, but the short chapters helped keep things moving along and there was also some great action scenes when the aki were fighting off the sin beasts. Even though it took me a while to figure out the point of the plot, the ending didnt completely surprise me. Now that the plot, world and characters have been established Ill probably enjoy the sequel a lot more. This series seems like its going to be a promising one and Im looking forward to picking up the next book.

*received for review consideration*
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,739 reviews709 followers
November 23, 2017
Oh man, how I wanted to love this. I’m not sure how to write a review for this, but here goes.

I really liked how the sin-eating worked. It was interesting how the sins manifested and how they were dealt with. Unfortunately, I think that might be the nicest thing I can say about it.

The characters were meh, the plot didn’t make sense to me, and the passage of time was completely confusing. I spent a good amount of time thinking about DNFing.

Overall, it was an intriguing idea, but the execution didn’t work for me.

**Huge thanks to Razorbill for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Noha Badawi.
507 reviews511 followers
October 14, 2017
4.75 stars.
Please tell me there's a sequel because i won't be able to survive otherwise.

This book was absolutely and terrifyingly brilliant.
Beasts Made of Night is a must-be-on-your-Halloween to-do list. This book is like a dark spell, to be cast on the night of October 31st so people around the world spend a bewitching evening.

Thank you Penguin Random House for sending me an advance reader copy. Readers around the world, mark your calendars because this is a tale of beasts and epic-fantasy not to be missed.

full review: https://thebookishword.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky).
256 reviews442 followers
Want to read
April 20, 2017
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.

Awesome, original new fantasy with unique and a well thought out magic system?

Corruption, conspiracy and adventure?

YA that explores complex representations of guilt?




Sooo… if anyone gets an arc of this is there any chance they could let me borrow it on the DL?

Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,310 followers
February 5, 2019

This had a lot of really excellent elements going for it, but the plot of the last 1/3 of the book was nonsensical and came out of nowhere. I loved the concept for the story, but there wasn’t enough storytelling to hold it together.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher but it in no way impacts my review*
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews192 followers
January 9, 2019
This was a lot better than I expected, but still not as good as it could have been.

Beasts Made of Night is the first book in a fantasy duology set in a magical world inspired by Nigeria. It follows Taj, a boy who is paid by the royal family to eat their sins (of which he bears the signs in the form of animal tattoos) as he gets involved in court intrigue.

The thing I liked the most about this book was the worldbuilding. I rarely find YA fantasy books whose world doesn't feel generic or underdeveloped, and this is one of them. Here you'll find mythology, magic, vivid descriptions of the food, of the sounds and the smells of the city.
I loved the way magic was incorporated into this world. It's not just sin-eating: there are also magical stones one can get addicted to, there are almost steampunk-like aspects to the fantasy technology, and it's implied that the magic itself is tied both to math and to the Islam-inspired religion.
Through the worldbuilding Beasts Made of Night also explores class privilege: the sin-eaters are poor - because they're discriminated - but at the same time necessary for the royals, because they have to eat the royals' sins. Sin-eating isn't just something that happens in this world: it has political, religious and cultural implications.

Beasts Made of Night is a book full of ideas, but unfortunately, the execution often fell short. I think this novel needed more editing, or maybe less of it - I'm not sure. It felt both like a first draft, because sometimes the motivations of the characters were lacking or barely there, and like something that was taken apart and then put together again with some scenes missing.
What completely didn't work about this book was the pacing. The first half is slow-moving, but during the second half there's absolutely no sense of the passage of time. How much time did the second half take? Weeks, months? I have no idea. It felt like a blur, something made up of scenes stitched together without any cohesion.

I liked Taj as a main character. He's protective of the younger Aki, criticizes the royals, is somewhat vain, and falls a bit for every female character he meets. He felt like a real teenage boy. By the end of the book, however, I realized that no one in this book actually had a coherent character arc. Especially not the side characters, whose motivations didn't make sense.
My two main problems with the side characters were:
🐺 There were many of them, and they kept going in and out of the story. Most of the side characters were "important" for a certain part of the story, then disappeared completely, and reappeared near the end.
🐺 Many of them were women. While I liked that there were many relevant female characters, they didn't feel like real teenage girls, not in the way Taj felt like a real teenager. They always gave me that "written by a man" feeling I can't really describe.

This was especially glaring for the princess, because this book has something that feels very much like a bad case of instalove, even though the characters do not even seem to be in love. They're just really obsessed with each other, to the point that it gets weird. I usually can understand insta-attraction/insta-lust and relationships that develop quickly, but here, I didn't even get why the princess even marginally cared about Taj. None of the princess' motivations made sense, really. No, not even after the ending.

I liked reading Beasts Made of Night and I liked what it was trying to do, but many aspects of it ended up being disappointing, so I won't be reading the sequel.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,900 reviews534 followers
August 3, 2017
This book has a really intriguing premise and I was drawn in by the world building. Unfortunately I thought that it was lacking in both plot and character development. The story is told in first person present tense by Taj, a sin eater or aki who's also known as Lightbringer. As the sins in the form of beasts enter the aki he describes his experience. "The sorrow that rakes my skin. The guilt that grips my mind. The cold that pierces my bones and freezes my marrow. And I want to cry out, but my throat is full of sin, and the moment stretches out like a piece of rubber being pulled and pulled and pulled until finally it snaps."

It's a complicated mythology and everything in this world seems to be menacing to both the aki and the ordinary citizens, including the Mage, the royal family, palace guards, cheating pay masters, Agha Sentry, shadow beasts, catapults sent to destroy the neighborhood (dahia) and arashi who are attracted to places with the most sin. One of my problems with the book is that it has too many words with which I am unfamiliar and I'm not sure that I always understood the meaning through the context. It needs a glossary.

Another problem I had is that Taj's status in this world, and his powers, kept shifting for no logical reason other than the author needed them to. And Taj is not very interesting and no other characters are developed at all. Taj instantly falls in love with a princess (of course), but she struck me as a creepy stalker attracted to sin, so I never bought into the romance here.

There is really no plot until a third of the way in when it felt like a story was about to develop, but I was wrong because nothing happened again until the last 50 pages. There is a conspiracy introduced at that point, and even though it is very sketchy and doesn't make a lot of sense it should have been introduced much earlier in the book. Before then Taj has no goals and faces no conflicts. So without a compelling plot or characters all you're left with is an interesting premise. The author shows promise but I wanted more of a plot from this book. The ending could possibly be construed as a cliffhanger, but I don't think a sequel is called for.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
669 reviews1,713 followers
December 5, 2018
The premise of this book is amazing -- and still is amazing! A Nigerian-inspired fantasy about sin-eaters.
Unfortunately, this book was, at best, not for me, and at worst, incoherent.

- Follows Taj, an aki or sin-eater, who eats the sins of the royal family so they remain pure and free of sin. Moreover, once the aki kill and consume the sin, which takes the form of inky-shadow-like beasts, the sins appear like tattoos on the aki. It's wicked awesome.
- The setting was wonderful and Onyebuchi's writing was vivid - detailed and teleports you to the bustling Forum of the city or the grand and tall halls of the royal palace.
- Examines various themes such as oppression, classism, corruption, and poverty, particularly how it is perpetuated by the rich.
- However, I found the plot disjointed, incohesive and scattered. Though the story follows Taj's journey as an aki as he is roped into the schemes of the royal family and the corrupt mages, beyond the worldbuilding of sin-eaters, the story lacked substance and a distinct plot. I struggled to follow the direction and purpose of the story.
- One of the romances was completely nonsensical, though it did make for a great ending.

Trigger/content warning:
Profile Image for Lara Kareem.
Author 4 books95 followers
October 10, 2017

I heard about Beasts Made of Night on Twitter. A young lady was looking for a Nigerian book blogger to give this book to and I was the lucky person who she eventually sent it to. She said the author is Nigerian and it's a fantasy based in Nigeria, and I was just sold because right about that time, I had actually been seeing the cover across twitter, but never really paid attention to the book so I did a quick Goodreads look up and I was impressed and excited. The cover is so beautiful.

I didn't even read the blurb, I wanted to be surprised when I finally got my hands on it and surprise I was by how the execution of the story went.

This story follows the life of Taj who is popularly known as Skyfist or Lightbringer, an Aki people who fight and destroy Inisisa, Sin Beasts, which are brought forth by Mages. The Aki are treated poorly and are highly disrespected, which I don't get. Why? These people are wonderful and what they can do is a blessing, one that the people in Kos should respect if they have common sense, but they don't I guess. So I didn't read the blurb of this book, so I didn't know Mages were meant to be terrible, but I got that vibe quickly from the books. There is a lot of lahala going on in this book that I could have done with out though, but it is there.

I didn't fancy the romance aspect you see, because it was like Tochi couldn't make up his mind and left the opening possible for Taj to actually be interested in 3 different ladies, but all I know is I was right about my suspicions along, especially when I got to the end of the book. But I love romance and for me to say I didn't fancy it at all is something.

I loved reading Nigerian slangs, like Oga - which means boss, ehn-ehn which is used for emphasis and the other slangs, at least I understood them immediately.

I was just confused about the city of Kos. I wondered where it was meant to be and I think it's meant to be like Lagos. Because Kos is home to many people of different ethnic groups because we have the names such as Taj, Aliya, Kolade, Ifeoma, Emeka, Karima, Arzu, Izu etc. So from this, I got that Kos is a diverse city and there are other parts of the world Kos is in.

I also think Islam is the main religion of Kos because they spoke about fasting, and there was always a call to pray and Masjid, which means mosque. Which also negates my opinion that Kos is in Lagos, but based on Northern Nigeria.

There are two main creatures in this story the Sin Beasts or Inisisa and the Arashi, which is meant to be terrifying *cough* By the way I need an explanation to why the Sin-Beasts manifest in the form of animals, there isn't really a back story to the people and how the magic really works. Yes, a Mage was trying to explain to it a bit, but I still didn't grasp it.

I believe there is meant to be a sequel because the story just cuts off, like it just gets interesting and it just stops. I hope it is way better than this book, I would truly love to know what fate awaits Taj and how he manages to overcome the obstacles in his path.

We're thrust into the city of Kos, just like that and are left alone to stumble around till we figure out for ourselves how the city works and who the people in it are. I have a problem with this because the way the story is written, it's like Tochi expects us to know the terms he used to describe the people and some of the things in their world immediately.

More than 70% into the story, I still couldn't understand the purpose of the story and what was meant to be happening. I knew something was meant to be off but the execution of it was too laid back and was being noted in passing, it still wasn't making sense to me. Then there's a full 360 turn from the laid back story telling at 80% of the story and I am thrust into fast paced with no sort of warning and that's how it goes till the last page.

Even the last few chapters felt rushed to me and confusing, even the big twist that was meant to occur, the way it was written, was so flat it had me scrunching my face. I knew it was coming, but the scene was just ugh to me and so cringy. It could be so better.

In fact, the story had me confused a lot because there really isn't a sense of time to it, we're just meant to know time is going and so so and so things have occurred. It went from one place to another, which made it hard to follow it well, you have to pay full attention when reading this book. The story although beautiful in my opinion was poorly written, the writing style needs a lot work to make the story shine as bright as it ought to because the concept of this story is wonderful.

It should be noted I received and read an ARC of this book, and it is noted in it that this book isn't finished or corrected. So I do hope the finished book is way better and much more impressive.

As a Nigerian, I feel sad because I was really really excited and thrilled for this book.


Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews247 followers
December 7, 2017
1.5 Stars

Unfortunately after a very promising start, the whole thing just went down the drain...

The beginning was actually amazing! I was reading another book, and I was getting tired by it, so I decided to start another story in the hopes that I would win the "book jackpot", and for awhile I was really happy, patting myself on the back and all that...
I was even ignoring the lacking writing, unfortunately after a little longer it became evident that this wasn't going anywhere, and I was getting really tired of Taj and his hair... issues.
Also, what was that with the Princess's attitude? Male wishful thinking?
She's a Princess, I don't care how nice she is, but she wouldn't behave as a servant.
Also, the guard, the female guard having to guard Taj while he was bathing?!
Give me a break. -_-
Profile Image for Santiago Villalba.
150 reviews21 followers
September 4, 2018
Ustedes no se hacen una idea de lo indignado que estoy con este libro. Tenía TODO para que me gustara, y les juro que intenté con todas mis fuerzas que me gustara. Pero acabo de terminar de leerlo y no entendí un carajo.
Prometía ser una historia genial. Una ambientación súper original, fantasía con influencias de la cultura nigeriana, devoradores de pecados, un sistema de magia original y complejo, un joven capaz de controlar a las bestias del pecado... El mundo que creó el autor de verdad es para ponerse de pie y aplaudirlo. Pero siento que no encontró una buena historia para contar dentro de ese mundo, o al menos no supo cómo contarla. La narración es lentísima, con unos giros minúsculos en la trama que dejan al lector con ganas de llegar a la parte donde se desencadene todo y empiece la acción. Bueno, eso pasa recién faltando unas 60 páginas para terminar el libro, y es todo súper confuso y vago. Me dio la impresión de que originalmente era un único libro y luego decidieron dividirlo en dos partes y le agregaron relleno.
En fin, si le puse dos estrellas en vez de una fue porque el worldbuilding me pareció magnífico, es una lástima que el autor lo haya desaprovechado de esa forma. Como soy masoquista a lo mejor me animo a darle una oportunidad a la secuela, solo porque es una bilogía y porque el worldbuilding realmente me gustó.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
October 9, 2019
Omg I loved everything about this audiobook!

Beasts Made of Night has been on my radar for a really long time. Ever since I saw the cover and other people reading it - I wanted it. Unfortunately, it took me forever to do so but I guess it worked out in the end because I loved it!

Taj is probably the coolest main character I’ve met today. He is a sin-eater which sounds kind of interesting. He’s the best at what he does so it was pretty hard to believe that the royals wanted his best friend to help instead of him. In a world where your sins make you into a beast and he has to eat you.. yeah I’m down. Sign me up because Taj has me intrigued.

Of course things don’t always go as planned though. Which of course got me even more invested into everything. After meeting Taj, I loved him. As for the other characters, eh the jury is still out for that. I just think some things that happened in this book could’ve gone a little differently. Maybe? No idea but maybe the next book will give me another person to love.

Overall, loved this and definitely need the next book in this series!!
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews710 followers
January 4, 2018
I think there is this general conception that for a fantasy novel to be truly good, it needs to have about a 1,000,000 pages and at 304 pages, Beasts Made of Night is not a particularly long book. Do not and I repeat do NOT let that fool you. Tochi Onyebuchi packs a fucking punch in those 304 pages. World building? You got it. Adventure? You got it. A mother-fucking rebellion? YOU GOT IT. Beasts Made of Night isn't just a great novel for fantasy readers but also for people too vary of the genre because of its reputation for long-winded novels that take lifetimes to get through.

Onyebuchi has a background in screenwriting and honestly, the high stakes and the quick pace of the novel really reflect this. For some people, this might be a bad thing because it might seem as a compromise on the world building but I definitely did not think that was true for the novel. The world of Beasts Made of Night is so incredibly rich and I felt myself being transported to it through detailed descriptions of foods, social settings, etc.

I think the only time the short length of the novel might have been a drawback is that it does mean we don't get a leisurely introduction to the world that allows us to ease into a new setting that happens in so many fantasy novels but once I got used to being in the world of Kos, I found myself fascinated by the world Onyebuchi had crafted for his readers.

And perhaps my fascination with the world building shows because I've just spent two paragraphs talking about it but don't you worry because Beasts Made of Night is also equipped with characters you want to root for. Taj is a complex character who is in flux like many teens (fantastical or not) and he is easy to relate to even if we may not always be stressing out about the same things. His internal struggles as he tries to understand the spectrum of good/bad is so real and I love how Tochi Onyebuchi writes his coming of age.

There are a number of secondary characters that aid Taj on his mission many who are worth mentioning but I won't because I am lazy (but also because there are SO MANY of them.) I love that even though Taj has lone wolf vibes all over him, he still has friends? Who like him (most of the times)? And SUPPORT HIM? I know, so many surprises here.

There are so many reasons this book is worth reading and I honestly cannot even begin to formulate the words to really get these points across so I'd just like to kindly push y'all to read this book and join me in my little fangirl bubble while we wait to hear news about a Book 2.

***This review has also been posted one Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Sarah.
137 reviews25 followers
June 22, 2017
I received an e-ARC of this novel from Penguin Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

When I first heard about this novel, I was instantly intrigued - I had never read a Nigerian-influenced novel before, let alone a fantasy one. However, I came to the decision to DNF at 66%. I didn’t make this decision easily, and I feel as if I have left myself down for not finishing, but I just couldn’t continue.

At first, I was really excited and intrigued by the novel and the premise; however, that quickly dissipated as I found myself getting easily distracted and putting the book down, which for me, is not a good sign.

I persisted and I started to find some promising points within the novel, the sins were very interesting and the way they manifested etc. The magic of it all was fascinating, and I felt it represented an insight into how in some countries/cultures (and some privileged people) view the under-privileged, and how, if you’re different, you’re seen as something to be avoided. In this case, the aki (sin-eaters) were seen as dirty, as they were marked (tattooed) by the sins they ate to keep the privileged “pure”.

The aki were controlled by the mages – people with the ability to draw the sin into “form” – where the aki then killed the “beasts” and fed. I loved the concept of it all. But the novel lost me as soon as it hit “insta love” (instant love). All of a sudden, a princess was on the scene, and she and Taj touched a handful of times, and Taj loved her? It made no sense to me, and was so left-field, it threw me out of the book.

While I found the concept interesting, I found that I was unable to connect to a single character, and the “insta love” halfway through the novel nearly killed it for me. I continued in the hope that I would find something that clicked, but there was nothing. The main protagonist, Taj, infuriated me. He was childish in my opinion, even though he was supposed to have matured fast. He was the “Lightbringer”, but he was just so frustrating, and his immaturity as he trained other aki ruined the book for me.

To top it off, the plot felt disjointed. One minute Taj was a “dirty aki” on the streets, called to the palace to eat sins – the next minute he was serving as the king’s personal aki, where he fell in love with someone he barely knew. Then, Taj was suddenly asked to lead the aki (sin-eater) training, and had to leave the palace. It felt like he had only been there for all of five minutes in the first place.

I will attempt to give this novel another try upon its paperback release in October 2017 – perhaps the ebook format hindered my read – but for now this novel will sit as a DNF.
I'm giving it 2 STARS as I will purchase this upon it's release.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
July 27, 2017
This Nigerian-inspired fantasy was exceptional from beginning to end. I was entranced by the world that Onyebuchi creates: one where monsters of sin are summoned from people and devoured by the aki, or sin-eaters. One where delicious, steaming descriptions of food are as prevalent as the congested and noisy stalls of the Forum, layered with corruption and poverty. One where the main character, Taj, is beginning to discover has hidden secrets that could change the city of Kos.

Review to come (and more?!) to come at One Way Or An Author!
July 12, 2018
Review first shown

I think it’s obvious to say that the description of a “Nigerian-influenced fantasy” had me completely sold since the moment I laid eyes on this book. Then there was my upcoming trip to Africa so I just HAD to get my hands on a copy and I wasn’t at all disappointed.

The concept of sins being eaten I have seen before in the Sin Eaters Daughter which was an ok YA book but I liked more how this one felt more authentic in terms of culture and settings. There were many negative and DNF reviews around this book and it doesn’t have a high general rating, but for me this was a breath of fresh air in the diverse fantasy genres.

So as I said the concept of eating sins I have seen before but here the portrayal of the sin beasts and the aki who kill and eat them was done really well. The descriptions of the life of the aki and the culture of the city around them was described with beautiful writing and rich detail. Our main character Taj was someone I could emphasise with all through the book as he was very well-developed and easy to imagine. He was also a very fun and entertaining character who was strong and not afraid to stand up for what he believes is right. Many have said this book is too dense and slow for them but I got through it quite quickly as I found everything so rich and lavishly described it was hard for me to put it down. 😛

Even though I struggle to see why so many others found this book boring, I can still see why some might dislike the plot as it was quite a strange story in the end with a lot of things not making sense. There were also holes in the world building I thought, as I had many questions regarding the sin beasts, religion and the world outside Kos that still remained unanswered even at the end. The motives of the other characters were also not really clear at the end and it does make me wonder where the author is going to take things in the next book… but I really can’t wait to find out! 😀
Profile Image for Noria.
202 reviews
February 6, 2019
The premise of this book was fantastic. The execution... not so much. Although I loved the fact that it was inspired by Nigeria and seeing familiar words and foods and names made me smile, I had a problem with the pacing. The set up was good, the world was vivid and the character engaging... at first. But then the book dragged and plodded for 120-150 pages, and we got a climax that was... rushed. The villains were cookie cutter with no real motivations and were just bad for the sake of being bad. And the last villain seemed like he’s had a personality transplant to make him a villain and the sudden change was jarring.

I did love the Algebraic based magic system. I thought it was unique and fascinating and I enjoyed it (even though I’m not a big fan of Maths)
Profile Image for Atlas.
716 reviews29 followers
November 12, 2017
Sins weigh us down, and if you carry them with you past death, the earth and the sky both will reject you

* *
2 / 5

Beasts Made of Night has been on my radar for a couple of months because it sounded fantastic: sin taking form as beasts, a young man whose job is to devour the sins of others, a dark conspiracy, and the cover is gorgeous. I love a dark, intriguing, conspiracy-laden fantasy novel from time to time, but unfortunately Beasts Made of Night but the writing was lacklustre at best and nobody other than the main character had any, well, character.

"I think about what that apprentice Aliya said about sin-spots being poems, but here at night it's too dark to read whatever might be written on me"

The beginning is great. Taj is an aki, a sin-eater; people sin and this builds up inside of them, making them sicker and sicker until a priest performs a ritual on them, drawing forth the sin. This sin takes the form of a shadowy animal which must be fought, killed, and consumed by youngsters like Taj. Once consumed, the animal becomes a mark upon the sin-eater's skin, sort of like a tattoo. We open with Taj, a young and strong man with a difficult life, fighting such a beast; I thought the entire concept was really awesome and unlike anything I've read. Upon eating the sin of a royal family member, Taj is involved in a twisting and turning plot involving betrayal, a children's army, and a really weird-ass princess. I really didn't understand her and it's a pretty major case of instalove.

Beasts Made of Night reads like a first draft of a novel. The content is good, the plot has glittering potential, and I just loved all the background setting. But it really needed polishing up: the writing needed smoothing out, the scenes needed to flow, my attention needed to be captured rather than just drifting along, the slew of secondary characters need some excitement. There's three or four women in this book, a servant, a sin-eater, a childhood friend, a studying mage, and a princess, and they all sort of merged into one amorphous blob with little personality; Taj seems to be fascinated by each in turn. My favourite was, however, the apprentice mage, full of curiosity and scientific knowledge; I also loved Taj's childhood friend, who joins a group of renegades whose choice of rebellion is graffiti. I would have loved to know more about the scribes!

"Finally a tradition that has nothing to do with sins and aki and us bearing the guilt of others"

That's the biggest problem with this book, really: it's never quite enough. Not enough detail, not enough drama, not enough character exploration, not enough plot, and it's all strung together by rough writing. There's some great quotes and ideas, but mostly I just drifted through this book dispassionately, but really wanting to find something to love about it.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book

Read this review and more on my blog: http://atlasrisingbooks.blogspot.co.u...
Profile Image for Sarah Marie.
1,897 reviews232 followers
August 29, 2017
DNF @ page 65

Beasts Made of Night takes place in the city of Kos and follows Taj, an aki. Akis are sin-eaters who feed off the sins of people and gain tattoos when they have conquered or fed upon the beasts made from sin. This novel has a very strong premise enriched and influenced by Nigerian storytelling/mythology. I believe that many readers will greatly enjoy and appreciate the world that Tochi Onyebuchi has woven together.

However, I'm not one of those readers. I wanted so badly to love this, but the mythology, while interesting, wasn't grabbing my attention and I found it hard to connect to the city of Kos. The writing is very awkward and lacks a stylistic flow that cohesively connects the story together. This throws the pacing off and makes it hard to stay immersed in the world. It's hard to stay invested in a fantasy world that doesn't grab your attention and hold it. If I can put a fantasy novel down and only find myself questioning its purpose and the point, then that fantasy novel has not captured my attention. This is why Beasts Made of Night didn't win me over as a fantasy story.

As a novel (without focusing on the fantasy elements), Beasts Made of Night failed to connect me to the protagonist. I know that the main character is named Taj, but I don't know Taj. I read 65 pages of Taj's story and I feel like I only know his basic Tinder profile. I don't want to read a story where I can't connect to a hero I'm supposed to be rooting for. I need that connection in a story, especially in a fantasy driven novel.

While Beasts Made of Night didn't work for me personally, I know that many will love this story and the incorporation of Nigerian culture. However, mythology alone cannot be the one positive thing a story has to offer for me to continue reading. I recommend picking this one if the summary interests you because I think it was just my personal reading tastes that hindered me from enjoying this fantasy novel.

Thank you, First to Read and Penguin (Razorbill), for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 15 books2,497 followers
October 23, 2017
The worldbuilding...is so good...as is the MC voice and exploration of class system...just read it... I don't know why I'm writing this as if I'm saying it with my dying breath but that somehow feels right.
Profile Image for Christine Spoors.
Author 1 book446 followers
October 13, 2017
I really enjoyed this Nigerian inspired fantasy and loved the world that Onyebuchi created with sin-eaters called aki, like the main character Taj, who are paid to slay sin-beasts. When they slay the sin-beast they take on the sin themselves and get a painful tattoo. I've never read anything like this before!!

I couldn't decide if I was going to give this book 3 or 4 stars. I loved the writing, the world and the idea of the aki but I felt like this book needed another 100 pages or so. Some parts felt rushed and I think it needed a little more character development. I would happily have read a much longer version of this book because I really liked the author's writing.

I absolutely loved reading about a fantasy world based on Nigeria and their mythology. I don't know enough to say what was from mythology and what the author created, but it all blended together so well. It seems like the main religion in this book is based on Islam and that was amazing to read about. I've been excited for this book since it was announced, so I am glad it was as wonderful as I hoped. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy!

Reading from the main character Taj's POV was great. It made me realise that we rarely get male main characters in YA fantasy so it made a nice change. Taj was an interesting mix of both stubborn and selfless and I really hope there is a second book so we can find out what happens to him next.

My main issue with this book was just the length, I think any issues I had with it feeling rushed or clunky could have been fixed had it been longer. The ending confused me a little as plot twists and character motives were being revealed at random.

I read an ARC which I picked up at YALC 2017 so can't say what the final book will be like, things may have changed!
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
October 17, 2017
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

In the city of Kos the nobility task mages with magically calling forth their sins in the form of sin-beasts... But what to do with the lethal creatures spawned from the guilt? Pay a pittance to aki, young sin-eaters to kill the creatures and take the sins on themselves. The cost to these children is a physical tattoo as well as the sin appearing in their minds, accumulate too many and the aki is driven mad. Taj is the most talented aki in the city, refusing to take the emotional toll he stays distant from everyone in the hopes of staying alive... until he crushes on a princess who has other plans for him.

I'm going to be really controversial here and state that Taj is very diverse, almost uncomfortably so... and I LOVED that about him! He isn't just an American with dark skin, no, no, he is Nigerian. He not only acts Nigerian and is even given movements that speak to his heritage, but he is a genuine 17 year old boy and shares common traits to all teenage boys. So if you're looking for a cookie cutter character that looks the look but doesn't walk the walk then this book isn't for you... it's definitely aimed at readers who ENJOY own voices and the authenticity of characters no matter their diversity or their commonality! (The talk about the poof and the hair is so cute and such a marvelous way you remind us of his racial profile without being overt about it! ♥️)

The setup was EXCELLENT! Onyebuchi is on his way to being a gifted author. I loved the way he showed us the city. We got the layout and the power struggles all through well developed scenes and natural moments when circumstances could be brought up without feeling like info dumps. This IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL narrative! You are NOT simply being TOLD everything by Taj... he is taking you around and letting you decide for yourself... its on the reader to connect many of the dots and infer... I LOVE this type of story craft!! It makes for a more immersive story where you start to put yourself in the same circumstances as the protagonist.

Not ALL Readers are going to enjoy it... Simply being that the MC is a boy... a 17 year old boy who DOES NOT act like a 30 year old but a REAL LIVE 17 year old... Yeah so he kind of falls a little for each girl he meets and hits on them. He's unabashedly crushing on a princess... well because she's pretty and nice to him. He over thinks the situations he's in and thinks of them from a more self centered position. BUT, you say, I'M FINE WITH ALL THAT! Yes, but that is all paired with a more immersive prose where you have to become that 17 year old boy... SO THE STORYCRAFT is EXCELLENT but if you don't connect to that boy there isn't a whole lot in the prose to float you along.

The prose is rich in details but lacks the overt emotionalism of say Laini Taylor. It's good writing but IT IS NOT what YA readers are used to. Personally I would have stripped the narrative of some of the description since the POV dictates that the reader must follow him through the environment and frankly its too cluttered as is...

Still I personally was fascinated with the world building and the sin-eating premise! The way the sin-eating process was worked was creative and freaky... the inisisa were difficult to battle and yet were a great physical manifestation of sin. The city of Kos was rather isolated and created this very small world in which the story takes place. The little details about their culture like the jeweling and the artists who paint the walls enriched that world. We only get hints about outside and so its all about the nobility and what they want at any given time. The fact that they continually combed for kids to force out of their homes to eat sins was quite heart breaking to me. There is this very real use of children that gave the world authenticity...

Now for the plot... about 40% and the plot starts to unwind... It's not bad or wrong but it IS NOT the direction one expects when told a story is about sin-beasts and those who eat them... we start to see here that the story is actually more slice of life with Taj at its center. While I enjoyed the book, at this point, the story feels almost completely devoid of plot. It DOES have plot but we don't know ANYTHING of what is affecting Taj's circumstances so it all feels random and rushed. There are characters in the background fighting for their ideas and dreams for the city and they affect Taj but we ONLY SEE the outcome.

I actually enjoyed Arzu, Zainab, Aliya and Bo who are all friends with Taj at one point or another coming and going with the larger plot changes but none of them were with Taj consistently enough for me to feel attached. And because of the nature of the prose we didn't feel Taj's own attachment! Stronger plot with more events would have helped with this relationship problem... I was really interested in Taj's relationship with Bo but then that friendship is abandoned and when Bo reenters the story its dissatisfying! There is the idea thrown around that there was insta-love... it's more a crush like boys his age are wont to have, still it smacks of another element that just doesn't jive with what YA readers enjoy.

I actually enjoyed Zainab MORE than Taj and could have seen her as a potential 2nd POV character. In fact this world and the prose would have benefited from a multiple POV treatment.

Overall as a reader I LOVED the world... I NEED more from the world and would definitely be up to read the next book in the series! While the end was not the steady, strong start, being a little muddled and rushed, it was twisty with a lot of battles! BATTLES were what we were looking forward to all along... I also think most will be surprised by the end, unfortunately if you didn't engage with Taj you may not care... That doesn't change the fact that Taj grew through the course of his book and came out the other end a better 17 year old than he went in!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Premise & World Building
⋆⭐⭐⭐⭐ Development & Storycraft
⋆⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing & Narrative
⋆ ⋆⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⋆ ⋆⭐⭐⭐ Relationships
⋆⭐⭐⭐⭐ Cover & Title
⋆⭐⭐⭐⭐ Feelings

BOTTOM LINE: A Nigerian boy who must eat sins at the whim of the nobility... a great debut book!

Thanks to Penguin First to Read program for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter...
Profile Image for Whitney.
331 reviews8 followers
November 14, 2017
I was so so SO excited to read this because it didn’t sound like anything that I had ever read before. It’s not your typical fantasy type novel and I was instantly hooked into reading it by the premise and the cover. I mean, look at that cover! It’s gorgeous!

However, the premise and cover are really all this story has going for it. The premise was amazing but the execution fell flatter than its characters. The synopsis speaks of a conspiracy but we don’t see any hints of it until the last 80 pages. I’m not joking. The whole book revolves around Taj, his little adventures (that add nothing to the plot line, mind you), and yet it goes…nowhere.

Almost nothing happens in this book until the very end. It’s almost like the author had this really great world idea and magic system idea and decided “I’m going to write about this!” and then has no idea about plot, villain, or conflict until he’s at the very end when it hits him that he really had no goal with the story and goes “Oh shit! Let me throw this in!”

I spent so much of this book so confused as to what was going on because we’re thrust into the middle of this world with no explanation of things, as if we, the reader, are expected to automatically know what this word means or anything about the city, its people, or even the magic system. It was almost like I was reading a Nigerian version of Lost the tv show. I really feel as if a glossary would have been extremely helpful considering there were so many names of things that were just put into text with no thought as to explanation for the readers understanding.

Also, there’s the most insta of insta-loves that I’ve ever seen. Taj meets this girl, immediately feels as if she’s his ‘heart-mate’ (despite having said earlier in the book that he has no aspirations of having a ‘heart-mate’ or getting married) and falling completely in love. He and this chick literally see/interact with each other less than five times and he’s enamored…until she’s not in his sight. The only time his feelings ever get explored is when he’s in the same room with her.

Taj gets roped into joining this rebel cause but no one explains anything to him. Purple prose histories are given that have nothing to do with the whole rebellion and Taj’s reaction was the same as mine. “HUH!?’ Like, he literally has no idea what’s going on until they tell him they want him to use this one special power to help them. Did I mention he’s only used this one special power once? And by accident at that! Like…how are you going to build this whole revolution around this one kid’s power that you’ve only seen once and don’t really know if it’s reliable or not?

Oh, and there’s a plot twist. A few, in fact. But, you can’t twist a plot that wasn’t there. These reveals were made and instead of being completely shocked and impressed by them, I was annoyed. THERE WAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL FOR THIS TO BE AMAZING AND IT WASN’T BECAUSE THE AUTHOR LITERALLY BLABBED ABOUT NOTHING FOR PAGES AND PAGES INSTEAD OF BUILDING UP TO SOMETHING! I am just…so angry about this whole thing.

I felt like I read half a book, to be honest. It felt rushed at some points, bare bones at others, flat out boring in some areas, and just…not done well at all. This is obviously a prime example of an unfinished book that definitely needed to be thoroughly edited by someone with the gall to tell the author that he had absolutely nothing storywise going for him.
Profile Image for Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob).
982 reviews12 followers
January 7, 2018
Premise is interesting, execution left a bit to be desired.

The good, how often do you get a YA book that incorporates some parts of Nigerian culture? Not often enough. The overall idea was also very interesting.

The bad, just not enough character development on the other characters. I feel like a stronger structural choice would have been to swap back and forth between Bo and Taj. This becomes especially apparent in the last 20 pages. Additionally, Taj is one of those characters that doesn't connect with everyone. I don't usually care that I cannot connect with a main character because that usually means there is a secondary character I can connect with. Unfortunately, I got close to connecting with Bo as a character, but, then he's at a different location for a significant portion of the book. The female characters each get a small part in the story then location changes remove characters and add different ones.

Who will enjoy this book? That's easy actually, if you connect with Taj right away, then you will probably enjoy this book. He has a very distinctive personality that doesn't connect with everyone which is why I think you see the wide variation in the reviews. Based on Taj's interactions with characters in the book, Taj wouldn't like me at all, so it was uncomfortable to spend the whole book with him.. lol I was practically waiting for him to look up from the pages of the book and tell me to get lost.

Anyways, still glad I read it and will even give the sequel a shot when it comes out. Really hoping for some stronger secondary characters next time though.
Profile Image for Minxy Melissa.
2,411 reviews67 followers
August 14, 2023
I did enjoy the writing and the attention to detail that painted very vivid scenes for me in Beasts Made of Night. What I did not feel was any kind of connection to the story. I did not get behind any one character. I felt completely detached throughout the entire read and that is very unusual for me. The fantasy was truly an adventure and I love the Nigerian-Influence that is prevalent throughout. I believe that there are going to be very many readers who love this story and are swept away by their imagination, this was just not the case for me.

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from First Reads. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
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