They Mostly Come Out At Night
Author: Benedict Patrick
Genres: fantasy, supernatural
Rating: ***½ (I went up to a 4 on Goodreads)
Lonan is an outcast, accused of letting the monsters that stalk the night into the homes of his fellow villagers. Now, he will not rest until he wins back the heart of his childhood love and reclaims the life that was stolen from him. However, locked safely in his cellar at night, in his dreams Lonan finds himself looking through the eyes of a young prince…
Adahy has a destiny, and it terrifies him. How can he hope to live up to the legend of the Magpie King, to become the supernatural protector of the forest and defender of his people? But when the forest is invaded by an inhuman force, Adahy must rise to this challenge or let the Wolves destroy his people.
Watching these events unfold in his sleep, Lonan must do what he can to protect his village from this new threat. He is the only person who can keep his loved ones from being stolen away after dark, and to do so he will have to earn back their trust or watch the monsters kill everyone that he holds dear.
I don’t think I’ve ever agonised over a rating this much.
First up, the bad. Lonan. The lead protagonist. For the first third of the book, I despised him. I nearly DNFed the book in the first chapter. Whiny, petulant, self-absorbed, ungrateful and entitled. Some characters are annoying or whatever for a reason but it felt like we were supposed to sympathise with Lonan and I would have preferred to give him a slap. He got better around the middle of the book and redeemed himself wonderfully at the end, but I wouldn’t have struggled to get into the story so much if he wasn’t so awful. The secondary protagonist Adahy was much more interesting and sympathetic, I was really rooting for him on his quest to become the Raven King.
Now, the good things. The plot was exciting and unusual. The twists in the final third? The endning? My poor heart! The world-building was great, the author really creates a completely new culture and society while creating an old-world feel. This is tied into another positive – the structure. Each chapter is followed by a short fable from either the villages (in the style of Grimm tales) or the nobility (in the style of Native American mythology). This gives the world a depth and texture, and helps to put you in the characters shoes. It’s great to see mythology used this way.
The author clearly intends this to be part of a series, and I’d probably pick up a second book before giving it up entirely. The world has so much potential and the plot is strong, however, the characterisation of leading characters would have to improve and the author’s writing of women in general throughout the book could have used work.