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Merle

Merle

Benighted - Kit Whitfield Benighted is a hard book to review: for starters, it's almost impossible to explain without spoilers. It includes lycanthropes (werewolves), but no magic and few action scenes, and delves deeper into moral and psychological issues than any urban fantasy I've ever read. It portrays a dystopia of sorts, but the point still seems to be the story, not some political message. There's a murder mystery or two involved, before the plot veers off in a direction you've probably never seen in a simple mystery novel. And then there's a bit of romance and family drama... naturally, they go in unexpected directions too. In short... in the UK, this book is simply classified as "literary," and I can see why.

I found this to be an incredible book, and not at all what I was expecting. Many people dislike the protagonist, so for the record, I really liked her... she struck me as a basically nice person with some issues (PTSD, maybe?), and a more realistic and well-developed character than I'd seen in quite awhile. Other reviewers have called it "dark," and in a way it is, but not in the way you'd expect for a book that includes crime and werewolves. This isn't a book about gruesome murders or intense humans-vs-werewolves fights... it's about people ("werewolf" seems like an inappropriate word to describe most of the lyco characters, and we see very few of them actually in their animal form). How far people will go when given impunity. To what extent a minority group will close ranks when faced with a hostile world--but wait--just how hostile is that world, really? Along with an original writing style, the lingering questions are probably what makes this book so intelligent and so worthwhile. And of course, it's also a good, entertaining story.