They Mostly Come Out At Night by Benedict Patrick
Posted Fall 2018
I got this book last week on the Kindle. The author, /u/BenedictPatrick, was offering the book for free on due to another book in the Yarnsworld series, From the Shadows of the Owl Queen's Court, being released around this time. The cover art grabbed me - the art style is very distinctive and enticing.
This was the first self-published book that I've read. I honestly was not aware that it was self-published until a few pages into the novel (hello again, professional cover art). There was a dangling preposition or two and a couple of strange grammatical turns that made me wonder. So I looked into it and lo and behold, it was self-published!
Aside from a few grammatical errors here and there, I had a couple of formalistic issues with the novel, foremost some stilted dialogue between main character Lonan and love interest Branwen and early antagonist Jarleth. Many of the other characters had excellent interactions, especially Adahy, his father, Maedoc, and the rest.
There were a couple of scenes that felt like they could have been cleaned up a touch for pacing's sake, but the pacing overall was extremely good. It grabbed me and did not let me go.
I do not want to let any of the foregoing make you think that I disliked the book! Let me say it in no uncertain terms: the book was great! I was hooked from the first pages. The interstitial chapters, the little fairy tales told by the High Corvae and the Low Corvae, was a fantastic stylistic touch that wound pieces of the story together so that at the end you were left with a very unique sense of enjoyment. Like a weaver with his warp and weft, Benedict saw the story branch out in a few different directions and come together for a satisfying, if melancholy, ending.
The mythology was fantastic. I loved how the different peoples of the unnamed forest and environs were animal worshiping tribes. Aside from the Corvae and Wolves, there was not much exploration of the other animal tribes, aside from a mouse meeting his end for cowardice and an owl marrying the Magpie King.
Speaking of whom: the magic of the Magpie King was a cursed lot for those not of Adahy's bloodline, which added to the sense of sadness at the end when Lonan eats of the black flower. The ending reminded me quite a bit of 30 Days of Night, which also saw the protagonist infected with that which would be his end so that he might stop his enemies. It was a sacrifice without cathartic release, which is one of the greyest ways that things could have ended.
In all, I think the few nitpicky issues I had with the book can be largely chalked up to the fact that this was Benedict's first book. I feel some of the unevenness is simply a matter of craft. Rough edges are always normal in the early days, in my experience. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the Yarnsworld series, and I will be sure to recommend this novel to anyone looking for an original take on a fantasy world.