Good: Characters, tight writing, Kirin’s abilities, pacing
Not-so good: I want more setting, some modern assumptions put into a pre-industrial setting, too short!
Bad: –

Despite the name and the cover, this is a fantasy book. I would call it dark fantasy with elements of horror in it. This is part of my 2nds challenge and the ebook challenge.

I really liked the first book in this series, Blood Magic, which was just intense. This is somewhat less fast paced but that suits the story. Also, you don’t have to read the first book in order to make sense of this one which is always good.

Kirin is a scout in the Imperial Army which is increasingly desperately fighting the Mor. The Mor are alien beings who live below ground. Every once in a while they come to the surface in large masses and try to wipe out humankind. Kirin has lost her lover and many friends to the Mor.

She also has a secret which could get her killed: she’s a necromancer who can create undead things out of dead bodies. She calls them her sweetlings and before she considered them sort of her children. However, after she had a child, she swore that she would never use her powers again. She can also see the souls of the newly dead which uses the souls to create her undead. She also has the soul of her dead twin sister inside her. The sister makes comments with a voice only Kirin can hear.

Kirin and her friend Lia, who is a lighting mage, are on their way to the Imperial City where Lia’s father lives and where the war effort is being coordinated. Lia’s father is a high noble and also the leader of the elemental mages. During the journey through bitter winter, Kirin and Lia become lovers.

On the way, Kirin and Lia encounter a troop of soldiers fighting Mor. Lia and Kirin help them but afterwards Kirin gets a shock: she can see the souls of the dead Mor! The souls seem to hate and fear the humans – or maybe just Kirin. But she gets no answers from the mute souls.

Together the couple and the soldiers continue to the Imperial City which is under siege by the Mor. They manage to get inside. The city is quite a wonder to country-born Kirin. However, she has to constantly be on her guard against all others. Lia introduces her at court to scheming nobles which makes Kirin even more uncomfortable. At least, Kirin has her job as one of the City’s archers. However, then Kirin sees something on the streets of the city which reminds her of her sweetlings. Maybe she isn’t as unique as she thought she was?

Nights of Sin is mostly very quick paced and at the same time it’s very much a character centered tale. Kirin tries to adjust to life at court, has to reevaluate everything she knows about herself, and fight the deadly Mor at the same time. Kirin is a very strong character but she also has obvious vulnerabilities. In contrast, Lia has never had to hide her abilities as a lighting mage. She is used to a softer existence than Kirin. They make a very cute couple.

I mentioned in the no-so-good section that Cook puts some modern assumptions into his setting. One of them is that thin=rich and good. However, this can only happen when the poor have abundance to eat, when the food they eat is fattening (=lots of meat, cream, sugar…), and when they have desk jobs (=no manual labor). This is actually very rare in pre-industrial societies. Abundant food production just isn’t possible when whole towns starve after a poor harvest. In these societies, fat is the sign of wealth. (See! I told you I’m a settings freak!) However, this isn’t told in so many words but rather implied.

Another is that Kirin is the only female soldier we see and yet she doesn’t have to really prove herself. I find it a bit hard to believe that a society which is in the middle of a desperate war, has the luxury of turning down half of their potential fighting force. Sure, the vast majority of women are probably untrained but so are the majority of males. In fact, we even see some young men at the start of their training. The exclusion of women is even more galling when the Mor are known for killing everyone, including women and children. Then again there are women among the mages but I suspect that all of the mages are nobles or at least rich and the vast majority of women don’t have that luxury. Or the talent, for that matter. But these are really nitpicks.

This time we get a bit more information about the Mor which is welcome. Because Kirin is a necromancer, the book has some horror elements. Usually, I don’t care for horror but once again I was so engrossed with the story that they didn’t bother me (or maybe I’ve played so much table top role playing games that I don’t think of undead as horror). Fast-paced, engrossing, excellent!

Characters: 9, setting: 6 (on rather sparse info), plot 7, fun & excitement 9,5
Overall: 9,5

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