These Violent Nights | By Rebecca Crunden
BBNYA finalist / YA dystopian Fantasy | TheWriteReads BlogTour
Once upon a time, inhabitants of another world tore a hole through the universe and came to Earth. They called themselves Suriias, and rivalled humans in knowledge and skill with one great exception: they had magic.
War followed. Humanity lost. And three hundred years later, humans are on the brink of extinction.
Orphans Thorn and Thistle live in hiding. They are the last of their families, the last of their friends. They scrape by, stealing to survive and living on the streets or hiding in sheds. But even under the brutal regime of the Suriias, there are places where humans can mingle in secret with magical sympathisers, and one night Thistle gets an unexpected offer of marriage from a Suriia with high standing and friends in all the right places. For Thistle, it’s a chance at safety and comfort; for Thorn, it’s a chance to find the ones who killed her parents.
And so the pair move into the capital city of Courtenz. An urban monstrosity of magic and might, false friends and flying cars, drones and death tolls, the new city promises a fresh start – and new love – for both.
But if there’s one thing Thorn knows for certain, it’s that dreams can swiftly turn into nightmares.
Narrative and Plot
I have never read a book that experimented with its narrative as much as this one. It is a bold move to turn your entire story in a different direction after getting halfway through it. I would have preferred the narrative a bit non-linear going back and forth between the two sequences, but clear about the timelines. However, this one works too despite being a bit disorienting.
The plot had a consistent theme, despite it being all over the place. This is quite different from the stories where you root for your main character to achieve one life goal. Here, however, your protagonist had life goals after life goals. Somehow you ended up rooting for them as they set out on each mission.
Characters and Conflicts
Thorn, Thistle, Nithin, and Kol felt like the core characters for me. The rest of the characters made an influx halfway through the story and it was hard to actually root for them. Although, Lucien managed to fit in quite well.
This was a story that could have benefitted far more from parallel narratives. Anyway, going to the core characters, Thorn is basically your protagonist. This is her story from page one. However, she is thoroughly flawed and sometimes it was hard to root for her when she had no qualms about committing to violence based on her own bitter experiences and resultant prejudices.
Lucien’s motivations were far too easy to understand. He had a pack and he protected the pack and you had to earn a place in the pack, human or Suriia. Thorn’s pack, however, was based on her own prejudice of whether one was human or not almost till the last quarter of the story.
One can understand her distrust and guarded nature when it came to others, but she kept everyone at bay even after they repeatedly proved their affinity to her including Nithin and Kol. Did she come far in the end as a protagonist? Indeed she did but only after her blind hatred was too unbearable to read. She was an exhausting main character but still not unlikeable.
And then there was Kol, who was not human but in every way felt like a privileged human who believed he cared and worked to make the world a better place.
Among the ensemble cast, Lucien and Nithin stood out as the most memorable.
Overall, These Violent Nights is more of a metaphor for a world filled with inequalities, the oppressed, and the oppressors. One would wish it shed more light on how a world would cope after so much history of suppression and inequality. However, one book should never hold that big of a responsibility, and I for one am glad that the fictional world at least stood a chance to make things right.
BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. It is organized by @TheWriteReads I received this book in exchange for an honest review for the BBNYA 2022.