This is another wonderful installment in the Yarnsworld series, each book is a self-contained story set in the same world, and all of them are amazing. I first started reading this series way back in the day when the cover for They Mostly Come Out At Night caught my attention during a sale. I’m so glad I started with this series because each subsequent book has been just as imaginative as the first. The author has continued to hone and polish his skills as a storyteller which has lead to this being one of my favorite series of books. We have also returned to the Magpie forest from the first book which was super exciting for me.
Nascha and Bradan are at the focus of this story, at first it’s not obvious how these two arcs will intertwine, but it does happen about 30% through the book and their journeys twist around each other in ways I didn’t anticipate keeping me on my toes.
The book opens with Nascha drinking poison, readers are kept in the dark as to why she’s drinking poison, but you know it’s a burden to her and you know that it’s to help keep a secret of hers from the rest of the castle. Nascha lives and serves in the castle of the Owl Queen and her daughter, Princess Laurentina. I liked the portrayal of Laurentina and the way the two girls had a delicate and fragile friendship – the princess is both a buffer from harm and a potential source of danger for Nascha. Things eventually take a turn for the worse which forced Nascha to flee for her life. She has no choice but to run off with a mysterious man known as a “Gentleman Fox” into the Magpie forest, a forest that’s full of monsters that mostly come out at night :).
There are multiple types of magic in this world, one of them being a more mundane Knack which is very common, some people have fishing Knacks, cooking Knacks, cleaning Knacks etc. Other magics are more rare. Being blessed or chosen by a Spirit will give a few select people more power than just a simple Knack. There’s the Lion spirit, Magpie spirit, The Lady of the Forest, The Owl Queen etc. Each Spirit bestows a different sort of power on the humans they favor. The Gentleman Fox appears to be a hero for Nascha, but she learns at her expense that appearances can be deceiving.
Bradan is dealing with the fact that his father now has the powers of the Magpie King despite not really being the Magpie King. The powers are almost like poison to his father, it corrodes his father’s mind and leaves him unstable, unpredictable, and unreliable. Due to those circumstances, their relationship is rocky and Bradan wants to find a way to make himself more powerful so he can take over protecting the people of the forest. These two characters meet while in the forest of the Magpie King and things kick off from there.
I really enjoyed the journey and character arc for Nascha, she starts off as a servant who’s more on the meek side and turns into a force to be reckoned with. I found Bradan’s journey to be more bittersweet, with things not always working out the way you may hope for him. They both had very distinct motivations, voices, and personalities which brought depth to their journies and the story as a whole.
The writing in this was fantastic, it can be very atmospheric without coming off as too flowery. Some of the creepiest scenes I’ve read in a while came up in this book, including a super fucked up wedding. The pacing was on point as well, it was steady throughout the book without rushing or dragging in any particular spot. I read through this very quickly due to both the writing style, the way the plot was laid out, and the time it took to switch between POV’s. Sometimes authors will rush or drag out a certain POV’s chapters and it can be either jarring when it’s done too quickly or drag if it’s taking too long to switch back. It was a very clean book with very few grammar errors, the only thing I caught was a couple backward or missing quotation marks.
The originality for Benedict’s work is always off the charts for me, there’s really no other author out there who writes stories the way he does. One of my favorite aspects of his novels are the very brief but super interesting interludes where we are treated to folk tales within Yarnsworld. They add understanding and intrigue to the world without being info dumps. Many times authors will try and shove stories like these into a dialogue between several characters and it just never quite works. Removing the dialogue aspect makes it feel much less like characters are telling each other things they should already know, which can be awkward, and more along the lines of listening to a story around a campfire.
- Plot: 12/15
- Characters: 12.5/15
- World-Building: 15/15
- Writing: 13.5/15
- Pacing: 13.5/15
- Originality: 15/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Final Score: 91.5/100 = 9.1/10 = 5 stars on GR
Here’s where you can find it on Amazon. It’s free on KU but look at that cover, wouldn’t it be nice on your shelf?