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Benighted by Kit Whitfield

I’m very picky about my fantasy reading. I don’t go for completely manufactured universes with complex rules and complicated creatures. On the contrary, I prefer a known world with a twist, and a story with something to say as opposed to paranormal creatures skulking in expected ways.

Whitfield created a world where werewolves are the norm, and ‘regular’ humans are nothing more than a genetic mutation. Non-lunes, as they are called, are an oppressed minority who are siphoned into the government agency DORLA as soon as they’re adult. This agency is responsible for monitoring the lunes during the full moon, and prosecuting any crimes that might occur because of it.

The story is told by a DORLA agent, Lola, who is part police and part public defender, but without the law degree. She takes the reader through the drudgery of being a public servant (paltry resources, long work hours, and even worse compensation), as well as baggage of being herded into shelters every full moon during her childhood and adolescent and suffering the abuse akin to being in a group home or homeless shelter. The novel discusses myriad ethical issues, including legal, medical and philosophical – and all without being preachy.

It’s a lengthy read, like a lot of fantasy novels, but accessible and linear enough to sustain the reader’s attention without a flow chart. And since it was published some time ago, it should be easy to find a copy in your local library or used book store.

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