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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four and a Half Stars, 13 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Benighted (Paperback)
Lola Galley lives in a world where over 99% of the population are lycanthropes. As a 'bareback' for the one night a month of the full moon she patrols the town searching for transformed citizens breaking curfew, taking them into custody and prosecuting them. We follow her life over the course of one investigation.

For anyone attracted to this book because it has werewolves in it - proceed with caution. I'd classify this as alternative history rather than urban fantasy, set in a world where there are no simple answers, only difficult choices.

Lola works for DORLA (Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity). Everyone who works for DORLA is anmorphic - barebacks. They are the minority of the population put in charge of the majority when that majority cannot be responsible for their own behaviour - on the night of the full moon. DORLA have a separate legal system, they arrest without trial, interrogate, disappear people. But they do it within the framework the majority have given them. From the moment they are born a bareback's life course is already set, they will go to work for DORLA, there is no other choice for them.

Lola is not always an easy character to like. I jotted down whilst reading that she wasn't sympathetic but I feel this is wrong. It's only by reading the whole book that you understand her. Particularly her confrontation at the end, as she is trying to explain to a lyco what being a bareback is actually like. Her story is heartbreaking because she is caught in a hard, brutal life that she cannot escape from. Through Paul and Leo, Lola's life is opened to something new but it's such a fragile delicate thing. At the end of the book I was hopeful but I prefer happy endings. Some people may find the ending unsatisfying, but I think it fits with the tone of the rest of the book and is realistic to the world in which Lola lives.

There is a passage about halfway through which I think is the heart of the book.

"He didn't know this was the end of his life. If nobody warned him, he couldn't have known that he should have loved those last hundred yards, that they weren't just an obstacle to getting to where he planned, that the sounds of his feet on the pavement and the wind in the branches were all he was ever going to have."

You could take those words and apply them to most of the characters we meet - Lola, Paul, Johnny, Marty, Nate. I think on a re-read, I'd be mentally saying to the characters these are the moments you need to hold onto.

The story is beautifully crafted, the reason I've dropped a star, is that I'm not sure it's a book I would read again. It's made me think, still a couple of days after I've finished it I'm thinking about it. But I don't want to revisit Lola's world any time soon

Note - released as Bareback in the UK, this is the US version.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. And I do mean WOW., 31 Oct. 2006
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This review is from: Benighted (Paperback)
What an original idea! A world almost full of lycanthropes, and prejudiced against those who cannot change; those who are burdened with ensuring that the werewolf population doesn't kill each other on full moon nights.

Told from the viewpoint of one such benighted individual, this is a compelling and fascinating tale.

Now, usually, if I pick up a book and discover that it is written in the present tense, I will put it down. Having bought this from Amazon, I didn't know that it was written in this way until I got it, and after three pages, I was hooked. I still don't like present tense narrative, but it doesn't stop me giving this book five stars.

Whitfield is maybe a bit too heavy, a bit too literary, for some readers of thsi genre, but there is no doubt that she is a quality writer - she is very evocative and descriptive.

I loved this booka nd am eagerly awaiting delivery of the sequel.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Treat, 18 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Benighted (Paperback)
After reading so many American books, it's nice to read an urban fantasy book by a different author - this one is English, even though the city her characters inhabit is fictional. In a society where werewolves are hideously violent and definitely not living in secret, the nons - cruelly referred to as barebacks - are in charge of policing them, especially on the tense moon night. Legal adviser Lola Galley investgates as to who killed one of her best mates, but then the suspect - and likely culprit - goes missing. And it all has something to do with some questionable - illegal - medical practises. This novel is a real treat, and rare in that the author hasn't mentioned it being a series (this would never happen in the U.S.). Lola is a relatable narrator with emotions and conflictions that make her real. Get ready for a great read.
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Benighted by Kit Whitfield (Paperback - 8 Aug. 2006)
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