Crown of Thunder by Tochi Onyebuchi is a strong sequel to Beasts Made of Night. It was nice to follow the main character, Taj, and his companion, Aliyah, as they flee from the destruction of their city and seek refuge in a small village peopled with aki like Taj. Although, in this village the aki are called Tastahlik, and their ability doesn’t just lie in eating sin-beasts, but transforming them into beasts made of light.
But this refuge is a brief haven, because the terrifying Princess Karima is after Taj, and she will do everything in her power – including corrupting Taj’s former best friend, Bo, – to get Taj back. And as though that’s enough, Aliyah’s having issues of her own. Issues that make Taj wonder if she’ll survive the changes happening to her.
I really enjoyed this sequel. I liked Tochi Onyebuchi’s development of his magic system, and I really liked seeing the Tastahlik’s ability to transform the terrifying sin-beasts into beautiful creatures. I thought that was quite a neat touch. The ending was hopeful, with the promise of another book in the series, but complete enough that you were left satisfied. The setting was also appealing. The characters are complex, with their own character arcs and unexpected developments that are quite intriguing.
Overall, though, this was a really excellent sequel, and I’m interested to see how the next book in Taj’s story plays out.
Review of an Advance Reader’s Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Razorbill
Violence/Gore: Many instances of violence and gore, including but not limited to: Characters are often pursued, threatened, and attacked by sin-beasts called inisisa; many instances of neighborhood “dahias” getting demolished; many instances of characters killing sin-beasts with dagas or other weaponry; a character is wanted dead or alive; characters are pursued by sin-eating aki who have been corrupted; characters see a caravan of prisoners; a character is threatened, bound, and blindfolded; a girl has a vivid scar on her neck; a girl collapses and blood comes from her mouth; many instances of characters calling forth sin from other characters; many instances of characters recalling attacks from inisisa; a girl has a seizure; a girl relates being a hostage and potential sacrifice; boys physically fight each other; a boy is locked in a dark room with a sin-beast, with the option to kill or be killed; a boy’s actions cause a leader to ban a segment of the clan; in an extended scene, characters fight sin-beasts for sport, a girl fights and kills four sin-beasts, a boy fights sin-beasts with his hands tied behind him, and a leader confronts the fighters and bans their game; characters are attacked by arashi and seek refuge from the destruction in basements; a few instances of characters seeing the dead strewn in the street after supernatural attacks; a character reveals being captured and forced to execute rebels as punishment; a character simulates death to escape her situation; in an extended scene, villagers are attacked by inisisa, a boy rescues a girl from a burning building, characters are attacked, threatened, and/or killed, animals fight other animals, a boy is nearly killed by a sin-beast, characters change sin-beasts into lights that explode, and characters are attacked and killed by armored inisisa; in an extended scene, a boy sees the carnage of an attack, leaps on a threatening horseman to save a character, a character is wounded with a dagger, characters attack a boy en masse, a character vomits sin-beasts to attack other characters, and a character is killed; a character is bound and knocked out, and wakens in a dungeon with the threat of torture; a man rescues a girl from falling into a chasm, but is unable to save himself; characters sacrifice themselves to save others; a character eats sin-beasts to save his friend, and dies.
Sex/Nudity: A boy recalls a girl touching his sin spots; a boy wakes from almost drowning with a girl’s mouth on his; a boy remembers kissing a girl; a boy and girl hold hands; girls embrace a boy; mention of characters falling in love and having a baby; mention of an unwed mother; men and women are said to be bare to the waist except for cloth over their chests; a boy and girl lay side by side on a ship; a girl reports being in love with another girl; a boy has feelings for a girl; a girl leans against a boy; a boy refers to a girl as someone’s heart-mate; a man reports how he met his wife and the birth of their daughter; two girls look lovingly at each other; two girls press their foreheads together; a boy realizes he was never meant to be a girl’s heart-mate; a boy and girl embrace; mention of two girls being in love; a girl wishes to be another girl’s heart-mate; a girl cuts off a boy’s shirt to reveal his sin spots, touches and caresses them.
Mature Subject Matter:
Attempted suicide, death of friends, death of a family member, racial conflicts, gender issues, war, separation, serious illness, abandonment, underage smoking, socioeconomic conflicts, lesbian couple (subtle introduction to).
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Boys frequently drink some sort of strong alcohol called “steggy”; a boy smells steggy in the air; characters smoke a “shisha” pipe.