Christophor Morden lives by night. His day-brother, Alexsander, knows only the sun. They are two souls in a single body, in a world where identities change with the rising and setting of the sun. Night-brother or day-sister, one never sees the light, the other knows nothing of the night. Early one evening, Christophor is roused by a call to the city prison. A prisoner has torn his eyes out and cannot say why. Yet worse: in the sockets that once held his eyes, teeth are growing. The police suspect the supernatural, so Christophor, a member of the king’s special inspectorate, is charged with finding the witch responsible.
Night-by-night, Christophor’s investigation leads him ever further from home, toward a backwards village on the far edge of the kingdom. But the closer he gets to the truth, the more his day-brother’s actions frustrate him. Who is Alexsander protecting? What does he not want Christophor to discover? And all the while, an ancient and apocalyptic ritual creeps closer to completion…
Thanks to NetGalley and AdAstra Books for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
It’s now been far too long since I actually read this book, and this post has been sitting unwritten in my drafts since May. I enjoyed reading this book, but I found myself at the end struggling to say much about it… the stand out thing is still what drew me to the story in the first place, which is the fact that it’s set in a world in which every body hosts two separate personalities: their day self and their night self. Some lead similar lives on both sides of the sunrise, but many are wildly different, and the main characters Christophor and Alexsander definitely fit into this category. Christophor is one of the king’s Special Inspectors; stern, by the book, and used to dealing with difficult and unpleasant situations. His day-brother Alexsander is a free spirit, a musician who knows how to navigate the levels of society and charm his way anywhere.
When Christophor is called to investigate a particularly gruesome crime believed to be cause by magic, it’s impossible to keep Alexsander completely separate from the unfolding events, and the two will have to work together in spite of their disagreements if they want to make it through. The earlier chapters are all told from Christophor’s perspective, and the only hints of his day-brother are in the faded thoughts and feelings he wakes up with at sunset. Then, things shift and we start seeing things from Alexsander’s point of view as well, which adds an extra layer to the narrative.
I have to say that, after the first part of the investigation which involved a lot more action and some death, it seemed to just become about the brothers interacting with the townsfolk and being constantly suspicious. It did begin to drag… and I will also admit to having skimmed the final chapters, where all the action occurred, because by that point I was no longer invested in the build up, and it all happened a little too suddenly. So, in short, it was an excellent premise with some very good vibes, but the story itself left me disappointed.
Published: 12th May 2022 by Head of Zeus
Format read: eARC
Content Warnings: death, body horror, blood