book review, fantasy

Pariahs by Julia Benally

Step into a fantasy world when blood can be formed into a weapon, cats are soulless beings, and transport is via a Tyrannosaurus Rex type creature.

Three brothers live in a compound subject to the tyrannical Grand Apwor. Oldest is 23 year old N’Nar, finally an adult. Next is teenage Sibare, and youngest is 12 year old Vijeren. The brothers make the best of their difficult situation, managing to laugh because they have each other. However, when dire circumstances leave them isolated, each hunted by a different monstrous creature, will they be able to overcome their foes and reunite?

The world of Ilo is a breath taking vision, well thought out and complex in its details and language. I particularly loved the different types of animals that populated the planet. From the juvenile lizard like animals, used as beasts of burden until they mature and become wild killing machines, the contents of their intestines fermented into a foul drink (Cubon), to the cute rabbit rodents (awiks), and the giant frog fish that are as likely to eat the fisherman as be eaten, to the frightening beasts that hunt during periods of the day when no one can go aside.

Similarly the more magical creatures were equally as interesting. The soulless beasts, including the benevolent cats, who live in a beautiful kingdom. The hungry ghouls who search for children to eat or convert. Those gifted with the power to hunt them, using their very blood as a weapon.

Where the world building excelled, I’m afraid I was left wanting with the characters. They were certainly interesting enough, but they seemed to battle for attention amid the complex world they inhabited. With everything on Ilo so novel, I would have loved more information on how the society worked, why being claimed by a father was so important, and how commerce interacted between the different regions and social strata. Perhaps this information would have grounded the individuals in this truly fantastical world so that the stakes the characters faced could have felt more immediate and important.

I liked the three brothers, more so when they were separated and their characters came to the fore. Their care for each other was apparent, and I enjoyed seeing their different skills develop. However, when they were together they were often too flippant for my liking. They also cursed a lot, and while their language was not offensive, I would have preferred if they had used their dialogue more productively.

There is huge potential in this book, and I look forward to reading when Benally takes the Ilings in her next book. Fingers crossed there will be more positive female characters as the series continues.

I award Pariahs

Pariahs is available for $4 ebook and $15 print book on Amazon.

Read Julia Benally’s thoughts on how mythology and horror collide.

Read my answers to Julia’s questions about mythology and horror.

5 thoughts on “Pariahs by Julia Benally”

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