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Benighted by Kit Whitfield
Review by Gayle Surrette
Del Rey Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0345491637
Date: 08 August, 2006 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The book starts out a bit slow. Not that there's not a lot going on but you've just been dropped into the deep end of the pool. Luckily, Ellaway is clueless about how much trouble he is in and what can be done to him. Lola in trying to explain it to him and in thinking about her own situation helps to fill us in on the world and its rules. It's nearly our world but non-lycos are second-class citizens or worse. It's a working world and once you stop trying to second-guess the author, you can see that it does works -- warts and all.

Lola is a non-lyco working as a legal representative in the Department for the Regulation of Lycantropic Activities (DORLA). She hates her life and to a great degree herself. Her sister Becca is pregnant as a result of a full moon night mishap in one of the shelters where the lycos go to, theoretically, keep them from being a danger on the streets. Becca's husband has left her. Lola is the only non-lyco in her family and yet Becca turned to her for help. The pregnancy is the fault of DORLA's shelter workers and Lola feels guilty about all of it.

Ellaway has no remorse for tearing off a hand belonging to a friend of Lola's but she is trying to confirm his alibi. Lola quickly gains a boyfriend, a lyco social worker, Paul Kelsey. She then makes a mistake that nearly cost the life of a young boy during a moon night pickup of a free lyco in a park. Not to mention that she thinks there's more to Ellaways story than he's saying and there might actually be a conspiracy among some lycos to stay out of the shelters on moon nights.

Through it all, we're learning about Lola and her life and background. There's revelations, relationships, strength, love, and dispair. This is not a book that you read and toss after reaching the last page. Lola is a person and you'll think about her and her world long after you close the book. What would you do in that world? What kind of person would you be if raise as Lola was? Not everyone can be on top and it's how those on top treat those below them as well as how the lower classes treat each other that make a world what it is. Could the world of Benighted be better? And most important of all, does this story have something to tell us about our world and its workings?

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