What Feasts at Night

I’m a little surprised to see a new Alex Easton story. The first one seemed complete in itself. But novella series have been very successful so I’m not too surprised that this is happening.

As you may remember, What Moves the Dead was neat little re-working of “The Fall of the House of Usher”, with added homicidal mushrooms. It co-starred Miss Eugenia Potter, a thinly disguised version of Beatrix of the same surname, who was actually an expert on mushrooms. That book also provided us with an introduction to Alex’s status as a Sworn Soldier; that is, someone assigned female at birth who has taken up a male identity on becoming a soldier. That was a lot to fit into one novella.

What Feasts at Night has difficultly developing that theme. Miss Potter once again makes an appearance, but there are few mushrooms to be examined and none of them are homicidal. Instead she is there as an excuse for being out in the wilds of Gallacia, and because of her ongoing and rather cute relationship with Alex’s batman, Angus.

The Ushers, of course, have no role in the new story.

As for Alex, we hear rather more about the horrors of war than the horrors of gender transition. Everyone seems perfectly happy to accept Alex as a man. Indeed, the Widow Botezatu, the peasant woman that Alex hires as a housekeeper for his hunting lodge, treats him with exactly the same amount of disdain that she would have for an assigned-male member of the minor nobility who has taken up soldiery. The only person who expects Alex to be treated in any other way is Alex because, like any other trans person, he can’t forget who he is. That’s a nice touch that I appreciated.

So what is T Kingfisher planning for what will presumably be an ongoing series of Alex Easton novellas? Well, they will probably be neat little horror stories based on European folklore. Having come from a Ruritanian country allows Kingfisher to borrow from many different European countries, which I am sure will be useful as the series develops.

That may be the plan. But I’d like to suggest another one. Alex is clearly a man of the world. He has sufficient means to travel, and he clearly has done. It would be interesting, I think, to see him and Angus in environments other than the dark woods of their native country. Alex is certainly fond of Paris:

Paris, when we left, had been in full glory. Much is made of springtime there, but for my money, a warm autumn is just as spectacular, and you don’t trip over nearly as many poets.

Ouch! That was sharply observed. Alex has clearly also been to Finland as he knows the Finns well.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Finns. Some claim they’re unfriendly, but every one that I’ve met has been quite pleasant, if reserved. They have the quiet confidence of a people who know that, at any moment, they could strap on skis, go into the woods, and take out an entire squad of enemy soldiers before anyone knows they are there.

Yeah, that’s Finns alright. For some strange reason, Alex isn’t much taken with salmiakki. Clearly no one has persuaded him to try terva yet.

Anyway, my point is that taking Alex out of the woods would give plenty of opportunity for more observations of this type. It may also bring Alex’s trans status more to the fore. Because the more civilized people thing they are, the more daft social mores they tend to come up with.

book cover
Title: What Feasts at Night
By: T Kingfisher
Publisher: Titan
Purchase links:
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Bookshop.org UK
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