Crown of Thunder: Beasts Made of Night, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Crown of Thunder: Beasts Made of Night, Book 2 Book Poster Image
New intrigue in action-packed, African-influenced fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Set in a fantasy world inspired by African folklore, Crown of Thunder examines sinfulness, guilt, and the possibility of redemption.

Positive Messages

Great deeds are possible when community members work together. Sometimes, individuals will sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wracked with guilt concerning the destruction of his birthplace, Taj remains a highly formidable sin-eater -- brave, loyal, resourceful, and committed. Despite the great odds against him, he works hard to protect his family and friends, deciding to return home in the face of total devastation.

Violence

Crown of Thunder is filled with magical battles between humans and sin-beasts. Characters vomit up black "ink" that represents sin.

Sex

Two supporting female characters openly declare their love for each other.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Crown of Thunder is the second volume of the Beasts Made of Night fantasy series by Tochi Onyebuchi. It's set in a world where the sins of the ruling class can be devoured by lower-caste teen "aki," leaving the aristocrats free from feelings of guilt. Inspired by Nigerian folklore, the novel features people of color as main characters and represents a sophisticated example of fantasy world-building. Violent scenes include showdowns between Taj and a deadly array of sin-beasts. 

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What's the story?

At the start of CROWN OF THUNDER, Taj has abandoned his hometown in the wake of the destruction called down upon it by Queen Karima's deadly black magic. Wracked with guilt, he watches as innocent civilians flood a refugee camp. He and his traveling companion, Aliya, encounter a vicious new kind of sin-beast and barely escape with their lives and the knowledge that Queen Karima has not forgotten about them.

Is it any good?

There's a growing enthusiasm for fantasy with African roots, and this captivating novel of magic, religion, and politics benefits from the author's knowledge of Nigerian folklore and culture. Tochi Onyebuchi keeps the level of suspense high in Crown of Thunder, presenting new complications that up the stakes and add urgency to the plot. He deftly arranges the final confrontation between Taj and his enemies, presenting highly kinetic fight scenes. Although there's plenty left to explore in this dynamic fantasy land, this second volume ends on a welcome note of resolution, likely to leave readers satisfied but eager for more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Crown of Thunder depicts the plight of refugees. What drives people to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere? What can be done to help them?

  • How does Crown of Thunder define sin? What kinds of acts should people feel guilty about? Why would some pay to have their sins removed from their bodies?

  • What is the role of violence in Crown of Thunder? Is it easier to take in because it's mostly magical warfare? Does violence resolve conflicts or create more?

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