Broken Nights (Broken Nights #1) by Matthew Davenport Book Review

Write on: Sat, 17 Feb 2018 by  in Charles' Reviews Be the first to comment! Read 2217


BROKEN NIGHTS opens with a pair of petty crooks breaking into a store in order to steal a bunch of iphones when they're confronted by a shadowy cowled figure. They jump across a pair of rooftops when the figure jumps to catch them and misses the roof before smashing into the ground a couple of stories below. Wannabe Batman, Jason Night, does not begin his career in an auspicious manner.

"Capepunk" is a genre which basically amounts to stories set in slightly more grounded (note I don't say "realistic") worlds than your typical superhuman fantasy. They're places where the Hulk liquidfies a person he punches, secret identities are easily pierced, and morality tends to be a good deal murkier. It's a genre which started with SOON I WILL BE INVINCIBLE by Lev Grossman and has since blossomed into series like CONFESSIONS OF A D-LIST SUPERVILLAIN by Jim Bernheimer, WEARING THE CAPE by Marion G. Harmon, and my own Supervillainy Saga.

Broken Nights is a novel set in the fictional Iowa city of Darden Valley, which already is different from your typical superhero setting and what would happen if you had your protagonist decide to be Batman in Back to the Future's Hill Valley or Frezno than one of the larger cities of America. It adds a sense of trepidation to the fact Jason's actions in choosing to become a costumed vigilante are kind of insane.

The best part of the novel is watching how he tries to turn himself into Batman using a combination of Amazon Prime, local martial arts classes, and the internet. The thing is, there actually IS an evil conspiracy in town with the Silicon Valley nightmare TrinCon that Jason stumbles over with all of the grace of a lumbering ox. This gives him the chance to actually become a superhero or possibly get himself and his family killed.

This strikes me very much as the kind of story which would have made a very good movie in the 80s and has the kind of earnestness which is absent from modern day superhero films. There's no Whedon-esque dialogue and Jason really believes he can pull this off even if it's probably an extremely unhealthy way of dealing with his pent-up anger. A more cynical story would show him wanting to just beat people up but this is about him wanting to make the world a better place--and often failing due to being a mere mortal.

I like the supporting cast, especially his sister Amy, and how he attracts a number of people who want to be part of his team despite how much a bad idea being the "Darden Valley Guardian" is. I also like how the main villain goes from being a perfectly rationale corporate shark to being a full-on supervillain as the genre rules make it harder and harder for her to deal with a single masked lunatic.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this novel and think anyone who wants to read a entertaining down-to-earth superhero novel will enjoy this one a great deal. The story gradually shifts from something resembling Heroes to something closer to Batman: The Animated Series and while that's a bit of a shame as I enjoyed the more grounded bits--I also enjoyed the final result too.

Available here

Last modified on Monday, 19 August 2019 11:10
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.


Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.