Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis - Book review

Write on: Mon, 14 Dec 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 1941

I've heard good things about Tregillis' works and their historical-fantasy settings and vibes, and given that this book is a standalone (often my preference) and a noir detective to boot I was drawn.

What to Expect

Read the blurb, and then notch it up several degrees... sideways. Tregillis goes for high-intensity literary devices, where the prose is as important as the story and one has to invest in order to savour and enjoy the novel. Even past that, the plot, the world-building, and the view-points are complex and hard to follow at times. Tregillis mixes quantum physics with religious metaphysics, while upending both. He uses noir tropes heavily (with an in-story reason) including a first-person POV, but shifts and alternates with a different, 3rd-person POV that's quite different. The world building varies from a near-future, slightly eco-dystopian environment to a metaphysical concept salad.

The best way to describe the mind-bending experience of reading this book, is imagine if Thomas Aquinas and Erwin Schrödinger had a love-child who did too much LSD in the 60's and thought himself a hard-boiled character out of Raymond Chandler's 1940's mysteries.

What I liked

I did enjoy the noir tropes and the way Tregillis has an in-story explanation for them. The advanced prose and literary devices (which add layers of complexity beyond the story) are a tour de force of virtuosity, but mean that one has to constantly read the novel at various levels to get the full experience.

What to be aware of

The prose is very ornate, which is obvious from the first page. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it's not a book to tear through quickly. Sometimes the constant mixing of sensory input and quantum-metaphysical ideas can get a bit much, though.

As always with books that mix real physics with religious metaphysics there are... difficulties. While Tregillis' upending of tropes is excellent and refreshing, there are certain unanswered questions.

Felix's Review

Felix found the time Bayliss spends in the metaphysical realm interesting, comparable to his own numina  (the divine spirits). He says it certainly explains why us mortals need to eat psylocibin (funny mushrooms) to view it. He'd just recommend not writing your memoirs while under the influence, as readers tend to get confused easily.


It's a very interesting work, but not an easy read. If you're in the mood to read something highly literary, something for the aesthetics of storytelling as much as for the speculative story, give this a try.

Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He's the protagonist of the Toags, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.


Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr