Broken Nights: Strange Worlds (Broken Nights #2) by Matthew Davenport Book Review

Write on: Sun, 08 Apr 2018 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 3460


Superhero fiction is a niche genre in a niche genre. Superheroes thrive in comic books, video games, and movies but aren't so very popular in prose fiction. Perhaps because it's such a visual medium but I think it's more there's just never been an iconic example of the genre. Despite this, there's some truly great examples of superhero fiction which I've been proud to review. Things like Wearing the Cape, Origins of a D-List Supervillain, Soon I Will Be Invincible, and Villains Rule.

Broken Nights is one of those series. Is it Citizen Kane? No, but it's a great book which has created its own superhero universe and is slowly building it up to be something huge. In the previous book, we had Jason Night try to become Darden Valley's answer to Batman only to accidentally stumble onto a plan to take over the world. Succeeding at extreme cost, he's only now just recovered six months later--only to find out he's unwittingly inspired an endless stream of superpowered copycats.

In this case, the Guardian is forced to confront the fact magic is real and has always been so--its users just prefer to hide its reality. Teamed up with a government operative named Coven, she and the Guardian get along like water and oil. Yet, they make a fun team to follow around and I enjoyed seeing her perspective on his previously rationale worldview (for a man who goes around dressed as a superhero). 

I really enjoyed the conflict between Jason Night and the A.I. copy of his sister Amy. As far as Jason is concerned, his sister is dead and he's partially at fault. But as far as A.I. Amy is concerned, she's still Jason's sister and trying her best to help him but her very presence is a constant reminder of his failure to protect those closet to him. It's wonderful superhero melodrama and the kind of story which Spiderman often had to deal with. There's also the fact the police are pretty sure he's a lunatic and want to arrest him for very good reasons--right up until actual superpowered villains show up and suddenly he's someone else's problem.

The Guardian is a great character because Jason Night is a straight-up hero but he's living in "our" world and slowly discovering it's a comic book world (and always has been). The dissonance between those two realities is something that makes a lot of the book's more interesting themes. What would you do if you found yourself in a world where magic is real or the government really was working on super-soldier projects? You'd maybe freak out a little, wouldn't you? Jason isn't quite the everyman he was in the previous volume, having stolen a small fortune to support his "hobby", but I still find him a great viewpoint character for the medium.

Part of what I enjoyed about the book is when the Guardian finally fights a superhuman foe for the first time, he gets his ass kicked and finds out that, no, he's not going to be able to just "Rocky" his way up and beat the guy on a rematch. No, it turns out that some opponents really are just way out of a character's league and they have to fight it with other people or figure out a way to not fight it at all. It's a nice change of pace from the way comic books usually go.

Does the book have any flaws? I think it's moving a little too quickly into a world similar to comic books. I think the story would have benefited for a few more moments of, "Wow, that's what would happen in reality" like the previous book opening with Jason jumping across rooftops and ending up falling on his ass but I understand why the authors are trying to show him developing into a badass. I also would have been interested in more Coven/Guardian scenes because I really liked those two characters' chemistry. The book is also a little on the short side. Still, I had a lot of fun with this book and I hope they continue the series.

In conclusion, if you're interested in superhero fiction then you'll probably really enjoy the Broken Nights series. It's exactly the sort of story which a good comic book would have been made out of. This is more an afternoon's read versus something you really have to devote your mind to but that's increasingly the kind of book which I have time to enjoy.

Available here

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:25
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.