BROTHER NIGHT by Victor Kelleher


Age Range: 12 & up
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 A simplistic fantasy-adventure about mismatched twins whose appearance belies their relationship to good and evil. Rabon, foster son of village gatekeeper Dorf, discovers that reviled witch-woman Jenna is really his mother and that she has kept his gigantic, misshapen twin (Lal) alive in a nearby swamp since birth. After Rabon's supposed father--the handsome but evil Sun-Lord Solmak--kills Dorf and tries to kill him as well, Rabon and Lal set out on a quest that eventually leads them to the tideswept Forbidden City, inhabited by Solmak's dreaded giant brother, Luan. Meanwhile, the reader knows--long before the persistently aggressive Rabon does--that gentle Lal and Luan, despite their appearance and reputation, embody all that is good, while it is Solmak who is evil incarnate. Unlike Jacques in his books about Redwall, Kelleher makes it clear that violence, even in a worthy cause, harms its perpetrator. Other themes and the events on which they are based here are more confusing: Rabon never kills directly, but in the end his deliberate action causes several deaths from which he emerges unscathed, while his drive for vengeance--unmitigated by his growing affection for Luan and Lal--continues unabated until his abrupt reversal after Solmak's death. Moreover, the allegorical world--while vivid--seems philosophically muddled: e.g., why is peaceable Luan surrounded by vicious crocodiles? An interesting effort, but lacking the coherence and moral power of the author's Baily's Bones (1989). (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-8027-8100-4
Page count: 179pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1991


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