Cover Image: Our Share of Night

Our Share of Night

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Member Reviews

This book took a month of my life and f'd me up. Do not be daunted by its 650 pages; I was fully transported by page 5 and dying to know how this would end. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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Our Share of Night is a novel from acclaimed Argentine author Mariana Enriquez, and is apparently (per the publisher statement that comes with the novel) her first novel to be translated into American English, even as her earlier novels were well acclaimed internationally. The novel is a 600 page historical fantasy horror novel, taking place largely in Argentina and Britain from the 1960s through the 1990s, and deals heavily with the Argentine politics of the time, as the nation struggles with a dictatorship, than a struggling democracy, and political and economic crises during and thereafter. Of course these historical events are often in the background (but well present) as the novel deals largely with a father and son who are involved with a Cult dedicated to a Supernatural Darkness that consumes, marks and sacrifices in exchange for cryptic messages about immortality - a cult led by a trio of rich loaded and politically connected families with little concern for who they destroy along the way.

The result is a fascinating novel which at times feels overwritten - with excessively long paragraphs and long passages without interruption - that somehow still is enthralling, as the story takes place in six parts that jump forward and backwards in time and perspective to reveal what is happening and what has already happened. So we get large parts taking place from the perspectives of the father Juan and mother Rosario in which they reveal their actions within the cult and their connections to the supernatural but also two large parts taking place from the perspective of their son Gaspar, who is ignorant of what dark magic his parents are/were a part of and why his father is acting strange and occasionally violent, and just trying to grow up and live his own life with his three friends. There's some strong themes here of class, of family, and some horrifying moments to go along with it, although I do think the novel falters a bit in the end when it all has to come together ridiculously quickly.

TRIGGER WARNING: Child Abuse, Rape off page, Torture off page, Mass Murder, and Mental Illness. One part deals heavily with trauma and how different people experience it, etc. Nothing done gratuitously, but serious topics are of issue in this book.
--------------------------------------------Plot Summary-------------------------------------------
1981 Argentina is a country gripped in a dictatorship that maintains a terrifying grip on power. In the midst of this, a sick man Juan, and his son Gaspar, makes a trip by car through the countryside, taking care not to run into Government forces. But Juan is no ordinary man, he is the medium for the supernatural monstrous power known as the Darkness, a power which is worshipped by the secret Order known as the Cult of the Shadow. Juan not only can summon the Darkness, which consumes and marks those too close all the while whispering mad secrets to others, but can see echoes of the dead and conjure demons to provide him with answers. But his beloved wife Rosario is dead and Juan cannot see her and Juan knows this must be the work of others in the Order, such as Rosario's monstrous mother Mercedes, who wish to use Gaspar as Juan's heir....or worse. To Juan's dismay, Gaspar does indeed show signs of having inherited his powers....but Juan is resolved to under no circumstances allow the Order to get their hands on Gaspar and he will do anything - no matter how monstrous or dangerous - to keep him safe.

Four years later, in 1985, Argentina is seemingly in a better place, with a newfound democracy emerging in place of the old terrorizing Dictatorship. In this new world Gaspar grows up in Buenos Aires in a house with his father, who acts strange and sometimes cruelly, along with his three friends Pablo, Vicky, and Adela, with whom he grows up and goes to school. But the Argentina in which they are growing up still holds many dangers, and for Gaspar and his friends, those dangers are not just fallout from political crackdowns, but Juan's erratic dangerous behavior and the strange things they occasionally sense around their neighborhood of the city. Strange things that seem to be coming from a mysterious abandoned house that no one seems brave enough to enter......
I've described Our Share of Night's plot by describing the setup of two of the book's more significant parts, but the above plot summary is a bit misleading - the book is not so simple or linear in its presentation. The book is divided into six parts, although two are pretty short and are rather more like interludes than full parts, with each part taking place in a different time period and place, often involving characters mentioned in a prior part but not focused upon for various reasons (like, for example, being dead). The shift from one part to another might result in a jumping forward or back in time, and several of these parts are told in third person from multiple perspectives (while one part is told in first person by a single narrator), even if a part may have a more central character around whom things revolve. The book also - and some of this may be the formatting of my ARC but I don't think so - relies on long passages without paragraph breaks as events happen and things are experienced by their third person narrators, such that you might feel overwhelmed and exhausted reading it at times.

And yet largely, this style of writing works, as the story deals with its characters who grow and struggle with both fantasy elements and real political elements for reasons that the reader (and sometimes the characters) doesn't quite understand at first, but are slowly revealed as the book jumps back and forth in time...the book does a remarkable job bringing back moments from earlier to later such that it feels rewarding to see how things come together, even as the book never quite feels too much like a chore of a puzzle. This works even as the story's genre kind of changes from part to part - Part 1 focuses on Juan and is firmly in horror fantasy, as he deals with the cult that relies on his power and wants his son Gaspar, and revolves around Juan's knowledge of what's going on....but then our next major part, Part 3, is written largely from the perspectives of Gaspar and his three friends, all of whom are completely ignorant of the cult and its magic even as some of them have ties to it they're unaware of. That third part essentially serves as a coming of age story at times, as the quartet deals with their problems and ordinary lives - Gaspar with his confusing sometimes abusive father, Vicky with her fears, Adela with her struggles to be understood about her one arm, Pablo with his growing understanding that he's gay* in a world where that is more known but still highly discriminated against, etc. Of course the horrors behind the scenes do eventually play a part, but much of Gaspar's two major parts deal with ordinary life in a highly troubling and difficult time in Argentina, dealing with trauma, queerness, abuse, relations, and more, and these parts are written really well such that you hardly mind how long you have to wonder when the fantasy horror elements will come into play before they do. Similarly Juan's part works well, as does the spoiler protagonist of the book's fourth part whose first person perspective deals a lot with hubris and wealth amidst some absolute monsters of people (while itself being a bit of coming of age).

*Notably, the book is very queer at times - Juan is bi and has lovers of both sexes and no one of importance thinks anything about it, other characters involved with the cult are either trans or non-binary based upon descriptions, and the book deals heavily in its last act with the struggles of the gay community during AIDS in Argentina.

There's a lot of strong themes here, of both the struggles of living amidst dangerous and dark times of history and of things made clear through the fantasy elements as well, most notably themes of the monstrousness of the rich and aristocratic, such as the three families who form the backbone for the horrible cult that seeks immortality that centers large parts of the story - their connections to the dictatorship and other monsters and how they act towards family, towards those they and their allies colonize, and more are utterly evil and repulsive, which is exactly what the author is no doubt going for. And like I said above, it comes together really well, so that it's really enthralling. That said, the book kind of suffers from in my opinion a rather weak ending - the final part features the fantasy elements coming into play really late, after a long section without them, and that section is resolved insanely quickly, to the point where it feels like the payoff of the finale is not earned at all. But overall, this is a fascinating book and I'd really be interested to see what others think about it.
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Our Share of Night centers on Juan and his son Gaspar, their powers, and their relationship to a cult called The Order. It is deeply unsettling, super weird, meandering, extremely slow paced. There was a bit too much gore and casual child abuse for me personally, so I couldn't make it through to the end (I flagged at about 65%) but I think Enriquez's mind and writing are interesting and would be interested in trying some other work from them in the future, stomach-permitting.
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Our Share of Night tells the story of a wife and mother’s untimely death and a father who is desperate to protect their son from her ungodly rich and powerful family and their evil cult of shadows.
It checked all the boxes for me: disturbing, macabre, unbelievably unsettling, blurring the lines between horror/magical realism/family saga. It was intricate and dense and hard to read at times- both due to the absolute brutality of the story itself as well as the backdrop of the military dictatorship of 1970s Argentina- but by the end, every seemingly confusing, misplaced or unnecessary little detail had been expertly weaved together to complete a much larger, stunningly dark picture.
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They say that the unknown causes fear and that is what Mariana Enríquez uses in this story. Starting practically 'in medias res', it plunges the reader into some crazy characters and a sect and some rites of which we are absolutely neophytes but which we will soon learn to fear. Some horrors that emerge from the darkness and that coexist with the real horrors of an Argentina that in turn is going through its darkest moment.

Despite touching many styles, I think that paternity and father-son relationships is the one that has the most weight. How sometimes the desire to protect can lead to overprotection and cloud relationships based on secrets and silences.

Despite how much I liked this book, I must admit that it is somewhat irregular in its development and that the overwhelming force with which it starts slows down in a much more conventional middle section, to then pick up a run again. This makes me think that it could have been more rounded with a few fewer pages... but in general it is a book that stands out for the courage of the proposal, the originality and the stark way of narrating by its author. Unforgettable.
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First of all -that cover-absolutly love it - the other editions are chefs kiss as well.

This took me about 3 days to read-it was a little longer than I was expecting-but every page was well worth it.  beautiful prose-just really a lengthy read. This book was a little more shock horror than supernatural horror-while I enjoyed this very much-might not be every reader's cup of tea. 

This was my birthday gift-as it was published literally on my birthday.  I fell in love with the author's short story collection-so this book was a pre-order for me.  Honestly was surprised to receive a copy and little was jumping up and down when I saw I did.  So many many thanks!  

I have since bought a copy of this novel for my library at home. 

I want to thank Netgalley, Random House Publishing Group - Random House, Hogarth, and Mariana Enriquez for the opportunity to read and review this book!
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I was a huge fan of Mariana Enriquez's chilling short story collection Things We Lost in the Fire and was extremely glad to see that the unsettling atmosphere she conjures translated well to a feature length tale. Definitely a book that will be popular with our patrons.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for providing a review copy.

Our Share of Night isn't easy to classify with a few tags. It's horror, gothic, speculative, magic-realism, and part coming of age. It has a flavour I have experienced only with authors with roots from Mexico and further South. It's hard to explain - more I-know-it-when-I-read-it.

I do most of my reading before going to sleep which means horror is harder to fit in as it will give me nightmares. My extended reading time is not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I needed extended daytime reading times.

OSoN takes place in Argentina from 1960 through 1997 in six parts - as I begin writing, I find myself thinking of these as movements. The timeline begins in the 1980s, goes back to 1960, into the nineties then back to the eighties for the final movement through to 1997. The political backdrop of Argentina is present throughout and I'm sure I have missed sublteties related to it. The first movement is from Juan's POV, and we see how his life has been co-opted by a cult because he is a pathway to their god. He is not well - has never truly been well - and wants to protect his son Gaspar. The second movement is almost an interstitial from a different POV giving some background to the cult/religion. The third movement is a formative time in Gaspar's life. The fourth movement goes back in time and gives an antagonist perspective. The fifth movement is another interstitial providing both another perspective and new information. The sixth movement brings everything together and is mainly told from Gaspar's POV. The ending isn't an ending so much as a good place to stop.

This is an excellent novel, just not the type that falls into my favourites. Gothic horror is too creepy for me to love it.

Queer representation throughout.
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This book wasn't for me and I ended up putting it down for now. Nothing against the book as I can see why others might like it but for me it kind of dragged.
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If you felt that Enriquez's story collections were too short and you want more of what she has to offer, she is here with 600 pages of it and does not disappoint. Like her stories, there is a steady beating of a rhythm building up to a climax and you are not disappointed when you get there. The usual culprits; witches, monsters, cults, remain a constant throughout the story.
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This is one of those books that I feel like I will need to read again to really get what I should get out of it. The writing is absolutely beautiful and evocative, and it feels like it transports you to another world. But I wasn't always clear on what was going on in the action of the story.
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Enriquez's writing is not for the faint of heart. This is a massive 608 page immersive dark horror that is also a love letter to the bonds between a parent and a child.

The main character is grieving the loss of his wife. As he tries to overcome the literal Darkness that possesses him, he also is in a desperate fight to save his son.

Atmospheric, creepy, emotional, and just a damn good read!
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emotionally knotty and with a propulsive plot; creepy at turns but also very thoughtful. great read and an excellent intellectual take on gothic horror
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One of the best horror novels this year! The authors writing and the translation of it was great and really added to the story.
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This is a must read author for me. I'm predicting that it will make the International Booker Longlist this year as well. That isn't much of a stretch since her other books have made that list in the past. This seems to be her first full novel, previous books having been (amazing) short story collections.

In this book, set in Argentina, a man is fleeing his wife's relatives after her death. He is entangled in their occult Order that is searching for eternal life or immortality. He is not concerned for his own life exactly, but hopes to save his son from what has become his own fate. There is a lot going on, and a lot of characters, so I am definitely not going to get into details about it. This would quickly become the longest review ever.

This book is epic, long, slow-paced, and IMO worth every moment.
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This book was soooo long. I'm glad it's over. I was really looking forward to reading it but it just got boring and Juan was horrible to Gaspar, which was also not fun to read. I don't mind terrible or unlikable characters but I just really didn't care what happened to Juan at all.
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It is difficult to put into words what the doorstop known as Our Share of Night actually is.

It is overlong, sure. But not necessarily in a negative way. Enriquez has a story to tell and it is sprawling and confusing and the pacing is fits and starts but all of this is in its nature.

It captivated me, but did not resonate with me. It unnerved me, aggravated me, enraptured me, and bored me. It did everything a book is supposed to do but still had me impatient for the finish line. Now that I am there, it will go back on the shelf, beckoning for a reread, in the hopes to win me over.
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Content warning: AID epidemic, child abuse, human sacrifice, murder, human trafficking, gaslighting, mental illness, explicit sexual content, body horror, blood, dead parent (the mother), dictatorship, mentions of political uprising, nonconsensual medical experimentation, suicidal ideation, knives, cutting, there is a dog and terrible things happen to the dog

At its core, this book is a horror. It’s got cults, it’s got something akin to a vampire that fuels the world’s most rich and powerful at the expense of local children, and there’s a heart-wrenching exploration of the ways parental protection can actually cause more harm than good. Gaspar and his father, Juan, are on the run from their family and the terrifying legacy they weave. Upsetting in its horror, heart-wrenching in the depiction of parents trying their best but failing miserably, and the tension between moving on and finding normalcy.

A great cult book, a great family saga, with mysteries and supernatural treats galore.

Even though this book is about a cult that worships the literal Darkness, family is the scariest thing within these pages along with the actions and crimes committed in the pursuit of literal immortality. Protagonist Juan is a medium who can commune with the Darkness, the Order’s literal golden boy. But he’s an outsider, adopted by one of the founders for abilities, which got passed onto his son. Communing with the Darkness leaves Juan with wounds both physical and emotional, and that’s on top of his congenital heart disease. The light in the void of this otherwise bleak tale is his love for Gaspar, his son, which frequently comes at odds with his son’s desire to be close to his father and other family. Enríquez deftly guides the reader through his decision-making,

Male sexuality plays a large role in the story, and it’s centered around Juan. He is bisexual and is shown to be in love with Gaspar’s mother while also having several committed male lovers in addition to the sex acts involved with summoning the literal darkness. But it’s not a one-off as part of that character’s depiction. Pablo, one of Gaspar’s friends, is also exploring his sexuality (not with Juan though Juan’s relationships certainly are part of it) which leads into their young adulthood amidst the AIDS crisis. With Gaspar’s hazy trauma and memories, the way the pain among those relationships unaffected by the Order are also framed by less literal pursuits of immortality. The contrast is so stark to the violence committed by Juan’s extended family, but it’s brutal in the way that he cannot protect his son from everything.

The pacing of this novel is deliberate, placing the reader in something familiar, like a road trip or moving to a new town, before the darkness both as a character and as an atmosphere starts creeping in. Things that feel safe get tinged in danger. Friendships become tenuous and secrets get in the way of anything resembling care and security. It’s heart-wrenching and horrifying on several layers.

Absolutely one of my favorite books this year, given its complexity and commitment to showing all aspects of family and the sacrifices both literal and metaphorical when it comes to protecting loved ones.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for allowing me to read this ARC!

Content Warning: misogyny, violence, death, rape, racism (including slurs), child abuse, homophobia (including slurs), torture, usage of slurs against the disabled.

Juan is determined to protect his son. A powerful medium, Juan has been exploited and abused by the Order for years, beginning in his childhood, and after marrying and having a child with Rosario -- the daughter of the most powerful family of the Order -- he knows that they will do anything to get their hands on Gaspar, who they plan on using for their own ends. Fleeing across the country after Rosario's untimely death, father and son encounter obstacle after obstacle, from the brutal tactics of Argentina's military dictatorship to Juan's own dark side, a side that often comes out when is around Gaspar. As Gaspar grows older, it becomes clear that his inheritance is inextricably tied to cruelty, magic, and ultimately, death.

Following many characters and a jumping timeline, Our Share of Night is an epic that does its best to break every storytelling convention you can think of. Written by Mariana Enriquez, an Argentine journalist and author who made it onto the shortlist for the International Booker Prize, this novel is, at its heart, an occult version of the bildungsroman. What I noticed first upon picking this up was her immense ability in creating something that sinks its claws into you. From the very first page, there's intrigue, and also a sense of impending doom, an element that pervades the story from start to finish. We begin in the head of Juan Peterson, a father who is prepared to do anything to save his son from the selfsame cult that has ruined his life. He's mourning the death of his wife, Rosario, the daughter of the wealthy Reyes Bradford family, who also happen to be the foremost leaders of the cult he's so determined to escape. His son, Gaspar, is perhaps a touch too clever for such a young child, mirroring both his rebellious father and mother in many ways.

When Juan and Gaspar are making their way across the country, the military dictatorship -- coming to power during the infamous coup where Isabel Perón was overthrown -- is in full swing. Much of this book is political, and Enriquez deals with those issues both in the form of veiled allegories and in upfront, direct lines that speak of the forced disappearances taking place, of the torture, and the so-called Dirty War tearing the country apart. Enriquez's style of speech and writing is frank, but with characteristic flair and beauty; she never shies away from the ugly, and it makes her stories that much more compelling. Her characters, too, are just as gripping, although I found Gaspar to be strangely shallow in comparison to Juan, Rosario, and the others around him. Juan, in particular, is complex, a multilayered creature that Enriquez isn't afraid of making unlikable. Somehow, against all odds, Juan is sympathetic, a testament to Enriquez's ability to create someone as flawed and interesting as a real person.

For me, this book left me with many questions, and I think that the ending, in all its strange ambiguity, was fitting. This isn't a novel you can pick up and read lightly, and at six-hundred plus pages, it's not exactly something you can breeze through. There's a weight to it, and the sometimes slow pace actually feels beneficial to what Enriquez is trying to impart. I do have a few issues with it, though. Perhaps it's simply meant to be accurate to the time period, but I really didn't like the casual use of racism and racist terms by some of the characters (including those we are supposed to like). It's peppered throughout the book a few times, and while I understand the intent of using it in a character like Mercedes, from a wealthy European family, it was strange to see the weird passage about Gaspar coloring the map and the Chinese. It was pointless, and soured my liking of the book a little. I'd be interested to see these parts in their original Spanish. My other problem is that occasionally, the storyline was just plain confusing. There's a lot of characters, a lot of timelines, a lot of places and people and problems, and every once in a while it became overwhelming.

With that being said, I loved everything else about this novel. It's gritty, fascinating, beautiful, and a wonderfully unique interpretation of cults and magic, made even better by its cultural and political aspects. In many ways, it reminds me of horror books from the '60s and '70s, and in my opinion, there's really no better comparison.
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This book! Wow. This may be the best horror novel I've ever read. Although, this is very much a genre bending book. It has all the things one could want in an engrossing read, but it is, in fact, quite scary. I often can't read books so unrooted in reality like this one, but Enriquez pulls it off masterfully. If you are in for a scare, pick this up immediately.
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