Nightrunners of Bengal by John Masters Review

Plot: The novel is set at the time of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The central character, Captain Rodney Savage, is an officer in a Bengal Native Infantry regiment, stationed in the fictional city of Bhowani. He is restless with garrison life, but is devoted to his regiment and its sepoys (Indian soldiers).

In spite of his empathy with the sepoys, Savage does not realise that fear and resentment are driving them to intrigue with local rulers and other conspirators against the rule of the British East India Company. The complacent life of the British community in Bengal is shattered by the Rebellion.

Synopsis: I’m not necessarily gonna go into book spoilers, but more history spoilers about the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857.

It is clear I’ve past into adulthood…It’s incredibly scary.

Nightrunners is not the most adult book I’ve ever read nor do I hold it up as the mark that all readers should pass to not be considered children. However it is the first book, in a long time, I’ve actually enjoyed reading. Its immersive world is the true protagonist of the story and its main focus is the emotional turmoil of the main character, rather than the main character’s missions or love life, something which I’ve found tiring in YA novels in recent months. It is a breath of fresh air to read something from such a indepth character narrative: Englishmen describing their foreign home and how dark it can become in war, and how much they can be affected with it.

While the first half of the book is gripping and wonderfully put together to create many wholesome, imperfect but sympathetic characters, it is the change from white women in petticoats playing crochet to sepoys murdering babies in their cribs, that grips you into the true message of the story, almost being convinced with the main character that these people who are trying to reclaim their homeland are monsters before remembering the reality of the situation and its bigger picture.

The main character is also brilliantly created. He’s not a saviour but a broken man in a country that wants him dead and he is not about to save the day, he can barely save himself and those he loves. He’s a complex character that changes throughout the story’s events.

So perhaps after reading this I should decidedly take a break from reading YA novels, just for a bit…until being an adult becomes too terrifying.

All in all I loved this book from start to finish.

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