Off the Shelf: Daughter of Night

Daughter of Night: A Tale of Three WorldsDaughter of Night: A Tale of Three Worlds by Lydia Obukhova

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 instead of 4. Obukhova starts with a retelling of the Adam and Lilith myth and moves into old-fashioned sci-fi with explorers from another planet and their journey through the stars. Lilith is part of a nomadic tribe and abandons it with her cousin Odam when they realize their attraction to one another is forbidden. They live together as man & wife in the wilderness, but their idyllic love is built on a cracked foundation. Lilith is curious & craves new experiences while Odam clings to the tribe’s old ways in order to survive. While exploring by herself one day, Lilith witnesses beings land on their planet & befriends them. She grows close to one particular being she calls the Nameless One, a male who is introspective, thoughtful & as curious as Lilith. As the Nameless One recounts his previous journeys, readers learn about the doubts that have accumulated in his mind about his mission & his place in his native society. Both the Nameless One & Lilith struggle to understand what their relationship is developing into.

Daughter of Night is not a long book, but it is heavy with ideas. Obukhova uses her story to celebrate the cycles of life & death as well as the power of community and legacy. Obukhova is essentially hopeful, crafting a searching narrative that believes a society can achieve much despite its shortcomings, as long as it is infused with new & inspiring perspectives. Night is very much an atmospheric novel more interested in ideas than a plot, sometimes to its detriment. I would recommend it to those who enjoy movies like Werner Herzog’s Wild Blue Yonder, are obsessed with the Lilith myth or curious about sci-fi utopias.

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