The Night Eaters: She Eats the Night is the first volume in writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda’s The Night Eaters Book horror graphic-novel series.
Ipo and Keon overcame numerous challenges to relocate from China to the United States of America. The Chinese couple flourished. Alas, their twin children, Billy and Milly, do not meet Ipo’s (mom’s) exacting standards.
Having exited university sans degrees, the twins now co-own and co-operate a struggling restaurant. Were the challenges of a restaurant in the era of Covid not enough, Milly — whose standards for other people are as demanding as her mother’s standards are for the twins — persists in picking fights with customers, much to her twin’s irritation.
Ipo’s attention is drawn to the ramshackle house next to Billy and Milly’s home in Queen’s Village. The house is an eyesore and the eerie dolls within it are horrifying enough to send prospective buyers fleeing in terror. The house has all the earmarks of a Bad Place. Surely a terrible fate awaits anyone foolish enough to linger inside. In other words, a perfect project for her disappointing children.
The house is alarming enough. Its history is worse. One former occupant was murdered; her husband left without one hand; he was incoherent and could not explain what had happened. Rudimentary landscaping by a very reluctant Milly and Billy1 turns up a skeleton that is humanoid but in no way human. Whatever happened the night of the murder appears to have involved forces beyond mortal ken.
Left to themselves, Milly and Billy would opt for a prudent retreat. Ipo insists on pressing forward. Horrifying revelation follows horrifying revelation. The twins begin to understand that not only did they not understand who their mother truly is, they don’t really understand what she truly is, either.
If there’s ever a Night Eaters movie, I hope Qiu Yuen is considered for the role of Ipo.
Where is Keon in all this, you ask? His role is to be the laid-back dad and doting husband, a man who never has a harsh word for his kids even as he refuses to get in Ipo’s way when she decides to take her disappointing children in hand. I am one hundred percent certain that when Milly and Billy had bad news to tell their parents, Keon was the one to whom they told it. I am also certain this would have in no way deterred Ipo’s wrath.
In Ipo and Keon’s defense, they have good reason to think their kids can survive anything they throw at them. That said, Ipo and Keon could have been much more forthcoming about certain interesting aspects of the family history than they actually were.
Readers familiar with Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s other works will be happy to know that Night Eaters delivers all the creepy suspense and body horror delivered by the pair’s Monstress cosmic-horror fantasy series (reviewed here, here, here, here, and here). The abandoned house next door looks ominous from the outside. What waits inside is much worse: devil dolls, popping eye-balls, eldritch skeletons, and ravenous demons.
What readers might not expect is how funny it all is. Ipo is nonchalant; her children are bewildered and alarmed, and yet … this is comedic cosmic horror. Unlike Monstress, which became ever gloomier as the graphic novel series progressed. I’m eager to see where Liu and Takeda take this series.
1: The twins attempted landscaping, but weren’t up to the task. An irritated Ipo picks up the shovel.