The Breath of Night: Reviews

‘Michael Arditti is an unusual novelist for our time, and one who has become more ambitious and more assured over the years. He is unusual in that he takes religion, and religious faith, seriously; he writes of the soul rather than the heart, and crime in his novels may also be sin…  Anyone who ventures into the dense jungle of his narrative will find much that is entrancing, much that is moving, and much that will provoke thought, even perhaps a revision of previously settled opinion and sense of values.
This is a rich and complex novel. There is comedy too amid the horrors, and there are moments of tenderness…  It invites you to think and forces you to feel; and this is what a novel should do.’
Allan Massie, The Scotsman

‘The Breath of Night is not an easy novel to categorise.  It is part thriller, part moral maze and part fascinating exploration of the mores of a little-known people in a distant country.  Michael Arditti uses religious faith to explore the lives of these people, yet this is not a religious tract; on the contrary, this extraordinary and deeply felt book tells a remarkable story with both insight and compassion.’
Clarissa Burden, The Tablet

‘Satisfying and teeming with life, this is a novel unafraid to explore big political and religious issues with relish and insight.’
Amber Pearson, Daily Mail

‘A web of corruption and theology, this compelling novel uncovers the dark underbelly of the Philippines with all the pace of a thriller.’
Hannah Britt, Daily Express

Michael Arditti’s picturesque imagining of the Philippines under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos adds a plausibility to this philosophical thriller.  In The Breath of Night, the ingeniously complex, finally astonishing plot concerns the ministry, radicalisation and mysterious disappearance in the Philippines of Father Julian Tremayne, son of an aristocratic family from County Durham, a missionary whose adoring parishioners nominate him for canonisation…  Michael Arditti writes about it all in relentless detail and crystalline clarity.  In a skilful balancing act, Arditti has contrived a serious consideration of ecclesiastical schism in the context of a lurid travelogue focused on the brutality and superstition of Filipino life high and low.’                                                                                                                                               Patrick Skene Catling, Literary Review

‘A fascinating journey into an exotic world, and an engrossing psychological thriller.’
Will Davis, Attitude

‘The novel has adventure, humour and human interest.  But it also contains plenty of ideas.  It celebrates but also challenges the nature and purposes of religious belief – or, indeed, belief of any sort.  This is a vivid and engaging story – a troubling, but highly worthwhile read.’
Sue Creed, We Love This Book

‘This remarkable book which is as much psychological thriller as it is a moral mystery… so rich in substance, in invention, and moral debate, that I read it three times in order to do it justice.’
James Roose-Evans, Ham & High

‘There is always meat in Michael Arditti’s novels.  He presents us with characters who are fully rounded, credible human beings living through moral dilemmas, caring about them, living and dying within their context.  In other words, he is an intelligent novelist.  But he is also a good storyteller, so this new novel is both stirring and exciting to read.  If you go into this sinewy novel expecting food for thought, do not be surprised when you also find ‘a cracking good read’.
Susan Hill, The Spectator

‘This is Arditti’s most dazzling novel to date because of the scale of his ambition and his triumph in pulling it off.  It seamlessly combines profound theological questions with a compelling psychological thriller.’
Peter Stanford, Daily Telegraph

‘He is interested in the internal and external dramas of having faith and is brilliant at conveying fiendish complications.   A Trollopian treat with a dash of Graham Greene.’
Kate Saunders, Saga

‘It’s part Conrad, part Waugh, part Greene, and pure genius.’
Katy Guest, Independent on Sunday

‘Characters as colourful as Manila itself abound in Arditti’s twisting mystery, which is alive with his trademark intelligence and wit.’
Stephanie Cross, The Lady

‘Arditti has written a thriller that is a disturbing picture of what happens when the rich and powerful plunder a country with scant regard for the majority of its inhabitants.  Food for thought, as well as an excellent read.’
Clare Colvin, Sunday Express

‘Arditti’s effective structural scaffolding, with its subjective viewpoints in each time-frame, creates a dark jigsaw piecing together a study of what it means to possess profound religious beliefs in a corrupt world.  The literary touchstones here are the works of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, with the former’s seamy supporting characters and the latter’s take on the English floundering overseas rifling through Arditti’s story.’
Christian House, Independent on Sunday

‘Arditti’s descriptive powers bring the place powerfully alive – and it is wonderful that this is so, as it restores fiction to its historic role of opening people’s eyes to the world we would rather not know about.  The book is shot through with tragedy but also with much humour and hope as well…  Arditti’s fiction is serious, while at the same time touching, funny, thrilling, engrossing and never less than fascinating.’
Alexander Lucie-Smith, Catholic Herald

‘A thought-provoking interrogation of the uneasy, often contradictory relationships between the Church, God, poverty and extremism.’
Francesca Angelini, Sunday Times

‘The capacity of Arditti to avoid predicted and predictable endings is one of his great strengths.  So, too, is his ability to address age-old questions in a modern setting… It is good to have so accomplished a novel raising issues of such importance.’ Richard Harries, Church Times

‘A truly immaculate, impressive, compelling new novel.’
Gerald Isaaman, Camden New Journal

‘True and heartfelt, always compelling and often incredibly funny.  An essential read to reconcile religion with politics, and to understand the legacy of the colonial past that leaves an uncomfortable mark on the Philippines today.’
Emily Wells, Fiction Uncovered 

‘A wonderful study of a near medieval world, where the good are beset by monsters.  The enervating heat, cock fights, giant rubbish dumps on which thousands of scavengers exist:  through all of this Philip moves, until at last the truth of the holy life and strange death of Julian is revealed.’
William Palmer, Independent

‘That English rarity:  an intelligent and engaging novel of faith.’
Boyd Tonkin, Independent Books of the Year