Benighted - Kit Whitfield Let's be honest, the urban/paranormal fantasy sub-genre is glutted at this point in time. Like all genres, UF has varying degrees or classes of writers (or books). You have books that are quick, fun reads, kinda guilty pleasures or "B" movies; such as the Kitty Norville books. You have books whose authors believe they are making some type of message, but really aren't; a "B" movie with pretensions. You have books that can rise above the "B" level with a little more something, like Dresden Files.Then you have Benighted, an entirely different kettle of fish. It is either literature or it borders on literature. Where it stands, comes down to the reader’s liking of Whitfield’s style.If you are expecting standard UF or PF fare, Benighted is not the book for you. It is nothing like Anita Blake, Women of the Otherworld, or The Hollows. It is a difficult and challenging book. It's not a light read. It is, however, a rewarding and thought provoking read.Several weeks back, I read and reviewed [b:The Summoning|2800905|The Summoning (Darkest Powers, #1)|Kelley Armstrong|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51tUlMcyolL._SL75_.jpg|2451397]and said I was tired of race being used simply in terms of romantic angst, and how females leads weren’t really different in terms of looks. This is not the case with Benighted. Whitfield’s set-up is quite simple. In a world where most of the population goes furry every month, the small minority that doesn’t is the agency that patrols the furry population when they hit their monthly. Whitfield’s main character, Lola, is a bareback (yes, I know there is a different meaning to that word) which means she is not a lune (werewolf). Because of this, she and the others like her, experience discrimination every single day. This allows Whitfield to actually look at the effects of such discrimination on people. Too often in UF we get lip service to the idea of discrimination (or racism or sexism). If you look at the popular series, however, there is no in-depth analysis of it. Anita Blake, Elena, and Kitty are all non-human and are segregated out of the human society because of what they are, yet in their books we mostly see them functioning in a society where they are not the minority. Anita has (or had) one strict human friend, Elena had one human boyfriend, who she dumped, and Kitty has her family, but the werewolves and vampires get more play. The characters who are supposedly outsiders are actually part of the in-group of the novel. In those novels, in terms of characters, strict humans are the minority, and very rarely do central characters behave as if they have been effected by an -ism; they might have to hide, but outright discrimination doesn’t really seem to occur or should it, like in Kitty Takes a Holiday, it lacks depth. Benighted, Lola is part of the minority. It effects her whole life. It effects her outlook on life. It effects her relationships.Benighted is in a basic sense a mystery. Lola wants to find a murderer. The book, however, transcends that. It transcends the basic werewolf or vampire plot. What the reader gets, and this is what makes the book an uncomfortable read, is the effect of discrimination on the minority and the majority. Whitfield asks and answers, what happens in a caste system. While the minority in the book is based on a lack of transformation, Lola could be any minority in today’s real world. On top of the theme of discrimination, Whitford examines the role of law and justice in such a society. Lola is not an angel; she is particularly unlikable. I do not even know how I feel about her. Lola is a real character and this means she is heavily flawed. What is important, and what makes the book though provoking, is that the reader is never shown which side is right, not really. Do Lola and her co-workers go too far? Do the lunes go too far? The book leaves the reader with a feeling of disquiet because of the questions about society, race, and social class that it raises. Additionally, Whitfield has really thought about how her lunes would work and what the laws of society would be in terms of applying to them, at least in furry form. She is the only writer I have seen who takes a woman’s monthly cycle into account and how it would be affected by changing. Benighted is not an easy book, and it is true that Whitfield’s prose could be tighter in places, but it is a worthy, thought provoking book.