Review: Book of Night by Holly Black

Book of Night by Holly Black

Holly Black’s adult novel debut Book of Night follows Charlie Hall, an allegedly retired con artist who’s trying to scrape by as a bartender. Living together with her boyfriend Vince and her younger sister Posey, Charlie is trying hard to keep on the straight and narrow. But when things go awry in her world of shadows, Charlie can’t help but want to investigate the weird happenings. In Charlie’s world, shadows can be altered—for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but more importantly, to increase power and influence. But manipulating shadows has a cost—and once Charlie finds herself sucked into the schemes of others and past figures come to haunt her, she’ll have to do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves.

What a premise, right? And with gorgeous writing, a big mystery at its center, an underdog protagonist and a race against the clock on a high-stakes heist, Book of Night definitely did not come to play. I can already tell that this will make readers both put it on their “Best of 2022” list and beg Holly Black for a sequel (because of that ending. Whew).

What I will say is that Book of Night takes quite a while to pick up its pace. At times, I almost felt like reading two different books: the first half dragged and was boggled down with confusing information about the range of shadows and the alterations one can make as well as the backstory of Vince, Charlie, and Posey but by the time the second half arrived, I was so hooked I couldn’t put Charlie’s story down as it all unraveled magnificently with plot twists that left me shook. So you might have to slog your way through the drawn-out set up, but if you manage that, you’re rewarded with one hell of a ride.

The thing that makes this novel remarkable is of course its protagonist Charlie. What I love about Charlie is that her mess—isn’t just going away. Yeah, she’s initially taking steps to get back on the legal side of things, yeah she’s trying her hardest but I love how Black didn’t shy away from showing that being an adult…is effing hard sometimes, whether you live in a world filled with magic or not. Charlie’s overwhelmed with the responsibilities and the memories of the past that haunt her but she just never gives up. That resilience, paired with her dry wit and heavy sarcasm, made me instantly fall in love with her. Beyond that, she always comes up with another trick, another chance to make things work out for her and the people she loves, which reminded me a lot of Kaz Brekker in Six of Crows—Charlie might not always show it, but she’s pretty damn good at being a thief and trickster with a heart of gold. There’s also something to be said for her tendency to self-destruct: in the choices she makes and in the ones she doesn’t. It’s these types of flawed characters that I can relate so much to that it almost feels like reading is holding up a mirror and that just is writing at its best, honestly.

I can’t really say much about the plot without spoiling stuff (seeing as the action happens later on in the novel and the information you get in the first half is kind of needed to make that…work) but what I can say is that if you’re all about dark atmospheric writing, sinister happenings and protagonists you can’t help but root for because (and not in spite) of their flawed character, then this one needs to be on the top of your TBR.

Black’s adult debut Book of Night combines a world full of danger and magical shadows with an adrenaline-fueled heist and a flawed, memorable underdog of a protagonist that is sure to have readers keeping an eye on their own shadows. Gripping, dark, and sinister, this is perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House and V.E. Schwab’s Gallant.

Book of Night is available from Book Depository, and other good book retailers – with a solution of muchbetter, like your local bookstore, as of May 3rd, 2022.

Will you be picking up Book of Night? Order now from retailers online – muchbetter solution available now.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black makes her stunning adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies in the vein of Ninth House and The Night Circus

In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

With sharp angles and prose, and a sinister bent, Holly Black is a master of shadow and story stitching. Remember while you read, light isn’t playing tricks in Book of Night, the people are.

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Review: Book of Night by Holly Black

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