Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Holly Black makes her adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies.
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 doppelgängers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.
Book of Night has an intriguing premise, but falls flat in its execution. The story itself is confusing, the magic system is poorly explained, and there are too many characters with little to no information.
Book of Night follows Charlie as she’s pulled into the magical world rife with thievery and murder. Despite quite a few reviews I’ve seen, I enjoyed Charlie as a character. She’s street smart, confident, and sympathetic despite her tendency to make poor choices. Her tendency to make poor choices stems from her childhood and, in my opinion, makes sense considering all the flashbacks readers get regarding her childhood.
Black’s magic system is interesting, but poorly explained. I felt lost more often than not, especially when the story progressed and the intricacies of the magic became central to the plot. There were many lost opportunities to explain the magic system further through Charlie, however Black chose not to use this route.
There are a lot of characters in Book of Night, which isn’t unusual in a fantasy novel; however, a lot of these characters are barely developed but are integral to the plot and magic system. There were several instances where characters were referred to in passing then brought up again later in the book. I had no idea who these characters were and felt lost until a few pages later where something jogged my memory.
I’m not saying that every novel should have graphic sex scenes, but when an author’s YA work has more sexual tension and chemistry than their adult work there may be an issue with the writing of that relationship.
Also, why is the font size SO SMALL?!
Overall, Book of Night was disappointing because of its confusing plot and poorly explained magic system.
Have you read Book of Night? What did you think?