Review: Book of Night by Holly Black

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆.5
Title: Book of Night
Author: Holly Black
Series: Book of Night #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Audience: Adult
Format: Hardcover
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Source: Personal collection
Content Warnings: blood, gore, murder, violence, drug use, incest

SYNOPSIS

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.

Holly Black makes her adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies.

MY THOUGHTS

This will probably end up being one of my most disappointing books of the year. I was so excited for Holly Black to write a dark and gritty adult fantasy about shadow magic and thieves, but this book fell flat for me.

There was simultaneously too much and too little world building. A lot of info dumping at the beginning filled in readers about the details of shadow magic and how the alternate history of this world differs from our own, but I didn’t absorb it and would have preferred a more gradual presentation this background info. The flashback scenes didn’t always serve much of a purpose and needlessly slowed the plot. This seems like such an interesting world to explore, but the story was boring.

And let’s talk about Charlie. Ugh. I don’t expect protagonists in books to be perfect people, but she was SO unlikeable. There was not much about the choices she made and the way she interacted with others to make me want to root for her. And when she gets the opportunity to develop her own magic, she completely ignores it.

Charlie’s relationship with Vince was also extremely underdeveloped. At the beginning it seemed like she was only with him for convenience, but once he was gone they were suddenly in love and she would do anything for him. I know Holly Black can write more convincing romance than that. Vince was actually the best character in the book, and I would’ve loved more of his POV and less of Charlie’s.

I did really like the final heist in the book. We finally got to see how clever and skilled a thief Charlie actually is. It was exciting and action-packed and almost turned the book around for me, and I even liked the ending… until the final page twist introduced a trope I don’t like. It made me really angry, especially since at that point I wasn’t sure if this book was a standalone or the first in a series. Now that I know this book is part of a duology, I do plan to read book 2, but I’m not terribly excited for it.

Author: Caroline | Carolibrary

Hello! I’m Caroline! I am a teacher, a book lover, and a nerd. My passions include reading, writing, bookstagram, barre & yoga, baking, binging TV shows, and Star Wars. I love stories in all formats because they can transport you to a different world while helping you understand the world around you. I have always found books to be a particularly magical source of imagination.

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