#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.
This was one of my most anticipated reads this year, so receiving an ARC felt like winning the lottery.
Morally gray characters are among my favorites, and there’s certainly no shortage of them here. Lucipurr the cat (adore the name) may be the only innocent. Charlie’s life hasn’t been an easy one, but a good portion of it can be blamed on her bad choices. She starts out with good intentions, but usually gets sidetracked along the way. To her credit, she owns those decisions and stands by them. I wasn’t sure how I felt about her at first. Some of her actions are maddening, but she’s also clever, street smart, loyal to her sister, and I soon found myself rooting for her. At her core she has a good heart.
This is a dark, gritty world filled with murder, magic, and bloody battles for power. I struggled at times to understand all the rules, but they became clearer along the way. I predicted a couple of the twists, but was surprised over others. Some reviewers have mentioned the slow pace at the beginning, and I agree it took a few chapters for the story to find its stride, but before long it was unputdownable. I’m not sure if this is a planned series, but the ending leaves an opening.
I’d recommend this book to fantasy and horror fans looking for a gratifying blend of the genres. You’ll never look at your shadow – or those of others – in the same way again.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
An urban legend rumored to be responsible.
And one group of teens determined to save their city at any cost.
For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.
Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York’s past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.
Comp titles of Stranger Things and Get Out immediately piqued my interest, and that fierce cover sealed the deal.
Several teens have gone missing over the past several months, and the disappearances seem to be tied to the Echo Game. It comes with an odd set of rules (flipping a coin to decide which direction to go, never turn back, start in the wee hours of the morning), and upon entering the game, players are transported to a traumatic event that occured in their area. For these characters it was during the 70s when the Bronx was burning and over 80% of housing was lost to fires, much of it caused by slumlords who wanted to collect insurance money.
You’d be crazy to want to play, right? But what if entering the game might be the only way to save your family and friends? For Raquel and Charlize, there’s no choice – they have to play. The actions starts immediately, and the first pages pulled me right into the story. I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening, but there’s no way you could have pried the Kindle from my hands. Pride in their community and friendships between the characters are strong points – especially between Raquel and Aaron. Even when the odds weren’t in their favor, they had each other’s backs. But with so much depending on them, the characters surprised me a few times with their careless choices, and intense, dangerous moments are interrupted with sudden relationship talk that I felt interrupted the flow of the story.
Expect vivid imagery inside the game. Some of the gory descriptions might not be for everyone, but I thought they added to the horror of what the characters experience and the obstacles they face to survive.
With heart-stopping scenes (I gasped out loud a couple times!), an alluring, dangerous concept, plenty of life-threatening situations, and relatable characters, horror/thriller fans will want to add this to their TBRs. I’m excited to see what this author does next.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.