Source: Pre-ordered via Amazon
Pub. Date: May 3, 2022
Why did I choose to read this book?
Holly Black is welcome in my house anytime. Along with Kiersten White and Tara Sim, this is her first foray into the adult realm and I was ready. She can have my money.
What is this book about?
In a world where the shadows of people can be magic, Charlie finds herself fighting her past as a con artist and thief while trying to build a future with her boyfriend Vince and getting her younger sister to go to college instead of reading tarot cards and reddit threads about how to make your regular shadow magical all night long. When a big score crosses her path with the chance for revenge against one of the most dangerous men in the city that wronged her as a child, Charlie finds herself wrapped up in something that may be too big for her britches.
What is notable about the story?
This is the classic “She’s so good at being bad, and so bad at being good” type story. You’ll wince while watching Charlie try to make a life as close to the straight and narrow as she can manage while working as a bartender in a bar run by a dominatrix with a mob boss working out of the basement. Trying to be good gets her in more trouble than just being bad would, and it’s a relief when she finally just accepts herself for who she is.
I surprised myself by being drawn in by the cliffhanger ending. Black hides a love story behind a self-discovery story and that usually makes me SO cranky (not everything needs a love story!!! people can just be friends!!!) but it’s closely bound with the worldbuilding Black sets up beautifully. It’s not just about the love story but about discovering a solution rooted in the world of shadow magic. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it will definitely make you beg for the next book. Holly Black is a master of a dramatic and gripping ending and she hasn’t let me down yet.
Was anything not so great?
This is the third or fourth adult debut by a YA fantasy author that I’ve read this year and while this book comes the absolute closest to being adult, it still feels like the author pulling their punches. It’s as though Black, along with her YA counterparts, is afraid that her usual audience will make the mistake of assuming that this book is as safe her her previous ones, so she doesn’t want to go too hard and risk scaring younger readers off. Again, this one comes close with people’s bodies turned inside out or cracked open at the ribcage and left in an alley, but I wouldn’t hesitate to hand this to a junior or senior in high school – it’s still tame enough for YA.
What’s the verdict?
Four stars on Goodreads for the pulled punches, but this was a very excellent first toe into the waters of adult books from Holly Black. If you enjoyed her YA Folk of the Air books, definitely make room on your TBR list for Book of Night so you can get lost in the shadows of this gritty, dangerous, magical new world she’s created. As always with Black, you will not be disappointed.
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