You had me at Holly Black. I am a huge fan of Holly’s Cruel Prince series so I was eager to read her adult debut novel.
Title: Book of Night
Author: Holly Black
Series: Standalone (?)
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Unfortunately this one did not work for me. If this wasn’t Holly Black, I very likely would have DNF-ed this one. It took me a while to get into The Cruel Prince so I gave this book the benefit of the doubt and pushed on, but never once did this story fully captivate me and truthfully, the way it jumped around confused me.
Charlie Hall is a thief and con artist, and at 28-years-old, she’s been conning people for more than half her life. In this world, shadows can be altered and used for power. The shadow aspect gave me almost Peter Pan vibes, where his shadow runs away and has to be sew back on – in this world, you can steal shadows, or even lose your shadow. You can survive without one, but its better to have a shadow.
That’s where I started getting confused. The world building in Book of Night is lacking for me. I went along with the story thinking we’d learn more over time but I never felt like I fully understood this whole shadow concept. Sure, I can go along with it, but don’t ask me to explain it to you now, I can’t.
Charlie herself is an okay character, she isn’t ~the chosen one~, she isn’t ~not like other girls~, she has a crappy job as a bartender, her younger sister (who is 25) is trying to make her shadow come alive and be special, and Charlie’s boyfriend Vince cleans the things people don’t want to clean at a local motel (think: dead bodies). These characters were all fine but I never felt truly connected or like I cared for any of them.
We were thrown a lot of side characters that it was difficult to keep the all straight or see how they were actually important in the storyline.
This story is compared to Ninth House and The Night Circus and I definitely felt the Ninth House vibes – which is unfortunate, as I did not like that book either. It felt very similar to Ninth House.
This is technically an adult novel, but the only adult concepts in here were death, blood, and gore. There is no sex and there is minimal foul language. The characters are older, but that’s about it.
Book of Night is marketed as a standalone, but its very open ended and I strongly suspect there will be a sequel, as nothing is really solved in this story and it only opens a bigger storyline. While I’m not surprised, I wish I went into this one knowing it wouldn’t be a clean ending.
The audio narration was fine, I have no complaints about it. I was confused at times since there are times we’re in the present and times we’re in the past, and in the audio, that is unclear – but thats no fault of the audio!
I’m giving this 2.5 stars and rounding up to 3 stars on Goodreads. This book was fine, I finished it, but I plan to sell all the special editions I bought because I don’t see myself reading this again, sadly. If you were a fan of Ninth House, you’ll love this! If you’re looking for dark academia, look no further. If you’re expecting typical Holly Black like The Cruel Prince – you will be disappointed. There are no fae here, and no romance.