Apr 26, 2022

ARC Review--Book of Night by Holly Black


#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.


I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review. 

Holly Black’s adult debut, Book of Magic is a story filled with magical realism and a twisted plot involving murder and theft of items of magical power. In a world where power is everything and shadows are more than they seem, this is a story that will have you turning the pages long into the night.

In some respect, you could also call this book an Urban Fantasy but with more mystery than usual. The setting is urban and very modern though it did take a bit of reading to fully get an idea of this new world order. In a world where “shadow” magic is trending, everyone wants the latest perk added to their shadow.

Charlie is a reformed (mostly) thief bar-tending now as she tries to help her sister get through college. She lives with her boyfriend, Vince and sister and life is normal for the most part until an old high school acquaintance asks for Charlie’s help in wondering what her boyfriend is up to. Charlie has left her conning days behind her but when the payment is a favor that can help her sister’s college tuition out, she has to at least try.

What Charlie gets herself mixed up in is something far bigger than she could’ve ever imagined. A very powerful book has gone missing, Charlie suspects the guy she’s watching has it but naturally things aren’t going to be that easy. The most powerful man in the city, Lionel Salt is demanding the return of this missing book in just a few days time, if she doesn’t get it to him by then, we’ll, things won’t be good for her.

I think one of my struggles with this book started with entering a “new world” and having no idea how things were run. I mean we got some glimpses at what this “shadow magic” is like but it was still rather confusing to see how it applied to the world Charlie lives in. Is it a bad power or good? Usually it depends on the user but I still struggled to grasp why it was such a “thing.”

If that wasn't enough we had several chapters of flashbacks. I’m all for a well-timed flashback that contributes to the story or explains a recent happening. Most times these just felt like flashbacks for flashbacks sake. I mean most of these could’ve been summed up in a line or two of Charlie’s thoughts. 

The mystery element was well-played out though. I suspected a thing or two but was still taken by surprise by the outcomes. As far as romance goes there was a few moments of heat between Charlie and Vince but nothing over the top. Vince actually goes MIA for half the book or so, which is where some mystery element comes in. 

At first I wasn’t entirely sure whether this was a standalone or series and based on the book’s ending, series seems the likely bet! Despite a few hang-ups I  had, I would easily consider continuing the series. Most likely I’d wait for a finished copy this time around as I wonder if some of my confusion was only due to the ARC formatting. 

Book of Night is quite the engaging mystery read with many twists and turns. Charlie’s ticking time clock only adds to the tension! This is definitely an intriguing mystery read that will keep one turning the pages for its finale. While I had a few issues with this one I’m still eager to see where this story-line will go!

Overall Rating 3/5 stars

Book of Night releases May 3, 2022


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