Book Of Night by Holly Black
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Summary from NetGalley:
Charlie Hall has never found a lock she couldn’t pick, a book she couldn’t steal, or a bad decision she wouldn’t make.
She’s spent half her life working for gloamists, magicians who manipulate shadows to peer into locked rooms, strangle people in their beds, or worse. Gloamists guard their secrets greedily, creating an underground economy of grimoires. And to rob their fellow magicians, they need Charlie Hall.
Now, she’s trying to distance herself from past mistakes, but getting out isn’t easy. Bartending at a dive, she’s still entirely too close to the corrupt underbelly of the Berkshires. Not to mention that her sister Posey is desperate for magic, and that Charlie’s shadowless, and possibly soulless, boyfriend has been hiding things from her. When a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie descends into a maelstrom of murder and lies.
Determined to survive, she’s up against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, gloamists, and the people she loves best in the world—all trying to steal a secret that will give them vast and terrible power.
ARC provided by Tor Books via NetGalley for an honest review.
This book starts off a bit slow and somewhat disjointed, but if you stick with it you will be pleasantly surprised by how good it is. Reviewing ARCs is always a little hard, especially by authors I like, as I am never sure if what I am reading is the final edit or not. I certainly hope this one gets another look by editors as there were some inconsistencies and some decidedly clunky dialogue and transitions. But looking past all of that, this is a really good, dark urban fantasy that will have you checking to make sure your shadow isn’t up to no good behind your back.
I like Charlie Hall, who mostly narrates the story, although she can be abrasive and not very nice at times. She had a strange childhood, being introduced and taught by various con-artists, as well as being used in various cons by a family friend. We get all of this through chapters that describe her childhood and what led up to where she is today. She is clever and strong, but often has to fight against those who want to use her. I loved her relationship with her sister Posey, it was very realistic in that they fought, but they also had each others backs when needed.
Vinny is Charlie’s boyfriend and towards the end of the book we do get a few chapters from his point of view, both in the present and the past. I liked Vinny and I even liked him with Charlie, but there is something slightly off about him. He doesn’t express emotions well, or have a shadow.
The plot is well done, with Charlie getting dragged into a heist that she really doesn’t want to do, all because she tries to help a friend. But it does start off slow, and the world building was a little bit off as well. I never fully had the complete picture of what this shadow magic could do or why people would want it. It was interesting though, as were other aspects of this alternate world. The writing was clunky and disjointed at times, not at all what I usually expect from this author. Hopefully it did receive some polishing before it got printed. The pacing and the quality gets better as you get into the story until a really mind blowing reveal near the end. However the final chapter left me hoping that there will be a sequel, although I can find no evidence that will happen.
But even with all of the issues with pacing and writing, this is a wonderful and intriguing story of the lengths some people will go to to protect the ones they love. I also very much enjoyed the shadow magic and the creepiness of it as well. It would be weird to see my shadow moving while I stayed still, or to have no shadow at all.
If you are a Holly Black fan, then this is a book you will want to check out. If you have never read her before, I would still recommend this book to you, especially if you like dark and creepy tales.