I saw The Book of Night sitting in the “New This Month!” display at the library when I went to pick up something else. And I love Holly Black, so I took it out on a whim.
The Book of Night follows Charlie, a woman who’s spent her whole life making all the wrong decisions. In Charlie’s world, shadows are magic and with the right formulas, can be manipulated, stolen, reattached, or end up as sentient beings. At a young age, Charlie got into the world of thieving, but where other crooks steal wallets and cars, Charlie steals the magic formulas for shadow manipulation. The problem is the world of shadows is far more dangerous than the regular crooked underground and when Charlie’s sister gets the opportunity to go to college, Charlie tries to turn their lives around. But the world of shadows is too enticing, and as Charlie tries to navigate the crooked world she’s good at against the normal world she wants to create for her sister, she realizes she’s far more entangled in the deadly shadow business than she realizes.
This is Black’s debut adult novel after years of dominating the YA speculative scene. And as much as the book was solid, I much prefer Black’s YA. One of the things I love about Black’s writing is her ability to absolutely encapsulate fantastical settings with such vibrancy and weight. She takes legends and myths and makes them real in all their horrible beauty, all the sensory parts of them almost dripping off the page. And I felt like that was missing in this novel.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s still good. Black writes a solid story that delivers all the things readers want, but I normally inhale her books in a few days, and this one definitely took me some time. I just wasn’t enraptured the way I normally am, and I think it’s because it wasn’t as easy to lose myself in this world as her YA ones.
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 because it was solid.
Bingo Square: Snake – for the snake-like behaviors of most of the characters.
Bingo! Across – Snake, Shadow, Cold, Rec’d, Bodies