Book of Night
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: May 3rd, 2022
Genres: Adult Fantasy
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.
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Though I've fallen for Folk of the Air's Cardan through fan art and bought a handful of sets of the books, I've yet to read them. So, when author Holly Black announced her debut into adult fiction with 'Book of Night,' I was really excited to experience her writing for the first time.. uninfluenced by any perceptions or spoilers I may have acquired along the way.
All I can say is.. if this is a good representation of her creative work, I definitely need to go back and read everything else. Consider me a fan.
I genuinely like Charlie, the main character which the story follows. She has a very natural texture to her that's uncommon, especially in modern fantasy. She's a girl with intentions to be sure, some good.. some bad.. but she owns them all. If she has any regrets, they're relatively few. She has a self-awareness that avoids the step into self-pity. Though she admittedly has faults, she seems satisfied for the most part with what she's chosen to use them for.
This story.. not unlike real life.. certainly has a darkness to it that leaves no one completely untouched. While that darkness simply tromps through some characters lives briefly, others are veritably mired in it.
While I hesitate to call this story a retelling, as it hasn't been billed as such.. it's at the very least.. heavily inspired by a folktale referenced throughout. But what wonderful things Black has done with those inspirations!
The magical system is unique, speaking both to the vanity and power obsessed traits within humanity. She creates what could be a very realistic direction followed by those with magic, those who want it, and those in-between.. who might profit from acquiring it for others.
As for the rest of the cast of characters, they are well-rounded and interesting. Even those mentioned only for a moment, feel solid, like beyond the scene they have full lives and stories of their own. I love that, as so often a glimpse of a character ends up feeling like nothing more than the few lines representing them.
Among the cast, Vince is certainly my favorite besides Charlie, but Balthazar, Odette, Posey, Adam.. good or bad.. they're all richly fleshed-out.
Black managed to surprise me more than once, a feat which is not easy. Each surprise was a pleasure, expertly crafted, rather than the random nonsensical twists thrown haphazardly throughout a story that I've become accustomed to from modern writers. This author is not just a writer, she's one of those rare storytellers.. that has you hanging on every word. And between you and I.. the ending left me with the proverbial urge to.. 'kick puppies'.. as they say. Or something of that nature.
Nonetheless, the ending was perfect. Do I hope there will be a follow-up book? Yes and no. Either way, I'm glad I pre-ordered a few copies of this book and I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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