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Book of Night

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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 doppelgängers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

Holly Black makes her adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published May 3, 2022

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About the author

Holly Black

223 books86.7k followers
Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,804 reviews
Profile Image for Yun.
513 reviews19.8k followers
April 25, 2022
I don't believe it. I thought for sure I would love Book of Night, one of my most anticipated reads of the year, from the author who wrote one of my favorite YA fantasy series of all time. But I didn't. I think I'm in shock.

Where do I even start? When I think of Holly Black, I think of The Cruel Prince, with its sharp writing, compelling characters, well-plotted story, and seamless worldbuilding. None of that was here.

Instead, the writing was so flat, I didn't feel anything reading this. There was no tension, no suspense, no compulsive need to turn the pages. It's like all the energy has been sucked out of the story, and all that's left is words on a page. I honestly forced myself to continue and see it through to completion. I held on, hoping that it would turn around and grab me. But it never did.

The characters were some of the dullest and most unmemorable I've ever come across. To say Charlie is unlikable would be to imply she has some personality for me to dislike. But she doesn't. Her only attributes seem to be that she has righteous anger and she makes bad decisions, but I don't really understand why. There's no insight into her underlying motivations. We are only told constantly of what she is, but never shown.

There were so many side characters, I had trouble keeping them apart. They're all haphazardly introduced without any distinguishing characteristics that would make them unique or memorable. After a while, they all blur together. It feels like anytime something needed to be explained, a new character would be introduced along with a random digression, just to get the point across.

The worldbuilding was so awkward and confusing, I'm still not sure I understood it, even after having read the whole book. I don't think the magical system is that complicated, yet somehow, the explanations provided just didn't work for me. Most of the time, I felt like I was guessing at what everything means. (Shadows give you magical powers... and feelings? Gloamists trade shadows and have power, but why? What is carapace, Cabal, Hierophant?)

The story unfolds via a dual timeline, but the pacing was extremely slow for both. You have the present one, slow and plodding, intercut with the past timeline, which was somehow even more glacial, if you can believe it. So the overall effect is the mother of all slow burns.

This is supposed to be Holly Black's adult debut, yet it doesn't feel any more adult than her previous YA books, other than a few F-words here and there. If anything, it feels less. I remember the sexual tension in The Cruel Prince, and it didn't even have any sex scenes (being YA and all). This book, with a few fade to black ones, was somehow completely devoid of any sizzle or spark.

But for me, the biggest issue is that the story just doesn't make sense. The different parts of the magical world felt randomly tossed together without really blending into a cohesive whole. And the characters' actions don't really ring true for me either. Charlie, in particular, did so many things for no reason other than that she "makes bad decision," which is literally the explanation given.

Still, for all my complaints, the last 50 pages did come alive and breathe some life into this story. Things finally started to happen and a few separate events did come together with some satisfaction. If there's one thing the story does do right, it's that it contains a few twists that took me by surprise.

Just one last note. The story ends on a cliffhanger that clearly sets up for a sequel. I'm not a fan of books that pretend to be standalones, but actually turn out to be the first in a series. And especially when I didn't enjoy the book, it means I don't even get the satisfaction of having reached a real conclusion. So there's that.

I don't doubt that many readers would enjoy this dark magical tale, but it just wasn't for me. And after all that anticipation, no one's sadder than me.

My heartfelt thanks for the copy that was provided for my honest and unbiased review.

See also, my thoughts on:
The Folk of the Air
#1. The Cruel Prince
#2. The Wicked King
#3. The Queen of Nothing

Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.4k followers
June 22, 2022
this started off pretty rough, but im glad i pushed through it because i actually ended up liking it by the end.

lets talk about the first half. yes, its slow. yes, the world-building is lacking. yes, its a little bit boring. yes, the characters are pretty flat. but eventually you come to a moment where you realise things are actually more interesting than you think. it just takes time. and honestly, vince is the key. im so glad i found him intriguing enough from the beginning or else i dont think i would have made it to that moment. vince and his mysteriousness is the glue that holds this entire story together.

so i think if you have patience for the slowest of slow burning plots, plus have an open mind and are receptive to how different this story is, then i think you might enjoy this, too.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
July 24, 2022
Happy belated birthday! And here’s my digital work for celebrating the release of this beauty!


Well, well, well! As devoted fan of “The folk of the air “series, this was one of the most anticipated first book of brand new and author’s first adult fantasy installment I have been longing for!

I have complex feelings: there are so many pros and cons for making me decide how I truly felt about it!

I think positive attributes of the book attracted me more than I expected!

Firstly: when I read a book, I ask myself what’s more important for me? Pacing? Way of storytelling? Plot line? Structure? Execution ? Ending?

Of course each of those elements are crucial. But in my opinion; character building is most important thing about a story. And it gets more important when you start new series because it’s long time commitment just like watching series more than two seasons. You patiently wait for what’s gonna happen to them at the next book, cheering for them, getting angry with them, being happy for them, screaming at them. They should be easy to connect so you can root for them.

At this book hands down: Charlie and Vince were extremely likable characters! Charlie; a talented thief, still suffering from choices she’s made in the past, having low self esteem, thinking she doesn’t deserve anything good for her even though her new relationship with Vince is doomed to fail! She works as a bartender and helping out people at her spare times.

And Vince, that devoted, coming from wealthy family, introverted, caring man who lost his shadow for a long time ago attracted me with his mysterious, inscrutable identity. I loved him from the beginning.

The second thing I enjoyed about the book is; shadow magic: how shadow gets separated from the people to gain more power which comes with a very painful cost.

The third thing I enjoyed is execution of the mystery: when Charlie is forced to get a compelling task related with her past which results with revealing secrets about shadows. She realizes she’s risked more than she can handle.

But… there are things bothered me a little;
Third person, flat narration was not great choice for storytelling. Dual or multi POVs worked so much better. The less dialogues and flat tone reminding you of long essays make you yawn just a little bit!

The first half of the book was too slow and I guessed so many readers are not patient enough to go on and most of them dnf and drop it down.

On contrary, the second half is so much faster with so many plot twists: so many things happened at the same time so it left me breathless. So balance of pacing was one of the weakest point of my reading.

And we absolutely need more details about world building.

But I’m still rounding up 3.5 stars to 4 it’s still promising start to a brand new series with surprising cliffhanger which kept me on my toes.

I have to be honest: I could give additional star just for the last line Charlie said: I sighed so many times and hugged my e-reader as if I was hugging Charlie. ( you’ll understand me when you read it)

I hope dear Holly Black won’t keep us too long! I’m so sure second book will be even better than the first installment.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/ Forge for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,167 reviews98.2k followers
December 31, 2021
ARC provided by the publisher

truly a way to end 2021.... hehe >.<

trigger and content warnings: a lot of blood depiction, self harm to get blood because of the magic in this book, very brief mention of cancer, gore, violence, death, murder, child abuse, toxic living situations, depression, grief depiction, panic attacks, anxiety, gun violence, drinking, brief mention of alcoholism, drugging, throwing up, captivity / themes of being forced into places (i'm trying to not be too spoilery, i'm sorry! lmao!) - this book very much focuses on trauma, please use caution and make sure you are in the right headspace

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Profile Image for Hamad.
1,009 reviews1,327 followers
July 20, 2022
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

“It takes bravery to be an adventurer,” Odette said, lifting her drink and walking away. “And what better adventure than the discovery of our true selves?”

I can’t believe I am one of the first people to rate and review this book, I mean it is freaking Holly Black and there are currently less than 10 reviews of people who read the book there! I am thankful for the publisher for providing me with an E-ARC in exchange of an honest review!

I should also point out that I really enjoyed The Folk of the Air series (Not obsessed as other readers were but still liked it very much) so I am kind of familiar with Black’s writing. However, this is her adult fantasy debut so it is a new territory for the author! It is funny how the blurb says the following: a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies in the vein of Ninth House and The Night Circus! The funny part is that I did not like either of these books but I did enjoy this one!

I think reader’s expectations should be adjusted for this series, this is not an adult version of The Cruel Prince, the world is different, the romance is different and event the vibes are different. The story follows Charlie Hall who is a bartender/ con-artist who lives in a world where shadow manipulating is a thing. Shadows can be manipulated for all kind of reasons and Charlie find herself entangled in a web of secrets and murder against dangerous people who may be part of her past!


The writing is good, I believe it is a bit more mature which goes well with the age group, that being said, I think I found The Folk of the Air series more quotable! The story is confusing at first because the world needs some time to get into although it is not very complex once some answers are provided. The story is told mainly through Charlie’s POV with chapters from her past.

The characters were good but I don’t think they will be very memorable for me let’s say in one year from now. There isn’t enemies to lovers here which I have been asked about and there is kind of the opposite! I think Charlie and Vince were well written but they did not blow my mind or were very unique!

The world is interesting but I think the story took the mystery/ thriller way rather than focusing on the fantasy aspect themselves which for me made the story lose some of the potential. I think it takes some time to get oriented but the story holds the attention for sure. I was very sure this was supposed to be a series but I am not so sure anymore and if this is a standalone then I still need some answers?!

“If she couldn’t be responsible or careful or good or loved, if she was doomed to be a lit match, then Charlie might as well go back to finding stuff to burn.”

Summary: I enjoyed the story but I guess I was expecting a bit more from someone as big as Holly Black! I think the idea was very interesting but it loses itself a bit in the execution. The writing and the characters are very good and I believe many fans will enjoy the book!
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,051 reviews49k followers
November 10, 2022
this one is tough to review. like many reviewers, i think this felt longer than it actually was and the first 50% dragged BADLY. very little in the way of exposition for the shadow concept so you're confused as fuck and then add about a dozen character introductions that literally do not matter? i would have dnf'd if i didn't own this book.

but the second 50%... feels like holly at her best. don't get me wrong, i love the cruel prince series but i cut my teeth on tithe, valiant, and ironside when i was in middle school. i love her gritty urban fantasies. and once we get to the twists and turns? i was definitely more on board.

but i do still have lingering questions... the main one being what is the point? i guess once we find out how shadow manipulation gone wrong works i was compelled. but the idea of manipulating your shadow to have horns/wings or to like do some tasks for you? i didn't understand the point unless it's supposed to be a power for power's sake/the rich can have it and you can't thing. felt like a weak reason for this magic to exist in the first place.

this is one that i'm going to have to sit with for a bit. maybe revisit when the next book comes out. it's slated to be a duology (hoping it stays that way). doesn't feel like a huge time investment... but i'm not sure this is one i'd recommend to anyone that hasn't read all of holly's backlist lol
Profile Image for myo ✧༺ ༘♡ ༻∞.
741 reviews6,465 followers
December 11, 2022
i came back to change my rating, this book doesn’t even deserve 3 stars. this was so fucking boring. i was loving it at first because it’s holly black and it had mentioned tarot cards and i do tarot. i kinda hated the way tarot card readers are represented (?) in this book. as if they’re scammers, i know it’s fictional but it just didn’t sit right with me. the book was boring as hell, the main character was bland and honestly there wasn’t a romance. i don’t need a romance to enjoy a book but i just feel like if there was a romance there would’ve been something redeeming about this book but it just.. was not.
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,314 followers
May 10, 2022
Is there a book that I was more excited for coming out in the first half of 2022? Book of Night is definitely a top contender for that space in an admittedly very crowded field.

stealing this gif from my Gallant review because it’s too perfect

Charlie Hall is an (allegedly) retired con-artist and current bartender who’s trying to scrape by. She lives with her sister Posey and her boyfriend Vince, and really just wants to bide her time in relative obscurity. But once a thief, always a thief, and Charlie can’t seem to resist the urge to investigate when things start to go awry. Because there’s been a change in Charlie’s world over the past several decades. Gloamists, once designated to the shadows that they control, have reached a popular consciousness. It turns out people’s shadows have power, and gloamists aren’t the only ones looking to capitalize on this new dominion.

As Charlie and those around her get sucked into schemes larger than they could imagine, she’s got to find a way to protect the people she cares about from the dark forces at work. Both new villains and ghosts from their past are looking to utilize Charlie for their own means, and she’s going to have to dig every skeleton out of every closet in order to unravel why.

I’m staring at the two comps in the synopsis and am just kind of perplexed why they would pick those. Listen, I enjoyed The Night Circus, but I don’t see many similarities at all there. Black doesn’t write the same kind of descriptive, flowery prose as Morgenstern and there’s definitely not anything resembling a magical traveling circus in Book of Night?? I can see where maybe the Ninth House comparisons come from, but even though I also liked that book it was bloated in a way that this one is not.

Book of Night feels like such a departure from what I’ve read of Holly Black before and yet still so distinctly her own. I’m going to cautiously say it reminds me of Sarah J. Maas’ pivot from fae-centered fantasy worlds into a grittier, urban fantasy environment in House of Earth and Blood. I mean this purely in subject matter and focus, not writing, as I think Maas and Black have covered similar sub-genres in the past and now seem to be walking a parallel path once again. But I’m not trying to scare off people who didn’t enjoy Crescent City but loved The Cruel Prince, this is still 100% a Holly Black book.

That said, it’s going to be pretty different from The Folk of the Air trilogy, and not just because it’s about magical shadows that eat blood. Fans of the Cardan/Jude relationship probably won’t be satisfied by the romance in this book, although there is definitely potential for that type of adversarial dynamic if Black decides to do a sequel. I’m also still a little fuzzy on the distinctions between the four types of gloamists and what exactly the power hierarchy is, but that didn’t impede my enjoyment of the story overall.

My best guess is that this is the start of a series. Either that or Black is a bit sadistic. While the story’s arc finishes resolutely by the end of Book of Night, she dangles an enticing set-up for a follow-up right as the dust is starting to settle. I can imagine some people grumbling about the way Black’s decided to leave her characters here, but that kind of seductively unsatisfying ending is my favorite way to leave a book, especially if you’re considering revisiting the story again in the future. Either way, I’m all in on Book of Night and any possible upcoming offshoots.

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,536 reviews9,784 followers
May 10, 2023
Throughout her childhood, Charlie Hall was trained by a family friend in the art of deception.

Young Charlie proved adept at every task that was thrown at her. Charlie ultimately became one of the most successful con artists around, but leaving that part of her life in the past, as an adult she works a normal job as a bartender.

Charlie's world resembles our own, but it's so much more interesting. It's full of dark, mystifying concepts such as shadow magic and other things I never quite understood.

One night at Charlie's work a violent incident occurs and someone ends up dead. This event opens up channels into Charlie's past. She has a mystery to solve.

Book of Night is Holly Black's adult debut and I would say one of the most anticipated releases of 2022.

I finished it a little over a week ago and have put off writing this review because I knew it would be a tricky one.

This novel starts out slow, containing a lot of flashbacks to Charlie's childhood.

Initially, I wasn't sold on that past perspective, but eventually I did come to understand why it was important to the development of Charlie as a character.

Once the murder mystery begins, it begins to pick up. I definitely would say I was more into the second half of the book than the first.

At almost 2-weeks post-completing this novel, I will admit, I remember close to nothing about the plot. There were quite a few characters, but the only two I remember by name are Charlie and Vince.

I did enjoy how morally grey the characters, especially Charlie. I thought she was a solid main and I look forward to learning more about her.

The magic system was interesting, although never fully explained. I definitely do not have a 100% grasp on the way this world works, but I am intrigued by it. The tone reminded me a lot of Ninth House.

In short, while I can't sit and explain every plot point of Book of Night to anyone, I can say I enjoyed my time reading it.

I would say if you enjoy dark Urban Fantasy stories with morally grey characters and a dangerous mystery at its core, you should pick this one up and give it a shot.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Profile Image for aphrodite.
388 reviews865 followers
April 19, 2022
oh man, this was b a d.

first off, although I applaud the author for breaking out of the mold of writing a fae story, I was really disappointed that this was not about faeries. partly because I just really enjoy fae lore but also because holly black is not great at worldbuilding as a whole. if you’ve read her previous books, she is known to throw things at the reader/assume her readers already know her world. when you’re already building off a lot of popular folklore many people are familiar with, sure it can work; but when you’re building your own magic system but still barely explaining anything AND doing a piss-poor job of it? yeah, not gonna work out for me.

the shadow magic was incredibly underwhelming. very underdeveloped and lackluster. the way it was incorporated in the world was just thrown together sloppily. the hierarchies were there as plot conveniences. and what the hell were the rules of this magic anyway??? couldn’t tell you. (and neither could holly because this book wouldn’t exist without the hundreds of plot holes in it)

as far as characters are concerned, absolutely nothing memorable at all. from someone who could write such compelling characters whom I LOVE (hi jude, love you) this was, again, severely underwhelming. I cared about absolutely no one. our main character had zero personality. the “romance” (if you can even call it that) lacked any tension whatsoever. and for some reason everyone in this town knew everyone, had history with everyone, and everyone was conveniently connected to further the “plot”. yup, okaaaayyy. also there’s a weird incestuous thing……. don’t really know why that was there.

also, I know it’s bad taste to compare books but I just can’t help but mention the parallels to ninth house. I mean charlie is very much a lukewarm alex, the shadows & ghosts react/are described fairly similarly, the dark tones, & the way the book switches back & forth from charlie’s tragic backstory? I’m sorry I just couldn’t not compare them.

TL;DR this book may be holly black’s adult debut but it truly feels like a rough draft of a debut novel. there is zero depth both in plot, characters, & world. it’s underwhelming and underdeveloped in every aspect. I am truly shocked at how (almost) unreadable it is. I hope this finds its right reader, but that reader is not me. I’ll be sticking to my cruel prince obsession, thank you.
July 23, 2022
Book of Night follows Charlie, who lives in a world where shadows can change in magical ways. Charlie has lived a life full of treachery and is trying to go on the straight and narrow. But life is never that simple, and when the Liber Noctem is stolen her life is thrown into chaos.

I absolutely loved the idea that shadows can be altered. I’ve never read anything with this idea before and loved it’s uniqueness. Unfortunately, I found the execution a little lacking. There wasn’t enough world building for me, which often left me feeling completely confused by the ins and outs of it all. I wish that time had been taken to really build the world, it’s laws and the people involved. I didn’t feel any tension, although the book was able to shock me at one point which I always enjoy! I read this as part of a buddy read and we all agreed that it seemed like the author knew what she wanted to write, but wasn’t actually putting that down on paper. Things were just being thrown at the reader without explanation.

I also didn’t connect with any of the characters, although I did quite like Vince by the end of the book. I find it so hard to love a book when I don’t connect with the characters or care about what happens to them! I also found that there where a lot of side characters, who were briefly mentioned and then would be brought up again later. They had no stories or personalities, so it just felt like their were a load of names being thrown around. I just couldn’t remember who any of them were! By the end I almost gave up trying to decipher all of the side characters! That being said, if a sequel was written I would read it!

I would recommend this to fantasy fans if you want to read something based on shadow magic. But it may be worth keeping notes on the theory and side characters!
Profile Image for Sofia.
257 reviews6,448 followers
August 10, 2022
Book of Night is a huge disappointment. The magic system is confusing and nonsensical, the characters are almost aggressively uninteresting, and the plot is a dragging, tedious mess.

The writing lost all of the biting wit, fierce emotion, and brilliant sharpness that made me adore The Cruel Prince. I don’t understand how Holly Black can create a whole cast of compelling, vicious, magnetic characters in the Folk of the Air trilogy and then write Book of Night, which has exactly zero interesting characters. The side characters all blend together. Charlie herself is so bland it hurts. Whenever Charlie does something that doesn’t make any sense, the excuse is that her most prominent character trait is being addicted to bad decisions (Never met a bad decision she wasn’t willing to double down on… Charlie Hall, drawn to trouble like an ant to a glue trap). The motivations of all the characters are either unclear or simply told to us. There’s no warmth to them, nothing I can get attached to.

The shadow magic in this book is hardly explained. Shadows can be cosmetically shaped, but they can also trigger emotions and give you powers? And somehow they’re linked to a person’s subconscious? There are a few attempts to add rules and structure to the magic system, but that is all tossed away whenever the plot needs shadows to do something different. The world is monotone and drab. I can’t even claim it had potential because it was so underdeveloped. I really hate to say this, but Book of Night felt like the first draft of a first outline. There were that many plot holes.

I’m tired of lackluster murder mystery plots in adult debuts from YA authors. It’s so specific, but I keep seeing this. Over and over again. It’s so sad to me when YA authors write adult fiction and lose their spark. “Adult” does not mean boring or slow or pretentious or edgy or two-dimensional. Adult fiction can be just as vibrant as some of the stunning YA novels these authors have written. I’m proud of them for stepping out of their comfort zones and trying something new, but this doesn’t mean they have to lose what made them stand out in the first place.

1 star
Profile Image for Sophie.
223 reviews551 followers
June 19, 2022
I was nervous about reading this at first because 90% of the people in my sphere have given it crap reviews so far, but I rather enjoyed it. The biggest communal complaint is that it was, "boring."

Well, if you're going into this expecting it to be like, The Cruel Prince, then, yeah, you might be disappointed. It's no Folk of Air. But is that really a fair comparison? That's like if you're disappointed that 10 million dollars isn't 50 million dollars. It's still 10 million dollars.

Charlie is a con artist, and has been, ever since she was a small child. She lives with her sister Posey, who reads tarot cards, and her boyfriend, Vince (who's past is rather mysterious). The three live in a world where shadows can be separate magical entities from your body, to do your bidding. They.. drink blood? (Idk). People start approaching Charlie about finding this book, The Book of Night, which is said to have the secret to releasing shadows from their owners bodies, turning them human. Charlie doesn't want to get involved, as the book involves Lionel Salt, a sadistic old billionaire who killed Charlie's stepfather. But alas, she does, and along the way starts to unravel her boyfriends mysterious past.

I liked this, it was clever. Charlie is a top-teir heroine, and the magic world was cool. The love interest was smokin' hot. Holly Black is also a phenomenal writer, I just like reading her narration in general. And the con artist stuff, the flashbacks, also cool. 'Specially Alanzo. No you won't believe me, but I myself have pulled some Alanzo sh8t before so it was fun to read about.

Like I said though, it's no Cruel Prince. My main complaints are that, 1. I guessed the ending. 2. The magic world was interesting but CONFUSING and as a world that really only has like one magical thing and shouldn't be that complicated, I felt like it took me a lot longer to grasp than it should have. 3. I NEEDED MORE ROMANCE, maybe I have a problem (I high key can't make it through 80% of books if they don't have sufficient amounts of romance in them) but I felt like I could've used a little bit more umph in that department.

Also... is this a standalone or the first in a series? The ending felt very unsatisfying to me, so.. maybe it's a series?

Overall though, I enjoyed Holly Black's adult fiction debut, and I think everyone's giving it a bit of a hard time. Give it a chance and don't let the negative reviews deter you ❤️
Profile Image for toointofiction.
193 reviews152 followers
October 31, 2022
*Updated*: scroll down to find the updated paragraph of my review

"Charlie Hall, at her best when doing her worst. Whenever she tried to create something, it broke apart in her hands. But blowing something up? There, Charlie had an unerring instinct for greatness."

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a spoiler-free review

I am officially left with one exam. I also sent the final draft of my thesis just moments ago, so wish me luck on that 🙏🏻🙏🏻 I hope all the tears and sleepless nights were worth it.

I decided to write a spoiler-free review of this book, something I don't usually do since this book has only been published so recently. It also marks Holly Black's adult novel debut which was reaaally exciting. Just seeing the word 'fuck' in a book written by a children's and YA author was so strange and intriguing. It felt so scandalous 🤭🤭 I also did not expect the lack of spicy sex scene (I'm so used to erotic romance novels I don't know what's normal anymore 😅😅), although that didn't bother me in the slightest. The book didn't need it anyway. I feel like I should say this: the cover is beautiful in its simplicity. Yes, I've seen better but I loved it anyway. I didn't expect the story to be so fast-paced, to be honest. I thought it would start slow like The Cruel Prince (love that book, love the whole series). It was a pleasant surprise.

Charlie Hall was likeable from the start. She was funny and loyal to those she loved, despite her reputation, and she proved that intelligence is not solely defined by degrees. She has been through a lot of shit that left her a human mess. Holly Black sure has a talent for beautiful, morally questionable, and incredibly self-destructive characters 🤩🤩 I am one hundred per cent sure that Charlie and Cardan would vibe haaard and definitely cause some mayhem in their wake. I can practically picture Jude and Vince there just shaking their heads in exasperation and faint amusement. I really really like Vince, even though I was reluctant to do so at the beginning. He was basically a more emotionally stable Jude with an equally fucked up past and unexpected secret. I actually wished he had more chapters than just moments from his past. Also, he is yet another man I CAN NEVER HAVE!!!! That's just not fair 😭😭

It's always: 'I love you'

"Last night, after you fell asleep, I couldn’t stop looking at the swell of your cheek. The snarl of your dark hair. The chipped black nail polish on your toes, curled up against whatever dream you were having. The way you pulled loose the bottom sheet with the violence of sleeping. I looked at you and had a feeling so intense that it made me dizzy and a little sick."

I did not really care for Charlie's sister, though. At first, Posey was giving me really intense Taryn vibes (meaning she looked suspicious and prone to betrayal), but that was mostly the irreversible damage Holly Black has caused me with The Folk of the Air. I did realise soon that she wasn't exactly like that, she was less of a bitch than I initially thought, but it didn't really help me like her any more than I already did.

The thing that I will always ALWAYS love in contemporary paranormal novels is the pop culture references. It makes me feel as if that fictional world can be a part of my boring one, and I totally pictured a Marvel multiverse situation. As if I could somehow travel to a world where everything is exactly the same but magic made it less dull. What I liked the most about it, however, was the references to real short stories that involve shadows like "The Shadow" by Hans Christian Andersen. I am willing to bet that had a lot to do with Black's inspiration to write this novel. I haven't read that short story but seeing it mentioned in such a great book reaally made me want to read it.

Update here:

As for that ending...ooooh...that ending. I initially rated this book 4 stars because it seemed to me that it was a standalone and if that were true, then that ending would be the cruellest thing anyone could ever do to a bookworm. But today (07-05-22) HB announced that this is, in fact, a series. A duology to be more precise. So, I will get to see my favourite con artist and her weird boyfriend again. It's not over! There's more coming! 🥳🥳I swear I couldn't be happier. Not only are we getting a brand new spin-off The Folk of the Air duology, but we are also getting more of this absolute masterpiece of a book. So, I change my rating to 5 AWESOME STARS!!! I seriously squealed so loudly, that only dogs could hear me.

Bonus Original Fairytale: The Girl with Three Shadows:

Bonus Story Link Here!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

⚠️Trigger Warning: Gruesome deaths⚠️

I FOUND IT!!! I FINALLY FOUND IT!! Bless the Reddit user who shared it. You are a true hero to all of us bookworms. I have been looking for this bonus story for weeks now.

This was an absolute delight!! Truly amazing!! I loved it sooo much. Holly Black sure knows how to write good, authentic-looking fairytales. I really liked the eerie, grim vibe it had going on, also it was really short and to the point. I always like that. If I didn't know it was hers, I would easily believe this is a real fairytale story from the past and not just a part of a fictional world.

Its authenticity probably comes from the story being really similar to the French folktale, "Bluebeard" by Charles Perrault. For those of you who don't know, this folktale tells the story of a wealthy man who habitually murdered his wives, and one wife's attempts to avoid the same end. In fact, it is the exact plot of HB's fairytale story, but with a more weirdly magical, shadowy twist and super strong girl-power vibes.

"Bluebeard" might have actually inspired this fairytale, as HB has a noted tendency to derive from various stories/fairytales and implement them in her books. She has referenced Hans Christian Andersen's "The Shadow" in Book of Night, and even referenced Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in her The Folk of the Air series. (I mean, Jude's story is basically a really cool retelling of Lewis Carroll's children's book.)

Only one question arose in my mind (which does so often with old fairytales): Why didn't the girl just use her shadows to kill that baron-jerk right away and get this thing over and done with quickly? I mean, she heard the rumours about him. 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️

Holly Black should expect my therapy bills very soon.
Profile Image for Melanie (MelReads).
107 reviews11k followers
July 10, 2022
* 3.5 stars *

those last 70 pages?! oh, i can���t wait for the sequel🏃🏻‍♀️
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,400 reviews11.7k followers
May 9, 2022
I don't know what happened here. A 300-page book from my fave writer that felt like 800 pages. Massively disappointed.

I love urban fantasy, I like the familiar cocktail of worldbuilding + mystery + romance delivered by a charismatic narrator. Not gonna lie, the series that work for me are the ones that have hot romance, and Book of Night just doesn't have one. Objectively speaking, there is nothing wrong with the worldbuilding or mystery here. But because the novel is written in 3rd person, it doesn't have the driving force of an engaging narrator. In theory, Charlie should be interesting and a compelling train wreck (a la Stacia Kane's Chess), but she isn't. And the romance... Well, all good stuff happens off page, you kind of jump into the relationship when it is fully formed, so there is nothing and nobody to fall in love with. There is no tension, there is no smut, there is nothing!

I am crushed. There is a setup for a sequel at the end, but I have no desire to put myself through this Book of Boredom again.
Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 50 books10.8k followers
January 13, 2022
Source of book: NetGalley (thank you)
Relevant disclaimers: nada
Please note: This review may not be reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, without explicit consent from the author.

I kind of have to be in the right mood for Holly Black. I really like her stuff (and I remember Tithe et al sort of blowing my mind in my late teens because, like, it was a book for people of my age group but it felt so dark and … and *grown up* somehow—and, really, I don’t think there’s anything a teenager desires more than being treated as a grown up) but, as I tried to explained to a friend, she can be quite a cruel writer. Not in a malicious or gratuitous way but, as the friend suggested, since cruel can sound pejorative, she’s a writer who Goes There. And, sometimes, I am weak and fluffy and I don’t want to Go There, you know? I want to Stay Here where it’s safe.

In any case, Book of Night Goes There. In aesthetic, it’s not so very different from Black’s YA work: there’s still intriguing world-building, complicated relationships and morally grey protagonists, all alongside delicate explorations of power, vulnerability, abuse, and damage. There’s perhaps a shade more sex and violence, but I think—and this comes back to what I really admire about Black as a writer—where Book Of Night most strongly comes across as a book for adults is because it’s ABOUT adults. And nowhere is this clearer than its cynical, self-loathing, hot mess of a protagonist, Charlie Hall.

I absolutely adored Charlie. She’s an ex-thief, ex-conperson, trying (and failing) to stay on the straight and narrow by bartending since her last job got her shot and the boyfriend who betrayed her killed. She has a new live-in boyfriend, a slightly mysterious fellow called Vince who doesn’t ask questions of her on the understanding she doesn’t ask questions of him—although maybe she should—and is trying to get together enough money for her younger sister to give up an obsession with magic and go to college. Except Charlie is irredeemably self-destructive: when it comes to men, when it comes to decisions, when it comes to not getting involved in the high-profile theft of a book called the Liber Noctis that might be connected not only to a bunch of murders but a conspiracy involving a ruthless billionaire called Lionel Salt.

The basic premise of the world is that the shadows of certain humans ‘quicken’ for reasons unknown (possibly trauma?). This gives them a substance that can be enhanced by feeding them blood and allows them to be used to perform magical feats, like, say murdering people? One of the interesting facets of the magic system is that the reality of magic has only recently entered public consciousness (following some kind of massacre by a rogue shadow, known as a blight) so information is both sketchy and contradictory. On the one hand, this is kind of fascinating because it keeps the world full of mysteries about exactly what shadows are and what can be achieved with them. On the other, it can sometimes dent its own revelations because, you’re left being like, “oh my God, so shadows can do [x]? Wait a minute, I didn’t even know they could do [y].”

Book of Night is slightly slow to start, but once it gets underway it’s a veritable page-turner of a mystery and a satisfying heist, with a touch of horror, a touch of romance, and a touch of action all expertly rolled into a ball of plotty nomsomeness. Most of all, though, it provides a marvellous stage for its equally marvellous heroine. I could talk about Charlie literally forever but her place in her world is so well-judged: she’s an excellent thief and an excellent confidence trickster, but she’s not a fighter and she’s not magical. This makes her both competent and vulnerable, which such a difficult balance to pull off: neither she, nor the reader, never quite loses the conviction that she’s in over her head, but you don’t have to worry she’s ever going to be anything less than resourceful, quick-thinking and ruthless when she needs to be. Unless she’s drunk, of course. But that’s the thing: even her moments of self-directed failure feel reasonable, understandable and true to her character. (As an aside, I’ll also add she’s tall and curvy, which is nice to see on page, and goes against the trope that all fantasy thieves have to be androgynous waifs).

Oh, and the other thing I think that marks Charlie as an adult character (she’s nearly 30) in a book for adults is just how … resilient her mess is. I think with YA there’s a sort of social responsibility to indicate to young people that there’s hope in the future and the things that may have damaged them, while they won’t magically go away, don’t have to control their lives forever. When you’re adult, you kind of ARE your damage and that’s that. And while it’s a fairly cynical way of thinking about it people, this is a more-than-fairly cynical book.

I think my feeling about Book of Night in general are somewhat dependent on whether it’s going to be a series. It does stand alone, but as a standalone the world-building is slightly too flimsy to fully support the story and, oh dear me, that ending is going to be … controversial. I don’t want to spoil it but it’s a bitter twist indeed, and one that might, to some readers (romance readers in particular) feel like a fuck you. As the first book in a potential series, the world building is just detailed enough to draw you in while preserving plenty of mysteries for future exploration, and the end of the book (while providing a meaningful resolution to the narrative arc) is QUITE the hook.

In NetGalley terms, this means it’s a four-star standalone, or a five-star series opener. In whether you should read it terms, it very much depends on your tolerance for non-happy-endings. And do check trigger warnings before diving in. This is dark AF. But, ending aside, there was a lot I loved about Book of Night: its (anti)heroine, in particular, will stay with me a long time.
Profile Image for Misty Marie Harms.
559 reviews332 followers
May 25, 2022
Charlie Hall has never lucky. In life, in love, in anything. In a world where magicians can manipulate shadows, thieves are highly sought after for stealing magical books and works. Charlie used to be one of them until she was almost killed. Now she is bartending in a local dive bar, trying to live a reformed life. Until walking home late one night, she witnesses a murder which drags her back into the world full of dangerous shadows. I liked this book because it is different from the usual magic reads. The use of one's own shadow is unique. Recommend reading in the dark with no lights. Definitely not in the sun.
Profile Image for Maisha  Farzana (on hiatus).
551 reviews216 followers
August 20, 2022
I am cursed. Every single one of my anticipated reads breaks my heart....."Book of Night", turned out to be a book I despise.

What the f*ck was this! I can't believe it. I can't believe Holly Black actually wrote this piece of shit. "Book Of Night" was one of my most anticipated books of 2022. I ditched my studies to read it & I have exams in a few days (which I probably will *bomb*). So who's gonna take responsibility of it now? You, Charlatan?

✩。:*•.───── ❁ ❁ ─────.•*:。✩

"Love was a family religion, passed down to her when she'd been too young to protect herself from belief."

"Book of Night" is a dark, twisted, atmospheric and high-stakes Adult Fantasy Romance book which is probably the first instalment of a new series. But it definitely can be read as a standalone. The story is set in an urban setting. It's also a heist story.

We follow our main character Charlatan Hall aka Charlie, a low level con artist, who's just trying to make it through the day. When a figure from her past shows up in her life again, her life is thrown upside down. Charlie finds herself sucked into the schemes of others and past figures come to haunt her, she’ll have to do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves.

“What makes you feel safe when you go to sleep at night? Being able to check and see that your secrets are still hidden.”

↳ The writing:
It was flat as hell. I have always been a fan of Holly Black's prose. Her writing is usually very exquisite, investing and accessible. I don't know what went wrong with this book. The writing was really really boring. It was hard grasp on the meanings of a number of paragraphs. The dialogues sounded cliche and well...stupid. I felt no compulsive need to turn the pages. But I still did as I didn't want to dnf it.

↳ The world building:
The setting of "Book of Night" might be the only good part of it. The world Black constructed was so cool! In Charlie’s world, shadows can be altered—for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but more importantly, to increase power and influence. I thought the idea was extremely fascinating. But the author once again fails to execute. We could have done better with less description and more showing.

The magic system was not complicated but the explanations provided didn't really worked for me. I was confused the whole time reading this book. I'm still not sure I understood any of it.

↳ The pacing:
The pacing of Book of Night is very different from Holly Black's YA series. While those are fast paced, this book takes quite a long to start making sense. It takes its time to settle into a smooth pacing.  At times, I almost felt like reading two different books. The first half dragged a lot. The second half was better but not by much.

↳ The characters:
Now now now (rubs hands excitedly), it's time to talk about our great Charlatan. I'm not going to call her Charlie. Don't ask me why because I myself have no idea. So...Charlatan was an interesting character. I was super excited after meeting her because I thought she would be a older version if Jude. Nope, I was dead wrong. Charlatan was stupid, annoyingly and boring. She had some character traits of Kaz. But we all know the truth. Kaz Brekker is one and only. Whoever tries to copy him...fails miserably. So, Charlatan, go and DIE.

Vincent fu*king Remy annoying Red - was such a two dimensional character. How could Holly Black give us this irritating jerk after gifting us Cardan? It's so iniquitous.

The cast of side characters were the dullest and un-memorable ones I have ever come across to. They were too many of them. Most of those characters were doing nothing but blocking space. None of them had any unique qualities that could help me to tell them apart. So, despite reading the whole book *attentively* ,I don't recall any of their names.

↳ The epilogue:
The ending chapter was actually really good. It was abrupt but fascinating. If only the entire book was as good as the ending point!

→ So...my thoughts in a nutshell, I didn't enjoy a single moment of reading "Book of Night". It was almost unreadable. Won't recommend it to anyone. I would rather continue obsessing over Jude-Cardan. Thank you. But I don't want you Charlatan.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
June 2, 2022
I have odd, conflicted feelings on this one, because on the one hand it is Holly Black, a legend in the fantasy world, and on the other, this didn't feel up to par for what I would expect a Holly Black novel to provide. It wasn't made clear going in that this would be either the first in a series or a stand alone that leaves you with little to no closure, which is one of my pet peeves, and there wasn't really anything I could put my finger on that made this feel "adult" compared to her YA books. The world building was lacking, and I'm still trying to determine if I understand the magic system beyond the fact that it involves shadows, perhaps because there aren't a definitive set of rules that keep the characters grounded. All that said, the last portion of the book really picked up the pace and things started happening that made me not want to put it down, so I have hope that if the author chooses to write a sequel to Book of Night, it will be an improvement from this installment.
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews168k followers
December 30, 2022
I felt pretty neutral about this one. I loved the magic element of this story and those bits where we got details surrounding the magic, I was all in! I think the best word I can use to describe this book is: underdeveloped. The world, the characters, the plot all fell flat for me.
Profile Image for Gillian.
125 reviews154 followers
July 21, 2022
I really liked this book! This was such a unique and intriguing urban fantasy book full of mysteries, magic, and betrayals. Charlie Hall is a con artist who works for gloamists, magicians who alter shadows to steal, kill or worse. Charlie tries to separate herself from her past mistakes, but her past catches up with her. Charlie learns that her boyfriend, Vince has been lying to her and soon after she finds herself caught up in lies and murder. She will do anything to survive and protect the people she loves.

The pacing in the beginning of the book was very slow and it took me a while to get into the story, but by the middle I was very intrigued by the world the author created. The book is told from Charlie and Vince's point of view. The world building was a little lacking, but the shadow magic was really cool. I really liked Charlie, she is tough, stubborn, fierce and will do anything for those she loves. I liked Vince, he is mysterious, helpful, and really cares for Charlie. I liked Charlie's sister Posey, but I wish we learned more about her character and who she is as a person. I wish there was more romance in the book. There were a few romantic scenes between Charlie and Vince, but I wanted more. I enjoyed learning about Charlie and Vince's past and I liked that the author switched between past and present time. There were several twists and turns that I didn't see coming. The ending was so good and shocking!
Profile Image for Rebecca Roanhorse.
Author 60 books7,606 followers
March 18, 2022
This was a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of Black's Curseworkers trilogy and this reminded me of that. Layer and layers of secrets, bad dudes and real bad dudes, dark magic and darker desires. And the final twist was classic Holly Black. I expected nothing less.
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