This is the shadowy story of a low-level con artist forced into the role of hero when she must confront an old foe.
Good to know
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, nonexistent. 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.
Book of Night
Any child can be chased by their shadow. All they need to do is run straight toward the sun on a lazy afternoon. As long as they keep moving, it will be right behind them. They can even turn around and try to chase it, but no matter how fast their chubby legs pump, their shadow will always be a little bit out of reach.
Not so with this child.
He runs across a yard dotted with dandelions, giggling and shrieking, his fingers close on something that shouldn’t be solid, something that shouldn’t fall before he does onto the clover and crabgrass, something he shouldn’t be able to wrestle with and pin in the dirt.
After, sitting in the mossy cool beneath a maple tree, the boy sticks the tip of his penknife into the pad of his ring finger. He turns his face away so he doesn’t have to watch. The first poke doesn’t go through the skin. The second doesn’t either. Only the third time, when he presses harder, frustration overcoming squeamishness, does he manage to cut himself. It hurts a lot, so he’s ashamed of how tiny the bead of blood is that wells up. He squeezes his skin, to see if he can get a little more. The drop swells. He can sense the shadow’s eagerness. His finger stings as a dark fog forms around it.
A breeze comes, shaking loose maple seeds. They spiral down around him, coptering through the air on their single wing.
Just a little drink every day, he’d heard someone on the television say about their shadow. And it will be your best friend in the world.
Although it has no mouth and no tongue and there is no wetness at its touch, he can tell that it’s licking his skin. He doesn’t like the feeling, but it doesn’t hurt.
He’s never had a best friend before, still he knows that they do things like this. They become blood brothers, smearing their cuts together until it’s impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. He needs someone like that.
“I’m Remy,” he whispers to his shadow. “And I’ll call you Red.”
Why I love it
BOTM Editorial Team
How do you know when you’re fully immersed in the world of a book? For me, it’s when I forget to check if I’m at my train stop. Or when someone says my name for the hundredth time, trying to draw my attention away from whatever story I’ve lost myself in. It’s a feeling that I search for every time I reach for a new book. So when I read the first few pages of Book of Night, I knew it was going to be one of those special books that pulled me into its world and would not let me return to reality until I had savored every last page.
Charlie Hall is a low level con artist who does the occasional odd job here or there when she’s not bartending, having left the more dangerous world of shadow trading and gloamists behind. Gloamists are people who steal shadows and manipulate them for all sorts of reasons: for entertainment, to alter memories, even to gain power. And Charlie wants no part in it. But then one day, someone from Charlie’s past reemerges. Suddenly, she is thrown back into the dark world of shadow trading, where she encounters people who would do anything to control the shadows.
This is a deliciously dark tale that I promise you will not be able to put down. I could not get enough of its intricate world building, suspenseful plot, or Charlie Hall, who I rooted for on every page. Holly Black has created a shadowy masterpiece, wholly unique and even a little sinister at times. Don’t miss out on this story—let it pull you in for a wild ride.
Member ratings (4,975)
Incredibly well written, I read it nonstop for several days until I finished. Compelling world-building and characters. The shadow magic is captivating, I’m watching my shadow for signs of quickening
Fort Myers, FL
The coolest magical system that I’ve read about in a long time. Charlie and Vince are very compelling and I loved Charlie’s sass. I’ll never look at my shadow the same way! Bittersweet ending.
I loved this book and tipped right through. Already awaiting the second book(there is a second, right?). I never expected the twist until it was right in front of me and wow the last scene was a doozy
Love might be too strong of a way to describe my reaction to this book but it was more than like! I appreciated the creative way the author helps readers see that love is about loving the good and bad
Airway Heights, WA
I liked this a lot. Don't go in expecting it to be like Folk of the Air. Also reminder: "adult" means adult characters and themes like violence and trauma, not necessarily sex. This isn't a romance.