Having read all of the Folk in the Air series by Holly Black in the last few years I was very excited about her foray into adult fantasy. There is of course always some trepidation when a YA author turns their hand to adult fiction as there is always the concern that there will be little difference in the writing. However, Leigh Bardugo has proved it can be done and a clear line can be made between YA and adult through her debut adult title, Ninth House which I also read and reviewed recently. So, without further ado, lets jump straight in…
Book of Night is about Charlie Hall. She lives in a world where shadows can be altered in multiple terrifying ways and can even be separated from their human. It is a world where dark magic although mostly hidden is still a threat to many areas and as a talented con artist and thief, Charlie is well aware to be afraid of what lurks in corners, the dark shadows which can cause considerable harm to those it seeks.
However, Charlie Hall is tough and clever, having spent her life stealing and conning her way against the elite to earn her keep, stay alive and look after her family, especially her sister. As she becomes older she tries to escape this world by becoming a bar tender, but she can’t help being sucked back into the world of shadow magic and the dangers it poses to those who alter their shadows.
Just like Leigh Bardugo did with Ninth House, Holly set her debut dark fantasy novel in the real world which made it all the darker and at times unsettling. There were a lot of side characters introduced quite early on so at first, I was spending a bit of time flicking back and reminding myself who they were (reminded me of GoT reading) but once you got the grips with who’s who it was easier to just let yourself be absorbed by the world and the story.
This was clearly an adult dark fantasy as it was much darker than the Folk in the Air series and the characters felt more complex and with mirkier pasts. I enjoyed how we were given flashbacks into Charlie’s past and how it all began as it gave us a bigger insight into her origin story and helped the reader to understand how she became this low-level con artist/thief.
The story itself was immersive and featured some shocking twists which I didn’t see coming and the world itself was a wonderful mixture of dark magic and realism to create this seedy, gritty underground world, especially surrounding the bar.
This is a tale of survival, dark magic, desperation and the levels some people will go to acquire what they desire most, and more importantly how much they are willing to sacrifice, including their own shadow.
I really hope this becomes a series as I feel like there is a lot you can do with this world and the cast of characters, and they seem to have only touched the surface when it comes to the possibilities and opportunities of the setting and the magic. I don’t think I have read many novels about shadow magic, and it was fascinating learning all about the different procedures these characters had to morph, alter and even remove it from their person.
If you are looking for a dark adult fantasy set within a realistic environment I would definitely recommend Book of Night. The writing was much more mature to suit the adult genre and the style was much darker than Folk in the Air although I felt the world creation and characters were just as superb.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – A dark, gripping novel showing us the shocking cost of shadow magic and the dangers that magic can bring to those conducting it and others around them.