Audiobook Review: Book of Night

Published May 3rd 2022

Author: Holly Black

Narrator: Sara Amini

Audiobook Length: 12 hours 33 minutes

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

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.

Book of Night is Holly Black’s debut adult fantasy novel. At the moment this is a standalone, but there is potential based off the novel itself where I could see it becoming a series. My first introduction to the author, like many readers, is the Folk of the Air trilogy. For those expecting something similar as the transition is made from young adult to adult, I believe they will walk away disappointed. While I did not need fae or the romance style to be the same, it did read like an entirely new author in a way. There were small hints in the reading based off the general style where I could tell it was the same one, but not enough where I would put it together if the author’s name was never listed on each story.

Before even getting into the story and characters, this story is difficult to review. While it may turn into a series if the author and publisher deem it okay to proceed, most likely based on sales, it is difficult on the reader to connect with the novel. If it is a standalone, it reads one way and if it is a series, then it reads an entirely different way.

This story follows 28-years-old ex-con artist turned bartender Charlie Hall. Unlike many stories featuring romance, Charlie already has an established relationship with her boyfriend, Vince Damiano. Along with trying to turn a new leaf, she takes care of trying to guide her 25-years-old sister, Posy. Regarding her sister, it did read at times where she came across as a lot young (maybe mid- to late-teens) and not in her 20s. While it doesn’t quite affect how the story reads, it did take some moments to remind myself of their ages and how they are supposed to come across. When Charlie runs into a gloamist, an individual with magic and deals with shadows, she is sent on a mission.

Throughout the story, the reader discovers the dangers and mysteries that Charlie faces on her quest. Once this portion arrives, the pacing does pick up as the beginning does seem bogged down by the initial details. If I were reading the printed version, I may have DNF’d the story as it does take a long time to connect to the novel. Since I did the audiobook, I just let it play in the background and became hooked in towards the second half. Overall, the story itself is not bad in any way. There are portions that I felt needed to be explored more, but I appreciated Black’s attempt at writing an adult fantasy story that reads like a crime drama. I do not believe I will reread this novel any time soon, but I am still interested in reading more from the author in the future.

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