Review of Holly Black’s BOOK OF NIGHT

Book of Night by Holly Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ms. Black is a genius when it comes to penning new fairy tales you’d never want to deliver to the hands of a young child. The modern setting feels natural to the cadence and pattern; the Brothers Grimm transported into the 21st century. There’s never any doubt that magic exists in the world with a list of rules and consequences. It’s a beautifully wretched gift she continues to share with the world.

And Charlie follows a pattern of protagonists with questionable motives and morals. You can’t help but admire her – complete with the imperfections missing from the standard female lead – and stand in her corner. Does it matter that she’s little better than a common criminal? More importantly, does the story of her childhood offer insight into her actions and provide sympathy for her position in life? You’re standing on the other side of the mirror, granted a deep dive into the psyche of an individual you would otherwise never give a second consideration. (Something Ms. Black does so well)

In a world of gruesome possibilities, the reader is tasked with deciding where the least unattractive options lie. It’s a parallel to reality – if you choose to see it, at any rate. There aren’t any rainbows or gallant knights with swords that white-washed fairy tales have led us to believe exist. And the ending is as cutting as the original bite found in the unedited stories publishers are s reluctant to position on the shelves in the children’s section.

The book’s a masterpiece. My only complaint is the inconsistency of translation for the Liber Noctem – minus an explanation. Night? Blight? Are they meant to mean the same thing? Or is there a difference depending on who is reading the pages? Or even two separate books? (Or something as irritating as an editing oversight?) If you’re going to slide between two words, at least let the reader know why.

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