Book of Night by Holly Black
I’ve been a fan of Holly Black since before The Spiderwick Chronicles was made into a movie, which was quite a long time ago. Her books are usually quirky, edgy, occasionally dark fantasy, aimed at a young adults audience. Book of Night is her first novel marketed for adults.
Charlie Hall is a young woman who is trying to reform her past as a child thief and con artist, by working as a bartender at a shady tavern. This is working out about as well as such things usually do, which is . . . not very well. So it takes only the murder of a total stranger to hurl her back into a dangerous, magical world that wants her for past crimes and suspects her of present ones.
Charlie’s world works on shadow magic, using interchangeable human shadows which can be molded into decorative playthings or corrupted into powerful beings. The magic system is unique, sinister, and oddly limited, so that the most menacing thing in the book is the magicians and not the creepy magic they use. There is plenty of suspense, but no lurking horror, though I admit that, once I’d picked it up, I had to read all the way through to the end.
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