The Book of Night by Holly Black takes place in our world, but it is known that there are some people who have extra abilities. The system of magic in the story revolves around “gloamists” who can manipulate their shadows to do tasks for them. Of course the gloamists are after as much power as they can get and sometimes that means stealing from other gloamists. The main character in the book is Charlie Hall, who is a bit of a con artist and theif. She started off learning her “trade” as a child. Her mother didn’t give her much attention until Charlie figured out that her mom was very interested in talking with spirits. So Charlie pretended to have a spirit speak through her and her mom was thrilled. One of her mom’s friends was not so easily fooled. He was a professional fake that would use his supposed abilities to get into rich people’s homes and rob them. He took Charlie under his wing and trained her to be a con artist and steal for him. Eventually Charlie decides to go straight and as the story opens she works as a bartender while living with her kid sister Posey. It seems though that it just isn’t meant to be and she is pulled in to the power plays of the rich and powerful until she is in way over her head.
The world building is good and we gradually learn about gloamists, Charlie, her family, and her back story. As good as the world building is, it is the character of Charlie Hall that really makes the story. Charlie realizes that her mother made lots of bad decisions and sub-optimal choices about men, and Charlie is following in her footsteps. However, Charlie is true to herself and it is that quality that not only provides her self-aware and self-critical personality, but also by being Charlie she is able get out of the mess she finds herself in.
The Book of Nights moves at a quick pace, the central characters are well developed, and the story telling is good. This is a fun book and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I listened to the audio version and the reader was good. Holly Black has written mainly young adult and graphic novels. This is her first adult book.