Holly Black has a knack for heightening the tension between the world as readers know it and supernatural elements that infiltrate that world, bringing her characters face to face with themselves.
In her gripping debut novel for adults, Book of Night, Black (the Curse Workers series; Doll Bones, a Newbery Honor book; The Coldest Girl in Coldtown) creates an irresistible femme fatale in Charlie Hall, a gifted grifter living between the gritty real world of Easthampton, Mass., and its cursed underbelly, where gloamists manipulate human shadows for money and prestige. From youth, Charlie has purloined books and artifacts for the gloamists, but for the past 10 months, she's been trying to go straight. She likes her bartender job and her boyfriend, Vince. But when she comes upon one of her bar patrons--body gutted, shadow shredded--Charlie gets sucked back into the game to uncover the culprit. And she can't help thinking Vince is connected somehow to Easthampton's shady dealings; he has no shadow ("shadowless people had an absence in them"). Or is it just that she can't believe she's worth his affection? "That's what good con artists did," she tells herself. "They didn't need to convince you of anything, because you were too busy convincing yourself."
Into her haunting mystery, with classic horror and gothic elements, Black injects a sizzling romance and a protagonist attempting to do the moral thing in an amoral world. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness