Skip to main content

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

I know this is an almost unpardonably early review. But honestly, I waited on it as long as I possibly could before the effort of holding it in caused me some sort of bodily harm. I've been anxiously looking forward to For Darkness Shows the Stars for going on two years now, and the day an ARC showed up on my doorstep was just a very good day indeed. When a book you've been dying to read finally falls into your lap, do you ever just hold onto it and savor the possibilities? I do. I did with this one for a little while. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I just tear into it immediately. But sometimes I don't. Because sometimes dreaming about it while you're actually holding it in your hands is special, too. So I savored and I dreamt and I started reading and . . . I was gone. My first reaction to finishing it was a sense of complete satisfaction mingled with sadness that it was over. My second was thinking that I cannot wait to see For Darkness Shows the Stars work its magic on readers far and wide. As post-apocalyptic retellings of classics go, it pretty much killed it on all levels for this devoted Austen girl.

Elliot North knows how to work hard. As a member of the elite Luddite nobility, she has a keen sense of what is expected of her, of which actions are acceptable and which ones could get you disowned and out on the streets. It is that very sense of duty that kept her from following her childhood friend Kai four years ago, when he fled servitude on her father's estate for a life of uncertainty and, just possibly, freedom. Their friendship was forbidden from the beginning, as Kai belongs to the Post-Reductionist class, and ever since the catastrophic Reduction, matters or birth and class ruthlessly define every aspect of a person's life. But now, four long years have passed, and at eighteen years old, Elliot is the only thing keeping the family lands going. As her father and sister grow further distanced from reality, the world as they know it is changing. Determined not to be left behind, Elliot convinces her family to lease the land to a group of unusual shipwrights known as Cloud Fleet. Hoping the extra income will save her home, Elliot is, well, gobsmacked when one of the renowned shipwrights turns out to be none other than her old friend--no longer playful, open Kai, but smart, remote Captain Malakai Wentforth. Elliot knows how to work hard, but even she may not be up to the task of withstanding the flood of guilt and longing that threatens to overtake her with his return. Especially given the suspicions that being to swirl in her head regarding just what he and his fleet are up to.

Everything about this book soars, from its supernal setting to the dreams its characters hold in their hearts. Having read (and adored) Persuasion for years now, it was extremely gratifying to see the massive amounts of care and thought that went into the crafting of this story inspired by Jane Austen's final novel. In fact, I felt a healthy dose of admiration for the storytelling the entire time I was reading it. But the wonderful bit is that it won me over on its own strengths entirely. The world and its sinister history, the characters and their eerily perfect names, the writing and its effortless flow--they're all so interlocked and balanced, coming together so as to make hours go by like seconds. I may have been predisposed to like Elliot, but the way my heart launched itself into my throat when hers did, the way my temper rose on her behalf, and the way I held my breath at her restraint and cheered her adamant refusal to be downtrodden . . . I more-than-liked Elliot. I more-than-liked Kai (even when I wanted to hurt him). And most of all, I more-than-liked the brilliant ending. Here is one of my favorite non-spoilery passages, in which you get a feel for the way the writing lauds the original while extending it to support the strengths of these new characters and their spectacular world:
Elliot had had enough. "If you can't be civil to me, Miss Phoenix, I wish you'd leave me in peace. I have never done anything to you, and if you seek to punish me for past misdeeds, there is nothing you can devise that I haven't already suffered." Four years of worrying about Kai, followed by all these weeks of having him back here, but hating her. Was that not punishment enough?

"You baffle me, Miss Elliot," Andromeda replied in the same high-wrought tone. "I can't reconcile the young woman I see before me with the reports I have had."

What lies had Kai been spreading abroad? "I'm sorry to hear that, but it's none of my concern. I am the same person I've always been." She turned her face away from Andromeda, away from the crowd and from Kai. "Maybe you should ask yourself why, if I am the person you've been led to believe, someone would put their faith in me at all?"

"People are foolish when it comes to love."

Elliot hadn't been. She'd been rational, logical, reasonable, prudent. She'd been cold and cruel and disloyal and distant.

She hadn't been foolish.

She'd been the most foolish girl on the island.
Great, no? The killer thing about Elliot (have I mentioned how much I love her?) is that she has all the layers. She's the perfect blend of unmitigated strength and harbored regret. Every moment of every day she embodies dedication and resolve, all the while trying to mask the hope and the pain she lives with every moment of every single day. Here is Elliot:
No one came. Not her sister or her father, not Benedict or the Fleet Posts or even Admiral Innovation. No one appeared in the hall all afternoon but the mute, shuffling figures of the Reduced housemaids as they went about their chores. Time passed, and Elliot sat in the chair, waiting for the verdict from Felicia.

How much of her life had she spent waiting? Waiting for a plant to sprout? Waiting for her father's judgment? Waiting for another letter to appear in the knothole from Kai? Waiting for years after Kai left to feel at peace with her decision? She fed the Reduced, she did her chores, she avoided her father and her sister, and she waited. She did every duty she'd been taught as a Luddite, and she lied with every breath.
I'd say I don't know what to say, but I do. And it's this. Snatch it up the day it comes out--this beautiful book--this meticulous, breathtaking retelling of one of the greatest love stories ever penned.

Lastly, I just want to thank Diana (from the bottom of my heart) for page 117. Got it in one!

For Darkness Shows the Stars is due out June 12th.

Linkage
Nyx Book review
whatcYAreading? review

Comments

  1. Angie!!!!!!!! WHY WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ana, LOL. I swear I wasn't trying to make your life harder! I just . . . really enjoyed this book.

      Delete
  2. This sounds magical. Why can't June be here sooner!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandy, that's a good word for it. It just felt lighter than air and just as essential.

      Delete
  3. I just can't wait to get and read this book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sabrina, I can't wait to hear what you think.

      Delete
  4. I want to read it so bad! I love Persuasion!
    Thank you for review. I can't wait for this book, even though waiting for it is going to be a lot harder now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. StoryLover, my pleasure. And I really am sorry to make the wait harder!

      Delete
  5. I am beyond jealous but very happy to hear that it is as wonderful as you thought it would be. It's mine as soon as it hits the shelf!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laura, here's to Jane and everything she inspires!

      Delete
  6. This does sound good! I admit PERSUASION is not my favourite Austen, but I may have to re-read it before June.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Li, here's the thing about this book. It's gonna work for people who didn't necessarily love PERSUASION, imo, because of its great worldbuilding and the uniqueness of this take on the story. I wouldn't even say a re-read is required to enjoy it. But it definitely serves as a love letter to anyone who loves Austen.

      Delete
  7. I am dying. DYING. Persuasion is a favorite of mine, and I've been salivating over this book as it is.

    After reading the first paragraph of your review, I stopped and emailed the pub to beg for an ARC. haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Allie, LOL. Hope a copy arrives soon!

      Delete
  8. Pre-ordered! You had me at "Post-apocalyptic retelling of a classic"...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jolie, oh, awesome! Yeah, this one is likely to be right in your wheelhouse.

      Delete
  9. I love this book so much. I cannot even tell you. Beautiful, stunning, and evocative, Diana has knocked this one out of the park. I fell for it hard. (AND WHAT ON EARTH IS ON PAGE 117?! I gave my ARC away! I'm dying over here! Angie, DM me on twitter or email me or something. If it is what I think it is - I KNOW!!!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather, I'm so happy you loved it that much, too! Wasn't it just perfect? I wouldn't change a thing. DM on its way! I think you might KNOW. ;)

      Delete
  10. Oh, I'm so jealous. Want, want, want!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kerry, hehe. I know the feeling.

      Delete
  11. I am so, so excited for this one! Persuasion is my favorite Austen (so far, since I've only read this, P&P and Emma) and this remake just makes me so happy. I can't wait to get my hands on this.

    (And that lovely, lovely cover!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tina, then you are definitely not going to want to miss this one. I keep coming back to that cover, too. So pretty.

      Delete
  12. I sense that you liked it! I'm looking forward to it rather a lot myself...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charlotte, *hangs head* I know. I can be too effusive sometimes. Must exercise some restraint...

      Delete
  13. I hadn't even heard of this and now I can't wait to read it. I've always loved Anne Elliot, who lost her bloom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Livi, ooh. Glad I could spread the word. This Elliot is a winner as well.

      Delete
  14. I read the FIRST PARAGRAPH of your review and had to stop. I was ready to bite my fist in want. Seriously, I'm SO GLAD I just won an ARC now. As soon as it's in my grubby hands, I will be able to finish this review without making some sort of strange noise. I really want to read this one, in case you couldn't tell.

    P.S. I adore the pink you use in your blog now for the quoted bits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janice, LOL. I was so stoked to see your name listed as the ARC winner! Can't wait to hear what you think.

      Glad the pink is workin' for you. I wasn't sure, but liked the look.

      Delete
  15. You know you are killing us, right?
    I mean, I simply CAN'T wait to read this. I am so happy for you, that you got to read it, and enjoy it *sigh*

    Happy midnight reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ari, oh dear. I know I am. I am sorry to cause pain. Truly.

      Delete
  16. I was incredibly excited for this book when I first heard of it, then promptly forgot about it until I saw someone mention it on Twitter a few weeks ago. Now I'm excited again. Elliot seems to be a lot more confrontational than Austen's Anne, judging from the excerpt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melanie, oh good. It deserves to meet with some excitement, I think. This Elliot is a true descendant of the original Anne. I am partial to her more forward scenes, and may have featured them here. But she's true to the original in so many ways as well.

      Delete
  17. I'd grab a copy and read it right now if it has already been released. :) I love that it's a standalone novel because I still haven't read any of Diana Peterfreund's books (I know, I know). Lovely review, as always, Angie! You've convinced all of us to read this ASAP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chach, hooray for standalones, right?!

      Unsurprisingly, I have a suggestion as to how you could kill some time waiting for this one to come out. I call the first one SECRET SOCIETY GIRL . . . ;)

      Delete
  18. his is such a wonderful review Angie, it made me even more desperate to read this! I can not wait to meet Elliot and Kai and fall headlong into this book. I'm so excited! I know it is going to be a read through the night one!

    Also, YES! I sometimes have a book in my hands and don't start it. Love that anticipatory feeling, but also knowing I can start anytime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alexa, thank you! Makes me happy I'm not the only one who literally holds onto brand new books for a little while.

      Delete
  19. My heart was in my throat reading this review thinking 'it can't really be everything I hoped, can it?' and finding out that, yes, at least for Angie, it can! I am so so excited for this book, I cannot put it into words, and the relief I feel at reading your thoughts fills me with hope that I will not be disappointed. I feel like I'm going to have to pick up Persuasion for a re-read now to tide me over!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heidi, at least for me. :)

      I didn't reread PERSUASION beforehand, so I'm not sure how they'd feel back-to-back. But all the important echoes were there for me.

      Delete
  20. I SO want this book! It kills me to have to wait for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lin, ack. The waiting game is excruciating sometimes. Here's to summer arriving soon!

      Delete
  21. So, should I read "Persuasion" first, do you think? I know, I know... OF COURSE I should read it anyway (it's the only Austen I haven't gotten around to yet), but will I really miss out if I don't read it *beforehand*? Because I can easily bump it up on the TBR list. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Willow, lol. Yeah, you should definitely read it. I personally think FDStS can stand just fine on its own, but it is wonderful to be able to savor the similarities if you go into it already familiar with PERSUASION. So I'd probably opt for reading it first.

      Delete
  22. Oh wow, this sounds like a must have! I really really want to get my hands on this one, now! Fantastic review! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kay, thanks! I would definitely categorize it as a Must Have. :)

      Delete
  23. THIS: "I may have been predisposed to like Elliot, but the way my heart launched itself into my throat when hers did, the way my temper rose on her behalf, and the way I held my breath at her restraint and cheered her adamant refusal to be downtrodden . . . I more-than-liked Elliot."

    Now that I've read it myself... YES.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cecelia, *highfive*! SO glad you more-than-liked her, too.

      Delete
  24. I DEVOURED THIS BOOK (oh, by the way, this is Kate & Zena, the one that traveled from The Book Smugglers. There is only ONE OF ME. At least, last time I checked.) 10 hours is how long it took me to finish this book.

    And Elliot, I loved her. I loved how flawed she was over Tatiana. I loved how she hung all of Kai's gliders above his room in the barn. That was one of those parts when I nearly cried. She couldn't bare to throw them away so she hung them.

    And while there were times I wanted to beat the living crapola out of Kai (which my mind went a bit over-the-top imagining and I probably should peg his prettiness down a few degrees...but I won't for the sake of my sanity), I still love him. I wanted to do a lot of things to him actually. I called him lots of bad names not worth repeating in this comment either because I wanted him to kiss Elliot (which, did you notice, they never kissed? When the book ended, as much as I loved it, I wanted to throw it against my wall due to that fact. Where's the magical kissing moment????)

    By the way, what happened on page 117 again? Was the will part? I'm not one of those people who read by numbers. When a book is so good, I get the whole movie-theatre-sensory-theatre thing going on. I guess I'm not really "reading," I'm "watching a book."

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Angie's Best Books of 2016

Let's just lay our cards on the table, shall we, and agree that, on the whole, 2016 was an abysmal year.
And I'd just like to personally invite it not to let the door hit it on the way out.
This is me being as charitable as I can possibly be at this point. 
That said, I want to send a glorious shout out to the wonderful books that have come out this past year, and to all the authors (and readers) who have not given in to the anxiety, depression, anger, and fear that I know so many of us have felt throughout the past twelve months (or more). It is the last day of the year, and I have poured all of my gratitude (and hope for a better one to come) into my annual list of my favorite reads of the year. Just 17 this year. Fewer than the past few years, which indicates a healthy dose of necessary rereading in this year that has been what it was, as well as the fact that I just didn't get to as many new releases.


(in the order in which I read them)
The Thirteenth Earlby Evelyn Pry…

Cover Reveal + Q&A: A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White

As longtime readers of the blog know, I am a full-fledged Ellen Emerson White fangirl and have been for something going on time immemorial. What this means is that a few years ago, having just finished reading my local library's copy of The Road Homefor the second time in as many days, I sat on the couch, brandished the book at my newlywed husband, and told him I was seriously considering never returning it (my conscience did eventually kick in and I meekly returned the library copy—after managing to procure a copy of my own, naturally). 
What this means is I went on to purchase an obscene number of out of print copies of the same title(before it was available as an e-book) and proceeded to send them winging their way across the globe to homes where I knew they were needed. 
What this means is that I refer to Ms. White's characters by their first names in casual conversation (pretty much on a daily basis) with friends and family members, and they automatically know exactly wh…