A Review of For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund

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It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth–an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret–one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

– – – – –

Rating: 4/5 Stars (but let’s say 4.5, ‘kay?)

Quick Reasons: love, glorious love, wonderful beautiful heart-wrenching LOVE; no but really, I approve; awesome, complex characters; I changed my mind about a few of them more than once during the read; the fact that I was so angry and upset at one point, I was literally beating up my book; well-written, beautiful prose, loads of climax and suspense and hints of mystery; a worthy reimagining of Jane Austen

Okay, so. I haven’t read Persuasion – I know, I know, somebody lock me up! It’s blasphemy, a tragedy, how DARE I? But really—I’ve read (and loved) several other Jane Austen novels, so I pretty much already know the basis of the story. Right? Right. So let’s let this one slide, okay?

That being said, let’s get the review underway. I have to admit, when I first picked up this book and started reading, I LOATHED Kai. I could not understand how, being the admirable ASSHOLE he was, he could ever, EVER be even remotely considered the “love” interest for Elliot. I mean really. REALLY?! The guy was a jerk. A huge one. I was so upset, so angry and frustrated, at how he was treating Elliot, I was LITERALLY beating up my book. My husband threatened to take it away from me. The police were almost called in for a third-party hands to book break up. It wasn’t pretty.

I loathed him. I wanted to murder him. And then…for no apparent reason—about a hundred pages farther in—I somehow inexplicably was hit with ALL THE FEELINGS for him ever. Like… I JUST spent five minutes of my time threatening to rip your pages out, book. What the HELL are you even doing to me? In fact, I was so shocked at this, I took to twitter—and had an interesting conversation about this strange change of (heart?) with Diana Peterfreund herself. See the screenshot below if interested:

She was right, of course—her work is to take readers on a journey. A rollercoaster of emotion and adventure all in one neat little package…and she managed this spectacularly! The prose is absolutely gorgeous. She stays true to Jane Austen’s general “plot mountain” while still maintaining her own unique style and personal ideas. And most importantly, she took a character I couldn’t STAND…and made me care about him anyway. In my opinion, that’s one of the most difficult things to accomplish.

While not one of the most action-driven plots I’ve ever read, I didn’t find myself growing bored or skipping around looking for something to spice it up. The emotional drama, for me, was more than enough—heavy, heart-wrenching, and entirely realistic. The caustic relationship between Kai and Elliot in the present day, when juxtaposed by the sweet, innocent friendship that blossomed through the letters breaking up the chapters, reminded me of a few of my own past relationships. And through it all, Elliot remained true to herself—fighting for those who needed or deserved her friendship/respect, doing everything she could to keep the lives of those around her as normal and seamless as possible. She’s the kind of main character I strive, one day, to be myself—respectful, confident, and (if not completely at peace with herself) at least willing to accept change as it finds her.

By halfway through the book, I was an emotional wreck. Kai was still being sort of jerkish, Elliot was being bullied and pushed around by pretty much everybody, and I had a LOT of suspicion toward the newly brought home Uncle. I didn’t trust ANYbody. And I was loving it. I read this book in pretty much one sitting, so invested in the characters and their different complexities that I just could not make myself put it down—I HAD to know what happened. I HAD to know where it ended.

This book is beautifully written; the characters are complex, engaging, and often surprising; the plot is insightful and intense and left me thinking all at once. I highly recommend the read to lovers of Jane Austen; you won’t be disappointed, I promise!

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