Review – For Darkness Shows the Stars
  • Posted:
  • April 4, 2012
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Before I get into the meat of this review I would like to take a moment to thank Diana Peterfreund for writing this incredible book. Thanks Diana, for retelling a story that I love while I don’t actually enjoy reading Jane Austen novels. Thanks for adapting it in such a way that made this non-Austen-ite cry at the end and for several moments afterwards. Thank you for revamping it in such a way that made me care with my entire heart and soul what happened to these characters. Thank you for taking an old, familiar tale and making it new.

Thank you

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a book I have been looking forward to for some time. When I saw that it was going to be a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion I jumped up and down with delight. I love Persuasion but, like I said earlier, I don’t love reading it. I am sadly not a fan of reading Jane Austen’s prose. It’s picky, picky, picky… and I’ve tried reading 4 of her 6 books to no success… I’m more of a Bronte girl. I have, however, seen numerous film adaptations of all of her books. This one is probably my favourite of the 6 she wrote. I have a friend at work who agrees with me in one crucial Austen film fandom moment – The BBC film version of Persuasion from 1995, with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, is stunning… so much so that it’s better than the infamous BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth). We tell this to customers just to watch their jaws drop… and boy do they drop.

So, naturally at one point I got an early copy… and I jumped up and down… but my anticipation came at a cost. Could this book really be as good as I wanted it to be? As good as I knew it could be? I adore Peterfreund’s Killer Unicorns series, so I already knew she was a good writer (write another unicorn book, please!) but it’s the matter of changing that story into this one… Can Persuasion really be turned into a YA book that will hold an audience?

It can, and it has. I’ve read a dozen retelling books so far this year. This and Masque of the Red Death are the successful ones. This one, in fact, is a perfect book.

The story centers on a failing estate in a patch of islands. Elliot North has been running the estate despite her father’s neglectful interference. His whims threaten to ruin the estate and Elliot is constantly at her wits end in order to work around  his decisions. When an opportunity presents itself that may save the farms Elliot snatches it, renting out part of the property to a group of shipbuilders called the Cloud Fleet. The Cloud Fleet are comprised of Posts, free people who challenge the North’s Luddite principles. The Luddites arose in power after the Reduction, a genetic experiment that failed and wiped out much of the human population. The Luddites founding beliefs are to shun technology and to do things in the older, less efficient ways. The Posts have embraced something completely different.

With the Posts come a young man from Elliot’s past, Captain Malakai Wentforth, a mechanic in Cloud Fleet. Malakai used to be a young boy named Kai from the North estate, and Elliot has been in love with him for years. Four years ago he fled the estate and tried to convince Elliot to come with him. Four years ago she declined. Is four years enough time to let go of your first love, even a love that flies in the face of everything you believe?

This book is stunning. Peterfreund seamlessly weaves the old story of Persuasion with the new. If the reader doesn’t know the story they will not be lost at anytime in the narrative. The things that she has added to flesh this out, to make it a YA post-apocalyptic story, are simply wonderful – genetic experiments gone wrong, technology vs. simplicity, old vs. new, faith vs. fact… I could go on and on. Just trust me when I say that you need to read this… That it is as wonderful as I say it is. Just please, for the love of YA, please let it be a standalone book. It’s perfect as it is… please don’t stretch it out. That would really do a disservice to the core story of Persuasion.

5 out of 5 stars.

– BP

* For Darkness Shows the Stars will be released June 12, 2012. Please do not ask to borrow my copy.



2012-06-30 23:51:18 Reply

This book is incredible and I wouldn’t have bought it if it wasn’t for your review. I don’t want to put it down, but I must! Curse you life for interrupting my reading!