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.
Format: Overdrive e-book
Why I Chose It: This book definitely got my attention by claiming to be an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I was also really curious about the world described on the cover of the book.
The introduction to this book where we meet Elliot and learn about her world is very smooth and flawless. Elliot is a likeable character from the beginning, and I enjoyed the fact that she cares so much about the people around her. The power struggle between her and her father is shown right away, and I loved how strong this opening scene was. It introduces the world, creates the political structure, and gave me a very quick and concise understanding of the world that Elliot lives in.
The fact that Peterfreund creates such a strong foundation for her world is only further reflected in the strength of her writing throughout the novel. She is able to quickly establish a world and then build on those ideals, creating a complex place with multiple power structures, a difficult economy, and a rigid social structure. Yet this novel is first and foremost a romance, and Peterfreund is able to carefully manipulate the details of her story to keep the focus on the romance story line. I love that she is able to create such an in-depth world and balance the many elements, and yet carefully executes the storytelling to guide the focus of the story exactly where it should be.
I have not read many adaptations of Austen’s work, and I haven’t been enthusiastic about the ones I have read, but I really enjoyed Peterfreund’s novel. I think this one worked for me because Peterfreund works hard to establish her own world with its own complex history, and yet flawlessly layers it with distinct Persuasion moments. I loved that I could be reading such an interesting novel and then be able to point out a moment and say “That! That’s Persuasion.” Yet nothing was ever forced or felt out of place – the adaptation moments fit so seamlessly into the novel that a person who had never read Persuasion would never know the difference. The novel simply feels natural, and it creates treasured moments of discovery for those who do know the original work.
Finally, I feel I need to comment on the novel title – I adore this title. The story actually references this sentiment more than once, and with different characters in different situations. Plus as a reader, just thinking of the title For Darkness Shows the Stars brings up so many good memories from this book. I don’t know if I have ever read a book with such a perfect title, that fits both the story events and the sentiment within the story so well.
This was one of those novels that was incredibly enjoyable to read, and left me with a really good feeling at the end. While it wasn’t outright perfect – as with most romances, there were moments I wanted to shake my fist at the characters and tell them to stop being so stubborn – it was still a wonderful journey. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys dystopian romances or Jane Austen adaptations.
Rating: 4 / 5
“She still loved the man who called himself Malakai Wentworth. She knew that. But that didn’t matter, just as it hadn’t mattered four years ago. Then, she’d chosen to stay behind. But it didn’t mean she wasn’t curious. It didn’t mean she didn’t want to stand at the edge of the cliffs and stretch her face out toward the sea, toward a world she’d never be allowed to know.” (Overdrive, 1st ed. 2012)
“Had he hated her the day her mother died? Had he hated her the day after? No. She refused to believe it. Hating her now was bad enough, but she could survive it. She’d been doing well these past four years, like a fallen tree that clung to the ground and continued to grow, despite all odds. Elliot’s roots were buried deep, and nothing Kai could say would convince her that the soil was any less solid.” (Overdrive, 1st ed. 2012)
“Elliot threw her arms wide, feeling the wind slapping against her skin as they drove towards the beach. […] She could smell the sea in the air, but more than that, she could smell the scent of the grass as it awoke from its winter slumber. She could hear the sound of crickets as they sang to the emerging stars. It was springtime on the North Island. It was springtime for the world.” (Overdrive, 1st ed. 2012)