for darkness shows the stars

Here’s something that will surprise exactly no one: my favorite Jane Austen novel is Persuasion.  I may have mentioned it a couple of times on the blog (not obsessed at all…).  It has been my favorite Austen book ever since I read it during my freshman year of college.  I reread it regularly, and I think Anne and Captain Wentworth’s story is not only timeless, but that with its inner tension and repressed desire, the romance is absolutely swoon-worthy.

We’ve established my longtime love of Persuasion.  When I heard that Diana Peterfreund was writing a sci-fi retelling of my Austen favorite, I might have flipped out.  Danced around the room?  Definitely had a huge grin on my face.  To quote myself from a ‘Waiting on’ Wednesday post, “It’s going to be SO GOOD! And you don't even know how tempted I am to use multiple exclamation points there.”  Without further ado: For Darkness Shows the Stars.

for darkness shows the stars by diana peterfreund book coverGenerations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced 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 Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—one that could change the society in which they live…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 has 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.

A post-apocalyptic world that was decimated generations ago by genetic-level malfunction (and then worldwide warfare) is now ruled in name by the Luddite community, who shun technology and innovation as the cause of humanity's downfall.  Elliot North is born into that world a Luddite, given a privileged upbringing and education, and handed far more responsibility than she is ready to handle.  Her best friend Kai was born a servant and worked long hours on the North estate.  When Elliot refused to run away with him Kai left on his own, and now, several years later, he has returned to the estate – but not to Elliot, and not as Kai.  What follows is a deeply romantic story of redemption, forgiveness, and unlooked-for progress that might just tear a society apart.

Better to get it out in the open: if you’ve read Persuasion, you know how this ends.  But that doesn’t make the journey, or Diana Peterfreund’s prose, any less wondrous.  Peterfreund has developed a reputation for writing nuanced female characters who face unimaginable challenges.  In Elliot, I think she has created her best heroine yet – a girl who is bound by responsibility but pines for passion, who is unappreciated by her peers but continues to do what is RIGHT.  It’s not that she’s miraculous or angelic – she’s just doing the best she can in a strange, fractured world.

The story’s focus on thought life lends itself to descriptions of the characters’ pent-up emotion and their mingled misery and hope.  For Darkness Shows the Stars is full of that, but it never loses itself in the description, nor does the pace or tension lag.  The narrative is broken up in parts by letters and notes passed between Elliot and Kai over the years, but these add to the story, providing important ‘flashbacks’ and insight into the characters’ pasts, revealing the patterns and prejudices that shape their personalities.

Peterfreund’s sci-fi is thin on science but heavy on the consequences of that science (definition: post-apocalyptic).  Her descriptions of life in a Luddite-ruled world are both detailed and chilling, and remind the reader that humans are both good AND evil.  When you’re in the midst of reading it will feel too possible.  In all, I believe that For Darkness Shows the Stars is a masterfully written novel that explores the nature of love, duty and evolution, while showing that true feeling will find a way to survive.

Recommended for: fans of the Jane Austen original, Anne Osterlund’s Academy 7, and anyone with a soft spot for extremely well-written sci-fi/fantasy that seethes with romantic tension while at the same time exploring themes of future, ethics, duty, and hanging onto the past at the expense of the present.

Fine print: I received a signed, finished copy of For Darkness Shows the Stars from the publisher for review at Book Expo America.  


Chey said...

Thanks so much for the giveaway! I'm just dying to read this one. :D

Sara @ Forever 17 Books said...

I am so in love with this book! Thank you so much for a chance to win a signed copy!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

The second I saw it was inspired by Persuasion I knew I had to read it. It's my Fav Austen as well!

Liviania said...

Haha, I'd definitely love to win a signed copy! This is already one of my favorite books.

And "seethes with romantic tension" is a perfect description.

Anonymous said...

Confession time: I've never actually read Persuasion (or any Jane Austen). Still, I am super excited to read For Darkness Shows the Stars and I'm glad to hear the characters and world-building are engaging. This review just made me more anxious to start reading!

Becky Wallace said...

Holy crap!! This sounds so awesome. Thanks for hosting a great contest!

Evie said...

I can't wait to read this book! That cover is gorgeous!
Thanks a lot for the giveaway :)

Cecelia said...

Chey & Sarabara082: You are very welcome!

Melissa: I know exactly how you feel!

Liviania: Yay!

thekams: You don't need to have read Persuasion at all - in fact, I think you'll love it all the same without any knowledge of the Austen original. It's just... SO GOOD.

Becky: It is. THAT good, I mean. Find a copy even if you don't win - it's worth it!

Alyce said...

I haven't heard of this one before, but it sounds just like something I'd love. :)

Sullivan McPig said...

You always find books with such amazing covers!

Melanie said...

It "seethes with romantic tension"? Oh my goodness, I have to read this.

You have excellent taste. Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel as well. :)

April (BooksandWine) said...

I really LOVED For Darkness Shows The Stars but have not yet read Persuasion or Academy 7 and will have to give both a shot, as you recommend them.

I like what you said about how Elliot isn't angelic but just doing the best with what she's been given. I absolutely agree with that assessment.

Bridget Howard said...

I cant wait to read this book I am also a huge fan of Persuasion so when I heard this book was based on it I knew I had to read it!!!!

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