Title: For Darkness Shows the Stars
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Published June 12th 2012 by Balzer + Bray
Source: Signed and finished copy received at BEA
Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, 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.
When I started For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, all that I knew about it was that it was a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Word had not yet reached me that it was science-fiction… or, more importantly, THAT IT WAS AWESOME.
But I am here to vouch for the fact that it is one awesome, sci-fi, dystopian-esque, Austenite retelling.
I found it a little confusing at first as the world and characters were set up, but I’m telling you, guys, if you’re reading For Darkness Shows the Stars or plan to read it, muscle your way past that because it is so SO worth it. Once you get it, the world clicks into place and the story becomes so textured and gorgeous.
I love the world that Diana Peterfreund constructed in For Darkness Shows the Stars and I think that that is a big part of what gives the story such an amazing feel. It’s the future, yes. And yes, it’s science fiction. But the society is constructed in a way that hearkens back to class systems of the old days with the Luddites playing the part of the nobility. Although, HOLLER for a society that isn’t totally patriarchal in this case because women can be Luddite lords just as easily as men.
And, as I said, I think that vibe of old-timey-ness, from the fashions to the fixations on titles and estates, is what gives such an authentic feel.
Also, Luddites? They believe in keeping things “as God intended.” That means basically no scientific improvements. Really, it means no progress. Diana Peterfreund carries that element of nature through with some of her gorgeous metaphors and descriptions. They’re made all the more effective by the fact that the North estate is a farm and thus even more tied to nature than some other Luddite estates might be.
So now we come to Elliot, the daughter of the Baron North. And guys? I adore Elliot. She’s got this great and passionate love in the form of one, Kai alias Malakai Wentforth, but her father and sister are terrible at running the land and taking care of the people on it. She indulges herself in her feelings– she’s only human, but she is so heartwrenchingly mature about the decisions she feels she must make for the good of others.
Further, Elliot is so conflicted because Luddite ideals are entering a stage for her when they don’t completely make sense. They have the tools for improvement, but the protocols have been put in place to keep them all safe… right? It’s heresy– it’s arrogance to think any other way.
And then… guys, then there is Kai. And he is so cold and standoffish to Elliot and it breaks my damn heart when I compare it to the letters (placed between chapters) that their younger selves exchanged. Their scenes have so much underlying tension that–
No lie, I just stopped typing to clutch at my heart. It’s that amazing.
Now. I have not yet read Persuasion. HOWEVER. Diana Peterfreund executed her version of the story so beautifully in For Darkness Shows the Stars that I’m adding it to my classics must-read list.
Overall rating: 5/5. For Darkness Shows the Stars is a positively gorgeous retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with superb language and layered characters.