For Darkness Shows The Stars Diana Peterfreund Book Review

If you buy one book based on my recommendations in 2012, let For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund be it. Friends, this book pierces my soul. I took my sweet time with this read, because I feel there’s a disservice if you read it in one big gulp instead of taking time to emote and process those feelings. Diana Peterfreund retells Jane Austen’s Persuasion in post-apocalyptic fashion.

For Darkness Shows The Stars Diana Peterfreund Book Cover

For Darkness Shows The Stars

The world that main character Elliot North lives in is stuck. Elliot is a Luddite, who are people exactly like the Luddites of 19th Century English history – afraid of technology, change and innovation. She is between a rock and a hard place – bound to her duty to take care of the farm estate because her power hungry father Baron North and flighty, image obsessed older sister Tatiana won’t do it. Yet, Elliot years for something more. When a group of Posts (read the book to know this term) ask to rent her grandfather’s shipyard, an old friend/love walks back into Elliot’s life under a new name bringing old pain with him. Elliot must then question her values and all she’s ever known.

Elliot North is a character who kept me anxious. I was so invested in her arc, that I was literally scared to turn the pages out of trepidation for what would happen to her. I was indigent on her behalf quite often. The reason for this is that to me, Elliot is very likeable. She’s self-sacrificing to fault and very rational. She cares very deeply for her people, which is actually often to her detriment. Diana Peterfreund has such a way with words and conveys Elliot’s pain so that it strikes you right at the heart. Yet, the hope I felt for her situation to get better and improve kept pervading.

“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.”

pg. 166

I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the romance. Elliot was once very close with Kai, one of her estate’s Posts. Kai left after Elliot’s mother dies, inviting Elliot to go with him. She remains at home carrying the torch for him. When Kai returns with the Cloud Fleet, he’s a different man and a new name – Captain Malakai Wentforth. Captain Wentforth is cold to Elliot, inflicting emotional pain on her.

Yet, interspersed between the chapters are letters that tell us another story – a story of love, questioning, and friendship. They tell a story of two young kids inhabiting different classes and different worlds who want to escape their societal bonds, who look to the stars to char their way.

See, Kai didn’t win me over at first. I thought he was fairly abhorrent towards Elliot, whom I cared deeply about and was invested in. But as the real Kai, the past Kai was revealed in his letters, I began to understand exactly why he made the choices he did as well as his treatment of Elliot.

There are so many obstacles in the way in For Darkness Shows The Stars and such a long, languid build to the ending and ultimate payoff. If you’ve read or know the gist of Persuasion by Jane Austen you know the ending and you know about the letter. Both appear in For Darkness Shows The Stars, the letter making me sob with emotion and joy and feeling the flutter within of a perfect resolution.

For Darkness Shows The Stars left me pondering class, change and the meaning of the book beyond the romance. We see the estates of the Island where the book takes place — where there are Luddites who are the ruling class, the Reduced who are basically the slave class and are low functioning and the Posts who are children of the Reduced but highly functioning. We see the Luddites are deeply afraid of change and technology and innovation because of the tragedy it unleashed many years ago. Why should the Luddites be guardians of the Reduced as though it is their burden? Also as the Posts are cognizant how is it okay to keep them in servitude? How do they justify that? We see the Posts who chafe at being second class citizens, who wish to stretch their wings and create.  One ends up questioning and wondering while reading whether we are meant to innovate and stretch our boundaries and change or would that mean we as humans are playing at being God?

Diana Peterfreund’s latest is a book I will carry inside me for a very long time. For Darkness Shows The Stars is a story that seeps into your bones, that puts questions in your brain, causing you to examine it on a deeper level. To me, it has accomplished all of the things I want a YA book I am reading to do — it made me care, made me think and most of all it made me swoon.

Disclosure: Received for review.

Other reviews of For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund:

The Book Swarm – “A star-crossed love if there ever was one.

Pure Imagination – “With every chapter it made me fall for it even more.

Janicu’s Book Blog – “things are bound to go off script. And they do, in the best way

Anna Reads – “My heart is still recovering.

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. okay, I am sold. tomorrow when I get paid, I am buying this book.

  2. This book sounds absolutely gorgeous. I’m a big fan girl for Jane Austen and because this book is based on a novel for hers, I have this feeling I’m going to absolutely love it.

  3. sounds so good! A Jane Austen retelling? Yes!! Thanks for the review, April!

  4. I loved this one so much. It was like a breath of fresh air. Fabulous review!

  5. I love Persuasion. The letter scene is always my favorite part. I am glad that Diana Peterfreund kept it in this retelling. I just bought For Darkness Shows the Stars but I am forcing myself to wait to read it till I go on vacation next month. I may even get a copy of Persuasion to reread too.

    Your review is excellent! I am glad that the book has so much depth to it and that you connected emotionally with the characters too. Captain Wentworth is one of my favorite Jane Austen heroes and I hope Malakai Wentforth can live up to that!

    • I actually haven’t read Persuasion, but as a fan of books, I know the basic gist of it and all about the letter. I hope you absolutely fall for it while you are on vacation.

      I was very emotionally invested in For Darkness Shows The Stars, and I think a large part of that is because of all Elliot takes on, care for her estate and all. I like that kind of responsibility in a character.

  6. I didn’t realise this was inspired by Persuasion! O_O

    Buying it right this second! Excellent review April 🙂

  7. What an awesome review! I recently started this book and absolutely love it! I think this going to be one of this years must have books.

  8. Wow! What an awesome review. I am completely convinced that I need to read this book this summer. Persuasion is one of my favorite Austen novels, so I am glad that it worked in this retelling.

  9. Alyssa Susanna says

    I didn’t read Persuasion, but I literally JUST finished this book yesterday, and I LOVED it!!!!! Everyone go read it!!!
    Thanks for the review!

    Alyssa <3

  10. This seriously is one of the best reviews I’ve read yet from you! I’m so happy you enjoyed this one so much. It sounds really fantastic and I’ll definitely take your advice on it!

  11. Even just THINKING about this book makes my heart hurt. I love it so.

  12. This sounds great! I love Persuasion! I’ll definitely check it out! Thanx for the review!

  13. Persuasion is my absolutely favorite Austen, and I just added this book because of your review because I do NOT usually read ‘retellings’. Bravo!

  14. Great review! I so can’t wait to read this, I really want to go out and buy it but alas a broke person waits patiently for the library. Persuasion is one of my all time favorite books so I’m glad to see that this book was good!

  15. YES.

    Oh my yes.

  16. I think you hit it spot-on, especially with this phrase: “it made me care, made me think and most of all it made me swoon.” LOVED this book.

  17. If YOU liked it… and it IS based on an Austen novel… I might just have to read it.

  18. I LOVED THIS BOOK. Love. When I came to the end, I nearly cried because I was so invested in the characters and that world that I didn’t want to leave. A total book hangover.

  19. Basically– YES to everything in this review. The “long, languid build” that you described was just– perfect. So perfect. It became a new favorite the instant I closed the cover.

  20. I am so very excited about this one; I’ve only read historical and contemporary retellings of Austen novels so this futuristic one will be really different. Everything I’ve heard about it makes it sound just like the kind of book I’ll love.

  21. Obviously I needed to read this yesterday.

  22. This book sounds so good!
    😀 And I’m glad you liked it so much! I can’t wait to get my paws all over it 😀

  23. I agree that this book was amazing

  24. Hmmm, you’re the reason I bought Code Name Verity (and totally gave you credit for that in my IMM today), so I suppose I shall have to listen to you and get this one now. Word.

  25. Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide says

    Cripes I need this!

  26. WANT. I want more Jane Austen inspired YA books.

  27. This is such an amazing book and your review does it justice! I too was invested in Elliot’s story from the very beginning and that always signals a good book to me. Of course, part of my adoration for the book could come from the fact that Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen and never receives the attention I believe it deserves. Peterfreund just did an fabulous job adapting the story of Persuasion to a science fiction/dystopian setting. I can’t wait to see what she does next!


  1. […] I missed this one at BEA because N. K. Jemisin’s signing was at the same time, but I bought a copy. A science fiction retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion sounded pretty intriguing, and I have been hearing over and over again how good it is. […]

  2. […] April at Good Books and Good Wine: If you buy one book based on my recommendations in 2012, let For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund be it. Friends, this book pierces my soul. I took my sweet time with this read, because I feel there’s a disservice if you read it in one big gulp instead of taking time to emote and process those feelings. Diana Peterfreund retells Jane Austen’s Persuasion in post-apocalyptic fashion. […]

  3. […] really read any of the reviews on it that came up on my blog feed. Until I read April’s from Good Book and Good Wine, suddenly realised weeks after the rest of the world that it was a post-apocolyptic Persuasion and […]

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