Review: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Book Title/Author: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Publisher/Year: : Balzar + Bray – June 2012
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Science Fiction
Series: No – standalone!
Other Books From Author: Rampant & Ascendant (killer unicorns!) & Secret Society Girl

Amazon| Goodreads | Diana Peterfreund’s Website

The Story: For Darkness Shows The Stars is set in a world that is living in the aftermath of botched genetic experiments on humankind which resulted in the Reduction — a phenomena that caused people to be “Reduced” and caused the Luddite nobility to reject all technology and want things to go back to the way they believed God intended it to be. They believed that the Reduced people were God’s way of punishing mankind for trying to mess around with science and play God. As time moved on, children were being born that were not “Reduced” and they began to reject their position as Reduced people and seek progress. Eliot North is a Luddite in charge of her Father’s estate. As a child she fell in love with Kai, a Post-Reduced that worked on her estate, but refused to run away with him when he wanted to forge a better life. Years later, as her Estate is crumbling & out of a desperate need for money, she rents out her grandfather’s home to a famous Captain and his shipbuilders who are known to be a bit more progressive than the Luddites.

The Review: GOOD LAWD. This is one of those books I went into reading knowing very little (at the insistence of Anna) and came out feeling like I found a gem amidst a very crowded market of paranormal creatures, love triangles & dystopians who promise a unique world.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all of those things. I do. But every once in a while I find something that feels wholly unique and stands out among the crowd and I want to hold it high above the rest. It was this freaking epic mix of romantical, science fictiony/post apocalytpic GOODNESS. I had no idea.

I was a little nervous to read this as it is a inspired by/kind of a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which I have not yet read, so I was afraid I’d be confused. Fortunately you do NOT need to read it to understand and appreciate the story but I DO feel, as I’ve talked to people who have read both, feel it would greatly enhance your reading experience.

I’ll admit in the beginning it was SO HARD TO FOLLOW. I kept getting stuck on who the Luddites, Reduced & Posts were and why they were that way. But after I kept going (which I urge you to do!) I found myself wholly immersed in the story of Eliot & Kai and desperately hungry to learn more about this world.

Eliot & Kai’s relationship was so tragic and just one of those crazy tensioned filled ones that had me just firmly gripping the book and hoping I could will them together with some crazy book lover voodoo or something. Their love was so beautiful and innocent as children but Eliot’s fear of the unknown and what would happen if she didn’t adhere to the Luddite ways held her back and it was so, so sad. I understood that, since she grew up only knowing the Luddite ways, and understood her sense of duty to her estate and all the people who worked there knowing how they would be treated if left to her sister and father. This made me love her, because she was so noble, but I hurt for her so bad. And then when Kai comes back into her life, my heart just BROKE for her and his coldness collided into my own heart. I COULD NOT TAKE IT! All that tension. All  that pent up anger. AH. But then there would be a glimmer of that love that could just make my little heart swoon. And THOSE LETTERS. They reduced me to my high school self melting into a pile of ooey gooey romantical feelings on my bed and sobbing to ALL OF THE LOVE SONGS because I want a boy who writes me letters and makes me FEEL ALL OF THE FEELINGS. I just cared so much for both of them.

The world was just so unlike anything. There’s this mix of science fiction but yet most of the world feelings like you are feeling like it’s something straight out of Amish country. The hierarchy of the Luddites and the Reduced/Posts was so fascinating. The descriptions. ALL OF IT.  I could picture the estate and the surrounding scenes of nature. It was written so phenomenally — one of those books where the world starts swirling off the pages and begins to be a motion picture in my mind. There were some things  I wished were explained a little better about the world and I thought at the end I wasn’t so sure how Eliot completely reconciled what she learned about Kai so quickly but I got over that just fine.


While I haven’t read Persuasion, I do feel, having read other Austen novels, that Diana Peterfruend captured all of the swoon-inducing romance and extremely layered characterization (and holla for an awesome female heroine!) that a Jane Austen novel delivers. The writing is just gorgeous and flawless and the characters are those that find their way off the pages and into your heart. So very unique! So very heartbreaking and beautiful. So utterly mesmerizing. One of my favorites of the year! Rushing to read Persuasion because I need to meet the man, the myth and the legend that is Captain Wentworth.

Recommends For Lovers Of: Austen retellings, unique & slow building stories with gut-wrenching romantic tension, beautiful writing, a mix of science fiction/post-apocalyptic/dystopian goodness


Let’s talky talk: Have you read this book? Is it on your radar? If you read it and also have read Persuasion, what do you think I missed from the experience having not read it? Any other Austen retellings I should know about?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. So, I’ve been wanting to read this one, but haven’t really made any conscientious effort to do so. MUST. DO. SO. NOW!!! You really make it sound amazing and MUST. READ. NOW! I haven’t read any Austen (I know, bad blogger!) but I do love the stories, so anything that’s a retelling I enjoy. Great review!

  2. Great review! I also just read this book. Although I thought it was really good, I wasn’t blown away – it didn’t change my life. Maybe that’s because I just finished some truly fantastic paranormal/fantasy YA novels like Finnikin of the Rock and even the Daughter of Smoke and Bone which I loved loved loved. Have you read those? Curious to see how you think they all compare.

    • It’s always interesting how what I previously read affects what I’m currently reading. I was in a slump reading kind of MEH books before I read this one. I haven’t read either of those but DoSaB is on my TBR list. I’ll have to check out Finnikin of the Rock!

  3. Oh, I’m glad you loved this one! It’s so gratifying to see people who aren’t Austen fanatics or sci-fi fiends get into the story and the world and find something that they love that is totally different than their ‘normal.’ Having read Persuasion many times, I recommend it, but be aware that it’s a quiet read, and the world is very ‘Austen.’ Swoony, but in a classic way.

    • I love slow reads & romances that are “swoony but in a classic way” so this makes me veryyy excited!! I wish I would have read Persuasion before I read this one but for some reason I just never got around to that one.

  4. I feel SO MUCH BETTER now that you have read this. Swoooooon!

  5. I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS!!!! That is all.

  6. One of my faves for 2012! I agree about the beginning, but it is so worth it to hang in there! I was afraid when I recc’ed it to my friends that they would start it and flounce, but they all kept with it and agreed it was amazing. I haven’t read Persuasion but it made me want to. Great review! 🙂

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

  7. I admit, when I read the blurb I wasn’t sold (in fact, I’m still not really). But then the ENDLESS amounts of amazing reviews kept flying around the blogospere and I started to become intrigued. This doesn’t sound like my usual read but this is one of those time I’m just going to take a leap of faith and JUMP. Because you know what? Although I’m not all that interested and the blurb hasn’t exactly won me over, I have THE feeling that this will be amazingamazingamazing.

    Jamie? This review? BRILLIANT. This proves my point that I must check this out – and soon!

  8. Wow, what a wonderful and convincing review!! Lol, I think I never used the word convincing in a review comment :)) But, I have been kind of indecisive about this book, but your enthusiasm totally made me once again aware of this book!

  9. I looooved this book!

  10. I haven’t read Persuasion yet, but I do love Austen books 🙂 I think Peterfreund did an amazing job capturing Austen’s voice which I really appreciate 🙂 Great review!

    Anna @ Literary Exploration

  11. Great review! I am so, so eager to read For Darkness Shows the Stars while Persuasion is fresh in my mind. Although my favorite Austen romance will always be Elizabeth and Darcy, Anne and Wentworth’s is utterly fantastic. I have a thing for lovers who must deal with so many obstacles and failed opportunities before they get their happily-ever-after. I’m eager to see how this relationship was translated to a YA dystopian/sci fi book. From what you’ve written, it sounds as though Peterfreund matched Anne Elliot’s characterization to a T with Eliot. I hope so! I’d definitely recommend reading Persuasion as soon as you can so you can compare!

  12. This book sounds really good! I didn’t know it was a retelling of Persuasion. Oh and I really love how you do the review on a post it. Neat way to sum everything up!

  13. Oh my goodness gracious Jamie. THIS BLOG POST.

    I’ve had this book since forever and wanted to read it, I really have. Because THAT COVER. So pretty, right? But I honestly just thought it was a re-telling and that is why I didn’t rush off to read it. Then I read a brilliant blog post about it by Lauren on her blog Love Is Not A Triangle and it made me super interested. And NOW THIS.

    I am literally going to rearrange my books. Because I have my books in an order. And now I am going to shuffle the order around a bit. GAH I love when I visit a blog and it makes me do that! Thank youuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!! This really sounds fantastic.

  14. From the cover, I wouldn’t expect this to be an Austen retelling, but ever since I found that out I’ve been excited about this book. Can’t wait to read it!

  15. This sounds absolutely lovely! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy and read it. I love that it’s a Jane Austen retelling of sorts, and can’t wait to explore that world you mention for myself!

  16. I just finished this one. OH MAN. Elliot and Kai’s relationship was EPIC. Sometimes I could hardly stand the tension! I did feel like the ending was a bit rushed…the pacing did not match the rest of the story. I would definitely be interested in a sequel to this!

  17. “Eliot & Kai’s relationship was so tragic and just one of those crazy tensioned filled ones that had me just firmly gripping the book and hoping I could will them together with some crazy book lover voodoo or something.” <—- LOVE this!

    I absolutely adored this book. Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel. Anne Eliott is my favorite Austen heroine. Captain Wentworth (sigh. swoon. perish.) is my favorite Austen hero. Peterfreund did this book exactly right. It's not a copycat. It stands on it's own and you definitely do not have to read Persuasion to get it or enjoy it. It's definitely more like a love letter to Austen, in my opinion. I loved how Peterfreund fleshed out some of the characters a little bit more for her novel. They both were and were not the same characters from Persuasion, and I love it!

    I could honestly go on and on about both of these books, but I'll spare you for now… Hope you enjoy Persuasion!

  18. Standalone? THEN I MUST GET THIS NOW! I’ll revisit your review after I read it (since I’ll go into it not knowing anything like Anna suggested.)

  19. Leticia (@osoordinary) says:

    You just make this sound so incredibly amazing! Must read ASAP! = ) “a motion picture in my mind.” Who doesn’t want to experience that?! Thoroughly enjoying sifting through your reviews!

  20. Welp, you’ve sold me on this one. Don’t know how I haven’t looked into it yet as it sounds AMAZING


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