Down Comes the Night
by Allison Saft
e-ARC, 400 pages
Published March 2nd 2021 by Wednesday Books
A gorgeously gothic, deeply romantic YA debut fantasy about two enemies trapped inside a crumbling mansion, with no escape from the monsters within.
Honor your oath, destroy your country.
Wren Southerland is the most talented healer in the Queen’s Guard, but her reckless actions have repeatedly put her on thin ice with her superiors. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate to cure his servant from a mysterious disease, she seizes the chance to prove herself.
When she arrives at Colwick Hall, Wren realizes that nothing is what it seems. Particularly when she discovers her patient is actually Hal Cavendish, the sworn enemy of her kingdom.
As the snowy mountains make it impossible to leave the estate, Wren and Hal grow closer as they uncover a sinister plot that could destroy everything they hold dear. But choosing love could doom both their kingdoms.
Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched, gothic, romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.
I received an eARC from publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in anyway.
I’ve been sitting on this review for a couple days as I’ve been dissatisfied with what I was writing, but today I finally got it! I’m going to try something new in which I listed all the things the blurb promised me and see how I feel about them. After all, I picked this book because I was lured by its potential, right? 😉
Snow drenched gothic setting
First of all, the setting. I love dark wintry setting and what I read here do met my expectations! We first met Colwick Hall, the reclusive manor high on the mountains that become the stage for this book, on a journey that reminded me to Dracula: on a carriage at night, passing village and carriageman who avoided the house like a plague and arriving to an almost empty Hall with no illumination. The fact that the setting was high up on a snowy mountain was not forgotten by the author to build the atmosphere, from freezing temperature, chilling winds, even snowstorm. It was amazing.
However, the “gothic” part is where the book was lacking. The Hall was dark and have mysterious noises, but that was it. I think part of it tied with the fact that we know something fishy is going on with Lord Lowry (the owner) from the beginning, that never once we thought that there are anything supernatural going on nor the atmosphere of suspense hold out for long.
Enemies to lovers romance
This element also delivered! Both Wren and Hal were from opposite sides of war and throughout both countries, Hal was known and feared for his ability to kill Wren’s sides. Their first meeting were not romantic, but they both grew and developed together throughout the story. I love how they made each other better and try to understand each other, but what I love the most is that they did not try to change each other. Hal made Wren embrace who she was, feelings and all. Meanwhile, Hal was already on the road to redemption but Wren was the one who made Hal have some forgiveness for himself and made him believe he could better Vesria, instead of the no-plan he had.
What makes the intrigue “less” for me was due to Wren’s strong empathy and curiosity, she would (in my opinion), always be open to listen to Hal’s story eventually. There’s no question ever that Wren would try and kill Hal, so despite the author attempts to generate internal conflict in Wren, I never felt the “will they won’t they” period for the romance.
“Sinister plot that could destroy everything they hold dear”
The plot was certainly sinister and the villain was cunning and had some solid motive. However, the resolution… was not. I was highly certain that a certain twist was going to happen to complicate the story, but it wasn’t and I was sorely disappointed because it was quite logical and more action packed way to achieve the ending 😬 I think the plot just wasn’t tight enough in general as this book is mainly a romance, then a fantasy. Hence why a huge chunk of the book was dedicated to the romantic development and the resolution was written the way it did…
Other elements in the book I’d like to comment on:
🖤 A lot of people already said this, but I think Wren and Hal are refreshing protagonists. Lately in YA we all seemed to have endless protagonist that fell into the “conceal don’t feel” category, especially the “strong female characters” who seemed to have to bury all sorts of feelings in order to appear strong. As a healer, Wren is connected to the suffering around her and her heightened sense of empathy come with the side effects that she’s often seen as too soft. Meanwhile, Hal is also very in touch with his emotions and doesn’t conceal his feelings of remorse. I like how open both of them are with their feelings and instead of seeing it as weaknesss, it became they strength.
🖤 On the flip side, this makes character like Una seems heartless and aggressive for the way she always hide her feelings. I’m happy that all three of them are learning and unlearning some of their ways, but I feel bad with the way Una was portrayed and I was really rooting for her happiness 😥
🖤 And while I do wholeheartedly agree with the overarching message being “feelings are not weaknesses”, I also not 100% agree with everything Wren has done 😅 The problem, at least for me, it’s not that Wren is too soft- it’s that she’s too naive at times and doesn’t have any precautions. Like for instance, she could heal the boy without uncuffing him. Or she could put him to sleep while she’s working if it’s absolutely necessary for her to uncuff him. Same thing happened with Hal later on, she trusted him waay to easily. And the pattern continues for many instances later. For someone who has grown up surrounded by war and even went to the field, shouldn’t she have some sort of self-preservation?
🖤 Other problems were sorted out waay to easily at the end. I wish the issue with Isabel wasn’t resolved that easily and I would love to see how the 3 countries would handle the aftermath of the plot. I just wish we got a more fleshed out and less abrupt ending, especially since the plot had such a high stakes for Danu and Vesria.
Overall, Down Comes the Night contains all the elements it promised us on the blurb, even more. However, despite enjoying the story, I find that aside from the romance, none of the elements hit all the right mark for me. The atmosphere wasn’t as dark as I imagined; the plot wasn’t tight enough, focused waay too much on the romance, and took an easier turn; and the ending was too abrupt. It’s a great debut that certainly make me keep an eye on the author’s future works!