I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: standalone
He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.
Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.
The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.
With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.
Love makes monsters of us all.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
DOWN COMES THE NIGHT is an atmospheric book in a world undergoing an industrial revolution but clinging to its past as war ravages the borders and a slow-burn romance threatens to change the world.
As is often the case with me, stunning world building is what gets me most hooked onto a book. I loved the dichotomy between the magic and the religion at its heart, and the industrial revolution. We don’t get to see much of it as it’s in the background of Wren heading to the neighbouring country, but it’s so subtly pervasive that you can feel that this is a world on the brink of everything changing, and that two of the three countries are trying to hold it back. There is electricity being installed, a river turned to acidic sludge, and thick smog in the air, but all balanced with magic.
The magic itself has a very scientific feel to it, as the main magic we see is a healing magic that’s paired with Wren’s medical training. The injuries she heals are described from the exact names of the bones and muscle groups, knitting together (the technical terms stop it being overly graphic, but I winced at some of the injuries.)
It is very atmospheric – a gothic mansion isolated in the snowy mountains, mixed with an edge-of-steampunk mystery some Frankenstein for good measure. Trapped by storms, eerie noises creaking around the house, odd rules, and two men you can never be sure how much to trust. It’s a book to read wrapped in blankets and with the lights on!
Slow-burn romance is my favourite sort. I suppose, given the time-scale of the book, it’s not really “slow”, but given the pacing and how the characters act on it, it feels like a slow burn. It’s a classic enemies-to-lovers, with tropes such as “have to touch to heal” and “there’s only one bed” (for those who have specific tropes they love).
Overall, it is a wonderful debut, and I look forwards to see what Allison Saft writes next.
Read my reviews of other books by Allison Saft: