Genre: Gothic Fantasy Romance Young Adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Pages: Hardcover, 400 pages
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.
Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.
Love makes monsters of us all.
There are slight spoilers for the novel in this review.
Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft is an interesting mix of two genres, Gothic and fantasy romance, that Saft doesn’t quite manage to blend well.
Saft has all the pieces of a good story here, but the way they’re brought together doesn’t make sense after a while. I don’t often say this but Down Comes the Night has too much going on to just be a stand-alone novel, and that’s thanks to the fantasy elements. There are things that happen that are easily solved in order to keep the plot going in the direction Saft needs it to go. The biggest offender is near the end, when Hal has been imprisoned and Wren and her commanding officer/first love go to save him. There are only three guards in front of his cell, and they’re all “inexperienced” according to Saft. Why would you put inexperienced guards on a notorious war criminal’s cell? You put your best on that post. Predictably, Wren and her commanding officer are able to intimidate the officers away, and they literally walk out of the prison with Hal. Everything worked too conveniently according to what Saft needed to happen, even when logic dictates that it shouldn’t have. I spent too much of this novel going, “This shouldn’t have worked, and I can literally think of several reasons why.”
The timeline of the novel is literally two weeks, maybe three, and in that time I’m meant to believe that Wren and Hal are able to not only put aside their differences to be civil with each other, but fall in love? I couldn’t buy it, unfortunately. I can see what Saft was trying to do with Wren’s character, making her a compassionate, emotional girl who can connect with people, and I do appreciate that. There just wasn’t enough time for me to believe that her relationship with Hal progressed the way that it did.
Added to that, the villain’s plot doesn’t stand up under scrutiny. The villain is an interesting character on their own, but ultimately their storyline had too many holes in it I couldn’t ignore, and too many instances of characters acting a certain way so that Saft could get the villain to do what she needed him to do. The worldbuilding, which influences the villain’s plot, also doesn’t hold up once you think about it for too long.
Maybe if Saft hadn’t tried to do so much in one novel, it would be better. But the constant convenience of everything going whatever way Saft needs it to in that moment in order to get to the next checkpoint on the plot became too much to ignore, and ultimately, does the story a severe disservice.