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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

Down Comes the Night


Rating - ⭐⭐⭐


"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."


 

Down Comes the Night is a standalone YA fantasy book by Allison Saft.


This book pulled me in so many directions and I don't really know how to feel about it. My rating kept fluctuating between a 2.5 to a 3.5 as there were elements that I enjoyed and others not so much. I do think that Saft presents a partly intriguing story, and this is why I think so.



Writing


As with most YA authors, their writing style always seems to work for me. There were some minor grammatical errors and some odd use of italics in the beginning, but otherwise, I found it rather easy to breeze through the book.



Plot


This book has a bit of a multi-layered plot. We follow our main character Wren who, due to certain circumstances, ends up accepting the eccentric Lord Lowry of Cernos' request to aid his dying staff member. At the same time, her homeland Vesria is in the midst of preparing for war against Danu, who they have been at odds with for years as they think they are responsible for their missing soldiers.


This multi-layered plot is one of the things that divides my opinion. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the part of the story where Wren is trying to figure out what is wrong with the manor she is residing in and why people got sick and were dying. On the other hand, I could have surprisingly done without the fantasy elements. I thought that they watered down the story and didn't really amount to much in the end.


The story also didn't really pack too many punches as I was able to figure out what was going on pretty early on. It does put a damper on your mood a bit when you feel like you've already read the story because you can see what's coming. I was also expecting there to be more to the story than what was given in terms of twists. I was halfway through when all the clues pointed in one direction, and I was waiting for it to be more than that, but it wasn't which was disappointing.



World-Building


There are three lands that are focused on in this story. We have Verias, where our MC is from, Danu who is on their opposing side, and Cernos which is a land without magic but excels in science.


Verias is a Queendom that venerates their Goddess which is nice to see because you don't really get many Queendoms in fantasy. However, I didn't really think that the religious connotations of the book added much to the narrative. I also thought that putting a strong emphasis on magic was kind of pointless considering the lack of magic that is actually used throughout the book. Sure, it makes sense for Wren's character as she is a healer, but it didn't add much beyond that aspect.



Characters


The characters in this did hold me back from enjoying it more than I did, sadly. But let's start on a positive note, and that is that I did like Hal's character. He is more or less your typical 'misunderstood bad guy,' but I enjoyed it nonetheless. That's where the good things end, however, as we get to our main character, Wren.


Wren's character development was confusing, to say the least. We start the book out with her being described as overly emotional, self-sacrificing, and reckless. That immediately worried me as I absolutely hate characters who are naive and reckless. However, Wren's character did a complete 180 once she arrived at the manor, and it wasn't really a good development. She was still reckless, but now she was hot-headed as well and it was frustrating to read about her personality going all over the place.


This was not singular to Wren as well seeing as Una and Queen Isabel's personalities also changed incredibly quickly. Una is a soldier who has been following the Queen's order's her entire life, so I'd imagine it would have been way harder for her to not follow orders than what was depicted in the book. Queen Isabel as well has been neglecting Wren her entire life and has certain motivations that all but disappeared by the end of the book. I get that this is a standalone, but I would have liked for the characters to be more fleshed out so that their personalities weren't all wishy-washy.


Back to Wren, her decisions also made no sense (probably due to her recklessness). In order to stay home and not be shipped off due to a mistake she made, she runs away in the hopes that by helping Lord Lowry, she will be reinstated. It also slipped her mind that she told her Queen exactly where she was going but didn't think that they would go after her so quickly after deserting. There was a severe lack of thinking on her part on multiple occasions and it didn't make it easy for me to sympathize with her and her situation.


Moving on to character relationships, you know based on the synopsis alone that there was going to be something between Wren and Hal. I would have been fine with this relationship if Wren's character was better written and if their dynamic was less bumpy. What made their relationship a bit worse for me was that Wren's entire reason for abandoning her home was so that she could find a way to stay with Una, her best friend, and love. It bothered me that Wren and Una's love was thrown aside so easily for someone Wren just met not so long ago.



Concluding Thoughts


I thought that this would have been better if it was a historic gothic novel without any fantasy elements. There were a lot of intriguing plot lines that centered around the house and its mystery. The fantasy elements held back that story though, which is tragic considering how much I love fantasy. That is why I said that I partly liked this book as I liked the mystery but not the fantasy.

As I said before, the story also suffered from confusing character development which brought my rating down.


I don't really know who to recommend this for, but if the idea of a gothic with fantasy elements piques your interest, try this out for yourself.

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