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.
Title: Down Comes the Night
Author: Allison Saft
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Gothic, High Fantasy, Romance, Horror
Target Audience: Young Adult
Content Warnings: Description of medical procedures/surgery, Drugging, Childhood emotional abuse (mentions), Eye horror, Gore, Implied torture, Murder, Parental death (mentions), Poisoning
After the lovely Cossette from teatimelit raved about this book, I knew that I needed to get my hands on it as soon as humanly possible, and I’m so glad that I did! Now I’ve read it, lost my mind texting her about it, and read it again. I’m drinking a cup of tea in the middle of a snowstorm and listening to the Crimson Peak soundtrack and I can’t think of a better atmosphere to finally get all of my thoughts about Down Comes the Night down on paper.
Down Comes the Night is truly an atmospheric and dark tale full of nods to some classic horror tropes like the mad scientist, haunted/abandoned mansion, romanticism versus enlightenment, body horror, and more. It’s haunting without being too scary for teen audiences or for someone who isn’t a fan of horror. The horror elements were perfectly blended with the romantic elements; a balance every great Gothic story must have.
I really loved the way that Saft blended science and magic in her world building. Both in the contrasts between Danu, Vesria, and Cernos, the three neighbouring countries the story takes place in, and in the way that Wren experiences her magic use and the impacts and effects of using magic. It was a really cool take on magic use and what it means to be a magic user in Saft’s world.
Saft has built a world full of hope, love, and redemption against a backdrop of war, betrayal, and unrest. Danu, Vesria, and Cernos felt so real; even though the story is only set in two of the countries, there is a very realistic sense of their conflict, struggle, and how this centuries long war has impacted and shaped every person in all three countries.
“She’d grown up alongside war, could smell it brewing like a storm on the horizon. And once it came…”
From the very moment we are introduced to Wren, the illegitimate niece of the Danubian Queen, she bares her heart to the reader: choosing to show an enemy kindness when it would be much easier to follow orders and ignore his pain. Consistently throughout the book, Wren follows her instincts, and chooses kindness, love, and compassion. She’s a character I couldn’t help but love with all of my heart; a chaotic bisexual darling with a heart of gold. She is unendingly kind, despite everything that she has seen and experienced.
“We all were raised to be cruel. It takes incredible strength to be kind in this world. To endure suffering instead of further it.”
As much as I love Wren, Hal is definitely my favourite. A boy torn between duty to his family and country, and his beliefs. Saft could not have introduced him more perfectly, burdened not only by a terrible and mysterious illness, but the weight of his sins. Hal is a character that undergoes so much personal growth over the course of the book. I just want to wrap him in a blanket. I love characters that remind us that no matter where you are coming from and what you have done, there is still hope and there is always a chance to find redemption.
Down Comes the Night is also full of rich, complex, and wonderful side characters. There is Una, a talented army general, favoured by the queen, who has to decide if she’s willing to risk it all for love. Queen Isabel, called the queen of paper by her subjects. Lord Alistair Lowry III, enigmatic Cernosian nobleman with a secret. And Hannah, a servant in Lowry’s household who becomes a friend. It is a cast of characters that feels so fleshed out and realistic, and they truly elevate the story from good to great.
Down Comes the Night has definitely earned a spot in my heart and is my newest Staff Pick at work. Ultimately, Saft shows that it takes more courage and strength to be kind than to be hard in a cruel world, and I think that is a message that everyone needs to hear sometimes. This is a book for people who like to curl up on dark nights and watch classic horror flicks, lovers of tropey fantasy romance, anyone who has ever felt torn between their duty and their heart, and for anyone who has ever been told that they are too soft or that they aren’t good enough. I hope that you love it just as much as I do.
Check out my Down Comes the Night Playlist that I made below:
About the Author
Allison Saft was born in a Philadelphia blizzard and has been chasing the sun ever since. After receiving her MA in English Literature from Tulane University, she moved from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast, where she spends her time hiking the redwoods and practicing aerial silks. Down Comes the Night is her debut novel.