DOWN COMES THE NIGHT by ALLISON SAFT
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Okay, let me just get this out of the way now: I’m going to be biased in this review. It’s inevitable, the bias, and I can’t help it. Do you know why? It’s because I know Allison personally. She’s my friend and my ow writing mentor. We’ve traded manuscripts and she’s been instrumental to my growth as a writer. We’ve talked on the phone on multiple occasions, even! She’s a great person and an even greater friend, so…That might reflect my feelings on Down Comes the Night. In fact, I know it will, but at least I’m getting it out of the way early, right?
What is Down Comes the Night by my wonderful friend Allison Saft about? A Gothic romance set in a fictional, war-torn country, DCTN follows a healer named Wren, who uses her scientific knowledge and natural-born magic to heal the sick and wounded. Wren is part of her country’s military and despite being naturally gifted, she gets herself into quite a bit of trouble after her emotions cause the escape of an important prisoner of war. For her mistake, Wren is exiled to Colwick Hall, a desolate manor in the mountains of a neighboring country. It is there Wren is expected to heal the mysterious and deadly illness of the manor lord’s servant–all fine and good until Wren discovers who this “servant” is.
It’s Hal Cavendish, the “Reaper” of Vesria, Wren’s country’s sworn enemy. Hal is gifted with deadly magic and is responsible for hundreds of deaths. At first, Wren wants to leave Hal for dead, but her innate empathy as a healer won’t let her. Reluctantly, she begins to treat Hal, and as time goes on, Wren realizes he might not be the monster she’s been led her whole life to believe.
Whew. Plot summary done. Let’s get down to business, shall we?
I’m not going to lie here and say I didn’t love DCTN, because I did. I loved it. Allison’s writing is beautiful and lush and perfectly suited for such a Gothic tale. The book is expertly claustrophobic, trapping Wren and Hal within the rotting walls of Colwick Hall. The descriptions alone are enough for me to give this book five stars, and I love a setting in which there’s a ton of snow, with Colwick Hall certainly fitting the bill. I loved Wren as a character. She’s emotional and anxious and far from perfect. She makes mistakes and feels too much–according to everyone else around her. I deeply related to those feelings and found myself rooting for Wren from page one. I also loved Hal. He’s a little broody, a little stubborn, but underneath the gruff exterior, you can tell he’s grappling with the evils he’s committed, despite only being nineteen.
I also want to take a moment to shout out Lord Lowry, the owner of Colwick Hall. Lord Lowry is shallow and ridiculous and I loved reading about him. Is he shady? Yes. Is he incredibly fun? Also yes.
Down Comes the Night is a fantastic debut. You can feel the bite of the snow as you read, smell the mold in the air as Wren traverses Colwick Hall. Wren and Hal grow with one another as the story progresses and it’s wonderful to see how the two grow to love one another. If you’re itching for a Gothic romance a la Crimson Peak (who wouldn’t be?), pick up our copy of Down Comes the Night at the Oreana library soon!