Member Reviews

Unfortunately, this book didn't do it for me. I kept waiting for the story line to take off, and never felt invested in the characters.

Was this review helpful?

This book certainly belongs in the fantasy genre, Overall, the plot, mystery, were all set up so well that the rest of the story just seemed to fall into place. The world-building was important and complex in true fantasy fashion. And, I loved the characters! I loved all of them. Especially Wren, I think her past and her present, and her motives, made her relatable and a character that teens and others can appreciate. She is flawed and makes mistakes. She is impulsive like many, but she learns and grows so much based on her experiences and emotions.
I liked Wren’s POV. The writing was good and provides examples of similes and metaphors, balanced narrative techniques, and mood-setting descriptions. So this is a book a teacher could use for a class and students could use for independent reading. This book also dives into topics, such as war, love, emotion, and prejudice, so deeply that everything ties together through these themes. It is a book I can see students enjoying would be happy to recommend it to them.

Was this review helpful?

I forgot to leave a review for this, but I really enjoyed it! It's been out for ages, so I won't say much more than I need to for my star rating. <3

Was this review helpful?

This is one of those funny books that made its way up my TBR list in a unique way. In that, I’ve now read and very much enjoyed two different books by Saft in the past, and then the other day while I was going through my backlog of NetGalley requests to find a new read, low and behold, there was a (several years old) book I’d requested from the very same author! It’s also clear that this might not be that unique of a situation, as the publisher has now re-released this book with this updated cover. Funny how that goes, when an author releases one or more books before they finally strike upon one that opens readers’ eyes to their potential, and then bam! That back catalog of book suddenly seems well worth a second look! A very similar thing happened with Syvia Moreno Garcia after she published “Mexican Gothic.” Of course, I was a fan before it was cool! 😉 Anyways, on to the review for this book.

I really enjoyed this one! Of course, it had a lot of things I like going for it from the start: a sympathetic leading lady, strong female friendships, creepy gothic vibes, and a lovely slow-burn romance. Let’s start with the main character! I really appreciated the overall arc that Wren travels over the course of the book. In the start, we see her struggling against the judgements and expectations of those around her, people she loves and respects, all of whom are telling her that her sympathy and emotional decision making are weaknesses that must be suppressed. As the story continues, we see Wren push back against this, slowly beginning to reclaim the power of her own sensitivities and instinctual kindness. But it’s not a straightforward journey, and I appreciated the “two steps forward, one step backward” nature of her story. It’s not an easy thing to throw off the expectations of those you admire and to instead choose to follow your own path, and we see Wren struggle more than once to follow through on what she knows to be right, in her heart.

While it took a bit to get there, I loved the time we spent in the gothic-inspire manor. It had all of the slow-build dread and lingering horror that one looks for in a haunted house. Saft’s lyrical style of writing shone particularly strongly in these depictions, and there were scenes and settings here that truly gave me the shivers. And, of course, on top of that we have enigmatic lord of the house, with all of his secrets to be slowly revealed. I did feel like some of these secrets and mysteries were perhaps a bit easy to guess, but it’s one of those cases where the conventions of this sort of story betray it a bit, as far as these reveals go. Even if the reader has their suspicions, the experience of the gothic story makes up for some of the predictability.

I also really enjoyed the relationships in this book. Of course, the love story is the primary focus, and this was as sweet and lovely as you could wish for. There were even a few bumps in the road that I hadn’t fully anticipated which helped to add a greater level of depth to a relationship that could have become a bit too straight-forward. However, the more complex relationships came in the form of Wren’s best friend (and first love interest) and the Queen, Wren’s aunt. Through these female relationships, the book explores the challenges of close relationships, the ways in which those we care about can hurt us and misunderstand us more than anyone else. And, of course, likewise. The Queen, in particular, was an interesting character, because for much of the story, she’s almost cartoonishly horrible to Wren. So I was pleased to see a greater level of depth brought to her later in the book.

I will say, however, that now having read three books by this author, it does seem to me that she struggles with pacing towards the end of books. Like “A Fragile Enchantment,” the final third of this book is a roller-coaster ride of building conflict, a seeming resolution, only to lead directly into another conflict. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what the problem is, but there’s something off with the pacing and the reader’s ability to feel like the story is building to a true climax. Instead, you keep getting these mini climactic moments, not knowing which is meant to be the true one. It’s too bad, because the first parts of this book (and the others from Saft where I’ve struggled with a similar problem) are well-paced. It’s specifically an issue with the endings.

That said, I did enjoy how it all wrapped up, and the overall experience was good. Fans of this author, or those looking for a “cozy/gothic” fantasy story should definitely give this one a go!

Rating 8: Saft continues to impress with her incredible female leads and her swoon-worthy romances!

(Link will go live June 19 on The Library Ladies)

Was this review helpful?

The premise of this sounded intriguing and like it’d be an intense ride, but in the end this didn’t work for me: I found it hard to get into and don’t really jive with the writing

Was this review helpful?

Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book! I feel like I was so underperpared for how much I was going to love this book. I was first drawn in by the cover then the plot. And man did it deliver! I would definitely check this one out.

Was this review helpful?

Down Comes the Night tells the story of Wren Southerland, a medical healer who careless use of magic has left her without a position in the Queen's Guard and her lover Una. In an attempt to gain back both, Wren accepts a position with a reclusive lord to come to his estate and heal a member of his staff from a mysterious illness. However, once she arrives at this crumbling mansion, she begins to realize all is not what it appears. Her "patient" is none other than Hal Cavandish, one of the cruelest and brutal soldiers of her kingdom's enemy, who has come to the lord seeking his own redemption. Can these two heal each other while unraveling the nefarious truth?

Allison Saft's YA fantasy is good but a bit too long and in need of some editing. In addition to the many paragraphs of exposition and pacing issues, the atmosphere that was promised was not delivered. While the estate was falling apart and hidden rooms and tunnels abound, the gothic setting was not as developed as I had hoped. Overall, if you are new to this genre you will probably enjoy the setup and ending.

Was this review helpful?

Immerse yourself in the frost-covered world of "Down Comes the Night", a mesmerizing gothic fantasy romance that will leave you spellbound from start to finish.

As I ventured into the pages of this captivating novel, I found myself drawn into a realm of icy winds and crumbling mansions, where danger lurks around every corner. Through the eyes of Wren Southerland, a former member of the Queen's Guard, I embarked on a journey of redemption and self-discovery, navigating treacherous halls and uncovering long-buried secrets.

Wren's resilience and inner turmoil as she grapples with her past mistakes and uncertain future resonated deeply with me, evoking a sense of empathy and admiration for her character. Alongside her, the enigmatic Hal Cavendish, known as the Reaper of Vesria, captured my imagination with his complex nature and mysterious allure.

The dynamic between Wren and Hal crackles with tension and longing, weaving a thread of forbidden love into the fabric of the narrative. Against the backdrop of war and betrayal, their burgeoning relationship unfolds with palpable intensity, keeping me on the edge of my seat with each turn of the page.

Saft's skillful world-building transports readers to a land teeming with magic and intrigue, where dark forces conspire amidst the shadows. The atmospheric setting, coupled with the nuanced exploration of power and sacrifice, lends depth and complexity to the story, enriching the reading experience with layers of suspense and emotion.

In this enthralling tale of love and redemption, "Down Comes the Night" offers a compelling blend of gothic romance and fantasy adventure. With its richly drawn characters, immersive setting, and gripping storyline, this novel is sure to captivate readers seeking an atmospheric and evocative read.

Was this review helpful?

Special thanks to Wednesday Books for providing a digital ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars
I realise this is a very overdue review... 😬

TL;DR: I have such mixed feelings about this! I know I'm coming in with an unpopular opinion because I didn't love the same way everyone else seemed to. This had an intriguing premise but the execution didn't entirely work for me and it's unfortunate because with the fantasy, romance, and mystery rolled into one, I thought this would surely be something I'd enjoy! That's not to say it was all bad—I liked the writing, atmosphere and several character arcs, and overall, I'm glad I finally read something by Saft.

The story starts strong and Saft's wonderfully immersive writing and the atmosphere she creates in this book lends itself well to the chilling, creepy, gothic story. Knockaine is a filthy city crumbling under the weight of war. Colwick Hall is the embodiment of a gloomy haunted mansion runover with its endless dark halls, forbidden areas, constant creaking and haunting moans from... the wind (or is it?). I'm not usually great at handling spooky atmospheres in stories because I'm The Ultimate Chicken™️ but while Saft creates a decadently dark setting, it was enough to immerse you in the story without being overwhelming. The mystery of who was doing the bad thing wasn't necessarily bad but it was fairly predictable even for someone like me who doesn't often read mysteries. However, I feel it took some of the tension away from the plot even as I was eager to see how Wren and Hal would resolve the mystery and get justice.

I was intrigued by the magic system and how it's connected to science and the body but the world-building was a little hard to understand. Perhaps it's just me but even with the bit of info dumping at the beginning, I found it difficult to fully understand the tensions between the two warring countries and how it's possible for the third country to be so fully isolated from the constant wars. Especially when it's so easy to cross borders, as we see happen multiple times!

Sadly, what I struggled with most was the distance I felt from the characters and their romance. Of course, I cared and wanted to see them get a satisfying ending but at the same time, I felt disconnected. There were a few side characters like Una and the Queen who played important roles but it often felt like the story was happening in isolation from everything else, if that makes sense?

Wren was an MC that I wasn't always sure how to feel about. She's passionate about medicine and using her magic to help others and I loved that even though she struggled with how it made her look to others, she continued to follow her gut to heal instead of harm. She feels a lot and it's something she's constantly belittled for as it often leads to her getting into harmful situations. I felt for her struggle to find her place but I loved her growth and steady acceptance of who she is and that it's not a weakness to feel as much as she does. I also liked that she recognised how unhealthy her "quasi-relationship" was with the person she loved from the beginning. That said, I'm sorry to say that I found her constant indecision and change of mind became irritating. Especially when she would get upset that the person she pushed away would deliberately pull away in return. It just came across as immature and when it had even bigger consequences, like freezing to death in the mountain pass? Well, sometimes it is good to think before you act, y'know? Also, the times when the author would have her say body parts or organs in their scientific name... I'm sorry but I wasn't a fan as it came off as very pretentious...

As the love interest and secondary MC who didn't get a POV, I liked that Hal's character was still explored well. Yes, he's the brooding enemy who has a monstrous reputation but in reality is a young man who is torn between duty to family and country vs. knowing what's wrong/right. He's trying to make amends for what he's done and his determination, patience, and admiration of Wren and acknowledgement of her emotions as a strength were what I loved most about him. Which brings me to their romance... Knowing that the extended use of magic on a patient creates a bond between them and the healer made the romance feel a little forced on top of it being rather instalove. I mean, I loved their moments of getting to know each other beyond the rumours and stories painted about them but it wasn't enough to convince me that it was truly love, if that makes sense. It wasn't a huge deal although I obviously would've liked to feel more invested in their romance but I wasn't mad that they found their happiness because they both deserved it!

Overall, not a bad first read by this author and I'm excited to read more by her in the future!

Was this review helpful?

<b><i>He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.</i></b>

Wren Southerland is considered reckless and it costs her everything, her position in the Queen’s Guard and her best friend.

*Cue dramatic lighting* Wren is offered a chance at redemption, but at a price. She comes face to face with none other than 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.

Will they join forces or tear each other apart?

By some miracle this book got 3 stars from me. The first 51% of the book was <i>booooooring</i>. I didn’t care one bit about Una or Uma, I wasn’t attached really to many of the characters. Then lo and behold! A shining light. The only saving grace was the progression from enemies to unsteady allies to lovers between Wren and Hal.

My biggest upset though is that this was supposed to be a gothic novel and I didn’t really feel any of that. It felt more mystery with a dash of the past, to me.

I’d read a longer novel about Hal and Wren, had it started when it got interesting. I am glad I hung in there. The ending was worth the wait.

Was this review helpful?

I requested this for consideration for Book Riot's All the Books podcast for its release date. After sampling several books out this week, I decided to go with a different book for my review.

Was this review helpful?

I’m a sucker for an atmospheric gothic fantasy romance, and DOWN COMES THE NIGHT was all of that and more. Working as a member of the Queen’s Guard, Wren finds herself on the brink of being ousted from her job and the kingdom after one too many mishaps. The Queen already hates her, as she’s her illegitimate niece and never fails to remind her of it every chance she gets. When she received a letter that’s offering employment as a healer, Wren jumps at the chance to escape her current situation. What she encounters when she gets to her new position is certainly not what she expected, nor is the threat of danger any less than what the Queen had in store for her.

This was a delightful standalone gothic romance where the villain gets the girl. Of course, the villain may not be a villain after all, as everyone does bad things when in the thick of war. I adored Wren and her resiliency and her many struggles. She’s wrestling with her feelings for Una while simultaneously understanding that Una will never truly accept Wren for who she is. Hal, on the other hand, loves all aspects of Wren, and she slowly and surely starts to understand that what Hal promises is what a strong, healthy relationship is made of. Wren idolized Una and it was often heartbreaking to watch as she slowly came to realize that her idolatry was sorely misplaced.

The world that Saft created was atmospheric, cold, and fraught with danger and much of the story takes place during a severe winter storm. Wren is virtually trapped in her employer’s gothic mansion, and that added such a layer of dread to the story. The magic system was interesting and I loved the different powers the characters had. I also loved the plot of the bad guy and his intentions concerning magic, it added a bit of the macabre and eerie quality to this already atmospheric tale.

Bottom line — I really enjoyed this gothic fantasy romance. An interesting world and magic system, dueling countries, sympathetic characters, and fantastic storyline combine to make this an immersive and compelling read. 4 stars.


*eARC received via NetGalley and the publisher.

Was this review helpful?

This was a fantasy that I enjoyed, but didn’t feel was exceptional. It was more of a gothic fantasy, with Romance that came in about halfway to just past the halfway mark. I enjoyed the little bit of world building we experienced, and the magic was intriguing but I just wanted more from it.

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely loved this book! It was fast placed, unique and unpredictable. Thr Gothic and creepy atmosphere was on point. I liked that the romance wasn't cut and dry. That is something I struggle with while reading. When they just love each other almost immediately it doesn't feel right. This story isn't like that. I truly enjoyed it.

Was this review helpful?

This pulled me in as it was marketed to fans of the Grisha Trilogy which I adore immensely. First thought after finishing was that I loved the representation of the LQBTQ+ community in the character of Wren. It was interwoven to be natural, and not pandering like some stories can feel. The second is while the story was interesting, it left me sort of disjointed. I had mixed feelings about this as I was sometimes pulled in and others my attention easily waned.

Was this review helpful?

Down Comes the Night follows Wren, who has healing magic, as she is kicked out of the Queen's Guard and takes a job at a spooky old mansion in order to help heal this guy's servant who is like sick sick and literally dying. Normal!!

Especially when it turns out for some reason his servant is not actually a servant, but ~Hal Cavendish~ who is basically the opposite of Wren lol because he has KILLING magic :P he also is on the enemy.. team? They're not really at war I don't THINK but there's two rival kingdom thingies and he is from one and Wren is from another. Hal can kill someone by looking into their eyes with his magic and they call him The Reaper because of it

So yeah he's dying, Wren goes in and is kind of concerned about healing The Reaper at first lol but then she's like hell why not and she tries to first diagnose then heal whatever is wrong with him

Eventually it turns out that there's a mystery to solve surrounding the illness and the two of them spend a lot of time together, as ya do, and they realize maybe they're not so different than they think, as ya do!!! Their relationship does have a very organic development and is very appropriately paced, which I definitely think is a strength of Allison Saft's!!

Outside of the romance and the disease mystery, the main conflict between Wren and herself is that she isn't quite sure who she is outside of the spot she's always taken up in her life. The queen of her kingdom is her aunt like biologically but she really dislikes Wren and Wren has always felt like she had to live up to her expectations (impossible btw). Wren's best friend (who has previously been more?) is like the head of... maybe a little army group it's not super easy to tell but yeah Wren heals alongside them but she has a tendency to be sorta lenient on enemies because she wants to heal them too!! And it just doesn't always end in the other ladies being proud of her.

Wren is either bi or pan or whatever since she previously had something romantic with her female best friend!! So that was a nice surprise in terms of representation :-)

The reveal in the mystery is one of those ones that is so obvious you're like it can't be that back to the point it's shocking again lol but I think it had a decent level of intrigue and danger so I'm not too mad at it

But really I didn't ever get to the point of being invested or caring too much about these characters which is a shame. It had a lot of things that A Far Wilder Magic had, which is the author's sophomore book, but it's like what she started in book one she perfected in book two. Dislike to love, resilient female MC with shoddy maternal figure escaping the internal pressure the maternal figure applies, characters developing a strong relationship in a pretty isolated setting... A Far Wilder Magic just HAD it and frankly I feel like if I had read this first I wouldn't have been too inspired to pick that one up just because this one was kinda generic!!

I feel like her writing DEFINITELY is only going to get better tho so I cannot wait for the next few projects of hers that I see on her goodreads page :0)

Was this review helpful?

"Down Comes the Night" by Allison Saft is a hauntingly beautiful gothic novel that seamlessly blends romance, mystery, and fantasy. Wren Southerland, a healer and soldier, is tasked with healing a prisoner at a remote estate. The characters are well-developed and complex, and the relationship between Wren and the prisoner, Hal Cavendish, is emotional and heart-wrenching. Saft's writing is atmospheric and evocative, creating a vivid and immersive world. As one character says, "It takes incredible strength to be kind in this world. To endure suffering instead of further it," which perfectly captures the tone of the novel. The resolution is satisfying and emotionally resonant. "Down Comes the Night" is a stunning debut novel that's a must-read for fans of gothic romance and fantasy.

Was this review helpful?

Allison Saft's debut novel, Down Comes the Night, is a captivating dark fantasy with a touch of romance. The story follows Wren Southerland, a disgraced Queen's Guard who is sent to a remote estate to cure a mysterious illness. But upon arriving, Wren discovers that her patient is none other than Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria, and her kingdom's sworn enemy. As Wren and Hal work together to uncover the secrets of Colwick Hall, they begin to realize that their respective kingdoms may be in grave danger.

Saft's writing is lyrical and atmospheric, drawing the reader into the eerie and mysterious world of Colwick Hall. The pacing is well-done, keeping the tension high throughout the story. The characters are complex and intriguing, particularly Wren and Hal, whose initial animosity towards each other slowly transforms into something more.

The romance between Wren and Hal is a slow burn, and it's refreshing to see a love story that doesn't take center stage. Instead, the focus is on their personal growth and how they come to understand each other despite their differences. Their relationship is just one element of the larger story, and it's all the more compelling for it.

Overall, Down Comes the Night is a fantastic debut novel that will appeal to fans of dark fantasy and slow-burn romance. With its lush prose and compelling characters, this book is sure to captivate readers from start to finish.

Was this review helpful?

Hits the nail on the head with its gothic storytelling but like with many gothic stories it just dragged for too long. The relationship between the protagonist and love interest felt a little forced. The character arc of the protagonist was successful as I found that there was an over arching change in her from the beginning to end but overall kind of forgetable.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for a copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
This story had me at the beginning and I was engrossed until the end. It has a bit of everything in it: mystery, romance, betrayal, politics and fantasy.
Wren is a healer and the neice of the current queen but she is not seen as anymore that an embarrassment. Soldiers are going missing and one of them is her friend Byers and when on a patrol with her best friend and commanding officer Uma she makes what is seen as yet another mistake and she is banished as healer in the coal mines, but Wren is not willing to obey her queen's orders and runs away to work with a Lord in healing one of his workers. The only problem is the worker is none other than wanted man Hal Cavendish. Wren is determined to prove herself to the queen and return to her place in the military. However once Wren starts to really get to know Hal she is torn between him and her duty.
When Wren and Hal find the proof they need to show who is taking and killing soldiers Wren thinks that she now has the proof to show the queen and Uma that she is worthy of her place in the squad. The only problem is that this news is not received how Wren expected it to be and now not only is Hal's life at risk but so is Wrens and her fellow countrymen.
The beginning did drag out a bit but once the real story came through it was page turning for me. The main characters had depth and although Uma came across as condescending and dominant at times she was still someone who could be relatable. The queen Isabelle left a lot to be desired but she deemed herself in the end also.
I thought this was a very enjoyable read and would recommend to others if interested in a bit of a mix of everything in their books.
3.5/5

Was this review helpful?