Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft
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.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EXPECTED MARCH 2ND, 2021
It is winter, war is brewing, and Wren Southerland has lost everything.
Her nation of Danu is on the brink of violence with neighboring Vesria, one of her dearest friends has gone missing, and in the aftermath of a mission gone sideways, she has been stripped of her rank as a healer in the Queen’s Guard and sent to a convent to await whatever misery comes next. Except in that convent, Wren receives a letter inviting her to Colwick Hall, home to an eccentric lord whose servants are dying of a mysterious illness. Against all odds, she accepts the offer, only to find herself trapped in an eerie estate by the winter storms, with a patient who is also her sworn enemy.
And yet, to survive, she may need to make peace with that enemy. She might even have to prevent a war.
If you want enemies to lovers with a dash of mystery and murder and sickbed pining, this is the book for you!
Easily my favorite feature of Down Comes the Night is the outstanding execution of enemies to lovers! And, to be honest, lovers to enemies concerning a secondary character. Wren and Hal have a particular sort of banter that I enjoyed, one that could be a little impish, but one that also had all the sharpness of a knife when it hurt the most. Except those moments that hurt weren’t played off as cutesy banter, but genuinely painful, worth apology. And do you know what that means?
Our main characters actually communicate with each other!
I feel like that alone makes this book the Holy Grail. Wren and Hal may take a while to open up (which is sensible and perfectly in character), but they actually talk to one another! And have all manner of emotions, not just the soft sappy ones!
And on top of that, they also tangle up with some beloved tropes. Only one bed? Check! Sunshine and Hope Character healing Despondent and Tired Character? Also that! Character A gently overwhelmed by the sight of Character B in formal wear? Got a bit of that, too!
Basically, Down Comes the Night is well-crafted trope heaven. Yes, it absolutely has a compelling story (more on that in a moment), but it also sports a romance I don’t despise! And if you’ve been around for my reviews for any length of time, then you know that’s a real achievement. What can I say? I’m aro and I’m picky!
“Mercy is the most difficult thing.”
Seriously, stellar trope use aside, I’m in love with the plot and the way it questions war. Effectively, Wren, Hal, and many of their fellow soldiers are child soldiers. Sure, they’re nearly adults now, but they’ve been at war far too long far too young. More than that, they’ve witnessed atrocities. They’ve committed atrocities. All in the name of a war that was never of their own making. Hal especially bears a great deal of guilt for the awful things he’s done, and acknowledges that he is, in many ways, a monster.
And yet! Yet!
Down Comes the Night is also about recognizing the outside factors that pushed children into war. It’s about extending forgiveness in the interest of a better future, not just because it’s polite, but because it will be the right thing to do. It’s about the power of compassion in the face of an older generation that refuses to consider anything but further violence.
Plus, it’s about forgiveness being earned. This is by far my favorite thing about Hal in particular. He knows full well the scope of destruction that he’s brought in the war, and he regrets it deeply. It’s not enough to just feel regret, though, so his active goal is to make real change, make meaningful amends that will lead to a more peaceful future. He’s not in it to be forgiven, either. It’s not self-centered, and it’s the kind of redemption arc that I like to see. Forgiveness comes with work.
And as for mercy? It’s about mercy being so, so difficult to offer when you’ve been wronged, but still doing it anyway, because there are greater things at stake.
I will be the one-man hype squad for Down Comes the Night if I must, but I want to you to join me!
Maybe I’m just a sap for the power of compassion and trust. In fact, that’s the most likely explanation for my adoration of this book. But the point still stands that Down Comes the Night is a wonderful debut, and I can’t encourage you enough to read it!
You don’t have to wait long to get your hands on it, either. Tomorrow, March 2nd, it hits shelves for the first time, and you can fall in love with this wintery, gothic standalone too!
Please come join me in enemies to lovers trope heaven. I can’t be the only one in love with this book!
CW: graphic injury, gore (including eye gore), medical scenes, loss of a loved one, violence (including gun violence), smoking, animal death, child death, sex scene, nudity