Honor your oath, destroy your country.
Wren Southerland is the most talented healer in the Queen’s Guard, but her reckless actions have repeatedly put her on thin ice with her superiors. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate to cure his servant from a mysterious disease, she seizes the chance to prove herself.
When she arrives at Colwick Hall, Wren realizes that nothing is what it seems. Particularly when she discovers her patient is actually Hal Cavendish, the sworn enemy of her kingdom.
As the snowy mountains make it impossible to leave the estate, Wren and Hal grow closer as they uncover a sinister plot that could destroy everything they hold dear. But choosing love could doom both their kingdoms.
Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched, gothic, romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.
- Title: Down Comes the Night
- Author: Allison Saft
- Publisher: Wednesday Books
- Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Gothic, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
- Age Range: Young Adult
- Trigger warnings: Mentions of parental death, blood, gore, murder, war, implied torture, description of surgery and procedure
- Rating: ★★★★★
Do you know those books that are just so hauntingly gorgeous and captivating that no matter how badly you want to finish it in one sitting, you know it’s better to take your time with it, to marinate your thoughts, and then return to it? Just so you can savor your time with it a little longer, and to spend some more time in their world? Down Comes the Night was one of those books for me.
If you follow me on Twitter – or if you’ve talked to me ever, you’ll know that Down Comes the Night is one of my favorite books. I walked into Down Comes the Night and Colwick Hall unsure of what I would find, and ended up with my heart two sizes bigger. In all honesty, Down Comes the Night is a total 180 from books I normally pick up – I usually gravitate towards contemporary books, and ‘Gothic’ is probably the last thing that anyone would ever associate with me. And yet, Down Comes the Night has secured a permanent place in my heart, and Allison Saft has become an autobuy author for me. To put it simply, Down Comes the Night is a beautifully descriptive tale, wrapped up in empathy, self-love, and some of my favorite tropes. There’s so much yearning, a wonderfully done enemies-to-lovers romance, a bed-sharing moment, a useless bisexual, all in a Victorian-era fantasy world.
While I’m not the biggest fantasy reader, something I really appreciate about the genre is worldbuilding. Even though Danu, Vesria, and Cernos aren’t real, I could imagine the conflict between the countries so clearly. And when Wren stepped foot into the crumbling mansion that is Colwick Hall, I felt like I was right there with her. More than once, I found myself holding my breath alongside Wren as she ventured deeper into Colwick Hall and uncovered more of its secrets. Saft simply has a way of writing that makes you feel like you’re in the story.
From the dedication, which reads “For all the girls who feel too much”, I knew Down Comes the Night was going to be a book that hit close to home to the point that it felt like a consistent call-out. In fact, one of my friends actually sent me “as soon as i saw the dedication i thought oh… yes i see you coco” right after they finished Down Comes the Night. I’ve always been told that I feel things too deeply and that I’m too sensitive (too empathetic, that it made me weak, etc.), so to have a main character that was also like that was refreshing.
When we first meet Wren Southerland, we’re instantly introduced to her kind heart and her strong sense of empathy – two things that have cemented her on my list of favorite literary heroines. One of my favorite things about Down Comes the Night is how it reinforces that compassion isn’t a weakness but a strength, and how we’re so much more than what we can do. Watching Wren realize that she was more than just her healing abilities was empowering — just like watching those around her realize that Wren’s empathy wasn’t a weakness.
Down Comes the Night is also incredibly timely. With a mysterious illness, it’s eerily reminiscent of our world today. Down Comes the Night is also a reminder of how important it is to remain hopeful even when things are difficult, and to take care of ourselves before we reach the point of burnout. Now more than ever, it feels like we’re so buried into our work that sometimes we forget about self-care. Or rather, if you’re anything like me, you’re very aware that you’re forgetting about self-care, you’re just too busy to make it a priority.
I loved how Wren’s storyline wasn’t centered around her bisexuality, and even more so, that this fantasy world wasn’t a world where homophobia existed. As someone who is bisexual, it was so affirming to see Wren deeply in love with Una, to watch Wren and Hal’s relationship develop as well, and for both pairings to be just as valid. I loved Una; I loved her tenacity, her desire for justice and how strong she was. Despite Wren and Una’s past, they’ve always got each other’s best interests at heart, and they understand one another.
I’m a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope, although most enemies-to-lovers book recommendations I’ve received are usually a one-sided enemies-to-lovers (with the other party being in love with them the entire time), an “annoyance”-to-lovers, or a miscommunication/misconception of someone which causes them to be “enemies”. Down Comes the Night is truly enemies-to-lovers, with Hal and Wren being from two countries that are at war with each other. Their reason for being enemies is bigger than themselves, and is rooted in years of politician tension. Hal and Wren have to unlearn everything they’ve been told about not just each other, but their countries, in order to solve the mystery of Colwick Hall, and of Hal’s illness, and they definitely stumble along the way. We see them struggle between their loyalty for their countries and their growing affection for one another, resulting in some yearning moments that simply put, made me feel so soft.
While Down Comes the Night is undoubtedly Wren’s story, there’s a lively ensemble cast of characters that truly round out the story. Whether it’s Lowry’s eccentricness, Hannah’s loyalty (a wonderful foil for Wren), Una’s strong sense of justice, or Queen Isabel’s strength, I found myself fascinated by each one of them, and their motivations. It was evident how their motivations impacted their thoughts and how they interacted with one another, which made following their character development all the more delightful and rewarding.
Overall, I absolutely adored Down Comes the Night, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly! If you’re a fan of tropes, Gothic romance, or just want a compelling read, this is one you can’t miss. A wonderful debut for Saft, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!
If you want to find out which character from Down Comes the Night you are, or if you just want to be dragged by yours truly, I made a little uquiz which you can take here! If you take the uquiz, I’d love to know who you got (and if it was accurate) either in the comments below or on Twitter!
Down Comes the Night comes out on March 2nd, 2021, and you can find the preorder campaign here! On the topic of preorders, I actually preordered Down Comes the Night immediately after finishing the ARC from my favorite indie bookstore, but when the Down Comes the Night preorder campaign was launched, I realized I really wanted the exclusive print and a signed copy for myself. Rather than cancel my preorder, I’d love to give it away instead – including the character cards that come along with any preorder. Check out my twitter for more information!
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 Nightis her debut novel.