Gothic Fantasy Book Review | 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.

Goodreads Rating: ☀️☀️☀️☀️

Down Comes the Night is a gothic tale of magic, power, and jealousy that will pull you in and keep you there in horror and wonder.

The story, especially the first half, reminded me of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier in character, setting, and other story elements. Wren Southerland is young, gifted, and impetuous, much like Rebecca. She wants to do the most good in the world but plows ahead without thinking things through. I couldn’t help but love her giant heart while my jaw-dropped over her spur of the moments decisions. Sometimes, she appears to be the damsel in distress, while at other times, showing sparks of a potential leader to her people, ushering them into a new age. Wren is a complex character full of the contradictions that come with her youth and is more of an anti-hero in this story since the burdens of her choices foreshadow her doom.

The gothic tone and atmosphere take the place of any detailed world-building. I learned some about the world, enough to mostly understand it, but I would have loved to explore a lot of details in more depth. The story primarily pulls you in with the gothic horror, which is dark and pervasive though never scary. I enjoyed this uniqueness among the fantasy stories that I read.

I enjoyed the mystery, which is the focus of the first half of the story. The story is very much like Rebecca in that way – a mystery in a “haunted” house with a villain that will send chills up your spine. Soldiers have been going missing from the warring countries of Danu and Vesrian. Each country thinks the other took their people. Wren sets out to find her lost friend and ultimately solve the mystery.

The magic system is fascinating. That is one of those areas that could have been developed more but what I learned is fascinating. Magic runs through some people like blood does through veins and focuses on one body part. Hal could kill people through his eyes, and Wren could heal people through her hands. Other abilities are alluded to, but I did not learn enough information about them. I would have loved to know much more about the magical system and the different skills.

As seen in most gothic stories, this one can be a bit dense and feel like it is carrying on for a much longer time than anticipated, so I think you have to love this writing style to enjoy this fantasy truly. And in saying that – if a fantasy story that is told using all of the Gothic literature elements is something that intrigues you, then Down Comes the Night is a must-read for you!

13 Replies to “Gothic Fantasy Book Review | Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft”

  1. Very good review 👍. Please add if the book pins you down till end(unputdownable, so to speak). Hope the plot development is sustained.

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  2. I also read this one (we seem to do that a lot). While it wasn’t exactly what I expected, I still enjoyed it. I agree with you about the magic system and world-building – I wouldn’t have minded more exploration.

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    1. I was worried about whether or not I’d like it going in but definitely did. And, yes, there was much left unexplained about how things got to be where they are and the role of magic within it. But otherwise a very cool blend of gothic and fantasy 🙂

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  3. I’ve been keeping an eye on this one. I’m intrigued by the Gothic element. Great review, Tessa!

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    1. Thank you! Since I’m used to gothic in mystery (when I do read it), seeing it used with a fantasy story was very intriguing and it was done exceptionally well.

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  4. I do like gothic tales, but I’m a little concerned about you calling it dense. Still, four stars is solid. I’m intrigued by this one. Thanks, Tessa.

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    1. It is so rich with atmosphere that I realized, at times, I just felt weighted down by it and needed a little break before continuing on. I think it speaks to how well it embraced the gothic style truly.

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