Parents' Guide to

Down Comes the Night

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Slow-burn romance, page-turning suspense in magical fantasy.

Book Allison Saft Fantasy 2021
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Author Allison Saft's deftly plotted and romantic fantasy debut is ideal for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Marie Rutkoskilooking for the next unputdownable story. Wren shows a remarkable amount of character growth in the story, and not just because she finds Hal attractive (he's sick and bedridden when she first encounters him in Lowry's mansion), but because she begins to understand that her empathy isn't a problem or a shameful secret to overcome like Una and the Queen made Wren think but a source of strength. Wren's time at Colwick Hall is full of gothic elements: dark and secret "wings," crumbling, blocked-off areas, staff that doesn't know whether to speak only or stay quiet, and of course, a clever and engimatic owner -- Lowry enjoys his reputation as a vapid hedonist, but he's obviously smarter and more calculating than Wren or Hal know.

The romance is the classic enemies-to-lovers journey, with all the expected soul-searching, longing looks, and "will they or won't they" tension. Wren doesn't know how to reconcile the kind, open-minded, and peaceful Hal at Colwick Hall with the ruthless killer she spotted on the battlefield. She's also confused, because part of her doesn't know how to process her love for Una -- is it based in romance or is it based in a lifelong bond she asks herself. Wren and Hal's deepening relationship, and how they search for clues to solve the mystery of Lowry's motives and the mysterious deaths of servants and soldiers is the strongest part of the book. The way that magic -- and their wielders -- can be used by the State is reminiscent of the Grisha trilogy, in which all Grisha are expected to serve the Second Army. Here, those endowed with Magic are similarly expected to serve their respective crowns. Saft is a talented new voice in fantasy romance, and she knows how to weave a compelling tale.

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