“We all were raised to be cruel. It takes incredible strength to be kind in this world. To endure suffering instead of further it.”
One Sentence Summary: Wren must team up with her sworn enemy to stop a heinous plan from coming to fruition.
POV & Tense: Third-person past tense
Mood: Dark fantasy!
Themes: Kindness beats cruelty, science & innovation, warring countries
Rep: Bisexual main character, sapphic side character
Content Warnings: Gore, murder, descriptive surgery, torture
Other Tags: Fantasy, gothic, magic
This book is for you if: you like atmospheric fantasy, slow burn romances, enemies-to-lovers, Mexican Gothic, and Frankenstein.
To be honest, the beginning was rough for me. I was confused and ready to be finished. But oh boy am I glad I stuck this gothic fantasy out to the end. The slow burn genuine enemies-to-lovers relationship, the mystery, the gruesome details of the plot, and the cool magic system made Down Comes the Night more than worth it.
Wren Southerland is a military healer for her home country. When she’s dismissed from the Queen’s Guard on account of her reckless kindness, she’s invited to a reclusive lord’s estate to help heal one of his servants—and she takes the opportunity, hoping it’ll redeem her in the queen’s eyes and reinstate her in the military. Her plan goes awry when she discovers her new patient is actually Hal Cavendish, a murderous soldier from her country’s enemy. Wren and Hal team up to investigate the mysterious disappearances of soldiers from both of their countries, only to unravel a heinous plot. This book is filled with magic, science, industrialization, and romance.
First off, I love that we get a sympathetic bisexual protagonist whose biggest weakness is her compassion in a fantasy setting. I’m so happy to see all this bisexual representation lately, but I was lowkey disappointed the word wasn’t explicitly used in the actual text—forgivable considering it’s a fantasy novel, though. Wren Southerland is a badass heroine who has been dealt a suboptimal hand in life—her parents are dead, her aunt is the queen but outright despises her, she’s in love with her best friend who doesn’t feel the same way, and her kindness is constantly getting her in trouble. Wren just yearns and yearns and yearns—for Una, for Hal, for her aunt’s love, for acceptance—and I think that’s why I love her so much.
And do not get me started on Wren and Hal’s relationship. I love that they’re actual, real enemies from warring countries, rather than being flimsy rivals. Their slow burn romance is so. good. And!!! The way they build each other up, make each other the best versions of themselves, and care for each other so absolutely is exactly what I want to see in a YA relationship. Hal validates Wren’s kindness and compassion, and Wren allows Hal to believe he can redeem himself and choose his own destiny. A delicious pairing, truly.
Overall, Down Comes the Night is a fun, genuinely well-written fantasy with a rich atmosphere, strong worldbuilding, and a heart-melting slow burn enemies-to-lovers romance. It also has major Silvia Moreno-Garcia Mexican Gothic and Frankenstein energy!
Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and I will earn a commission if you click through the link above and make a purchase.