Down Comes the Night

St. Martin’s/Wednesday. Mar. 2021. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250623638.
Gr 9 Up–Wren Southerland’s healing abilities make her one of the best surgeons in the country of Danu, but being able to feel another’s pain gives her a compassionate nature at odds with her place in the military. With soldiers going missing along the border and Wren’s compassion bungling a mission (again), she ends up suspended. A letter from Colwick Hall contains a chance to prove herself and earn back her post. Arriving at the snowy, crumbling castle, Wren finds her patient is not a servant, but her country’s worst enemy, Hal Cavendish. A romantic high fantasy at turns lush and ominous, the detailed setting is at turns comforting and eerie as Wren struggles for acceptance and love, while the personal and political plots happening within the walls of Colwick will keep readers on pins and needles. Saft’s narrative voice makes reading effortless with the perfect blend of pacing and poetry. Wren has auburn hair and a white relative; her skin color is not explicitly mentioned the way diversity in the supporting cast is. Wren is bisexual, with f/f and m/f romantic plotlines on the page. Fans of Leigh Bardugo’s “Grisha Trilogy” and Marie Rutkoski’s “Winner’s Trilogy” have been waiting for this Darkling-esque romance.
VERDICT Those who pick up Saft’s debut will be richly rewarded on all counts—intricately woven characters, beautiful prose, and darkness around every corner make this fantasy a first purchase.

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