A Drop of Night
By Stefan Bachmann
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: March 15th, 2016
Five gifted teenagers are selected out of hundreds of other candidates to fly to France and help with the excavation of a vast, underground palace buried a hundred feet below the suburbs of Paris. Built in the 1780’s to hide an aristocratic family and a mad duke during the French Revolution, the palace was sealed after the aristocrats fled there. No one has set foot in it for over two centuries.
Or so they thought.
But nothing is as it seems, and the teenagers—bitter, iron-hearted Anouk, gentle Will, bubbly Lilly, and crazy Jules— soon find themselves embroiled in a game far more sinister, and dangerous, than they could possibly have imagined. An evil spanning centuries is waiting for them in the depths. . .
You cannot escape the palace.
You cannot guess its secrets.
If you have fears of getting trapped in an underground palace under approximately 100 plus feet of dirt, you should not read this book. If you don’t like sassy, prickly, sarcastic, broken heroines, this book is not for you either. If you like witty, if rude, heroines like Anouk and like being at least mildly terrified while reading and don’t mind some lovely writing and a very unique plot, then go buy this book and make plans to not eat, sleep, or pee before you finish.
I loved Anouk. She is mean and quite awful and pretty much hates everyone and everything, but she is also sarcastic and witty and smart. While what comes out of her mouth is not always socially acceptable, it’s still right, even if it’s said in the most insensitive way possible. As far as main characters go, she kept me reading. When the book got too odd, she mentioned it, when other characters got too whiny or pathetic, she kicked their ass into gear. While she may have come across as uncaring, she was not the psychopath she seemed to want to paint herself as. She cared if the other teens lived or died and fought for more than just her own life.
The villains were creepy enough to match the setting, with their purpose and overall air becoming all the more eerie as the true nature of their intent unfolded. The underground palace was beautifully, if sinisterly, rendered. The ubiquitous titular butterfly appeared from room to room, haunting and nipping at the characters heels as they rushed deeper into the Palace of the Butterfly’s warped maze. The traps that were set were wickedly devised, and the only thing that was scarier than the traps were the things that Bachmann hinted at but you didn’t see.
The rest of the cast of characters spanned centuries, from the French Revolution to the twenty-first century teens making up the rest of Anouk’s small party. The reader bounces back and forth between the present and the past, between the initial enlightenment of the palace’s horrors and their rediscovery. The introduction of one character whose role spans both timelines is especially notable as it showcases not only Bachmann’s ability to demonstrate his grasp of macabre writing but also the character’s descent from sanity.
The full cast of characters was well drawn and the plot fully pulled me in. A Drop of Night is a must read for the creep factor alone, but the uniqueness of the plot and the beautiful writing means I need another YA horror from Bachmann as soon as possible.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. A physical ARC was provided through Around the World ARC Tours, thanks for the opportunity!