A Drop of Night: The Review
This book is nothing short of a masterpiece, enough said. But since this is a review, I’ll keep going. If you haven’t picked up Stefan Bachmann’s A Drop of Night, well, you need to.
If you have picked up this book, you’ll notice that the synopsis is rather vague. And really, it’s merely setting the stage. The main protagonist Anouk, along with 4 others, has been chosen to visit a French architectural dig site. But it’s not just any dig sit. It happens to be an underground palace built in the 18th century. Upon arrival, Anouk realizes that this trip is anything but ordinary, and quickly finds herself in a cat-and-mouse game, fighting to survive.
Bachmann’s story is the perfect blend of historical fiction and science fiction. While this may sound a little unusual, nothing seemed out of the ordinary and everything seemed to flow together perfectly. The historical elements built a strong starting point for the plot, as well as giving credibility to its characters. Meanwhile, the science fiction lent a surreal and mysterious quality, keeping readers engaged and intrigued. Throughout the story, you learn more and more about the historical background of the palais and its dark secrets until you reach the end to see the final climax.
“I glance back over my shoulder. I can still see her. She’s corpse white and hunched, and her dress in tatters, whirling around her like a cloud. She hurls a tracker into a mirror and turns, looking toward us. She’s not breathing hard. She’s not breathing at all. Her eyes are dead black.” (p. 343)
One of the my favorite aspects of the book was the blend of horror, suspense, and action. There really weren’t any dull moments. Unless you want to count the less stressful chapters that were merely giving you a chance to breathe. The final product’s unique blend of genres exudes originality. While I do not enjoy reading horror, per se, there were plenty of “scary” moments that keeps you on the edge of your seat. So many times I found myself thinking, “Just one more chapter,” shortly followed by, “I can’t end on this chapter! I need to know what happens next.”
An interesting caveat to the storyline is the duality of the points of view. While Anouk is technically the protagonist, nearly half of the chapters in the book are being told from Aurelie du Bessancourt’s perspective. Aurelie tells her story of the past, giving readers insight into Anouk’s present predicament. The farther you delve into this mysterious world, you see how Aurelie’s story is intertwined with Anouk’s. The meshing of the two stories adds an extra depth to the plot, better presenting the introduction, climax, and finale of the story.
“And now there is only darkness, our moving feet and our quick gasping breaths, and we cannot cry, we cannot stop. The guards are pushing us — down, down into the blackness — toward the new palace, to good luck and safety and everlasting peace, where Father waits.” (Aurelie du Bessancourt, v)
Additionally, Anouk was a great character. Unlike many other protagonists, Anouk finds herself antisocial, sarcastic, and rather hopeless. Her witty sense of humor and down-to-earth nature makes for a very different feel that I thoroughly enjoyed. However, it was the ending that was my favorite aspect of Anouk’s story.
While this book is meant for teens, it is easily enjoyed by adults as well. For a younger audience, I would hesitate to recommend this book, merely because of the suspense and short references to violence and gore. However, it was a very “clean” book overall. The language is rare to non-existent and there is no sensuality in the storyline.
So if you’re looking for a fantastic book, full of suspense and mystery, pick up A Drop of Night. You won’t regret it.