Two Minute Review: A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann

Saturday, March 12, 2016
Title: A Drop of Night
Author: Stefan Bachmann
Genre: horror, science fiction, historical fiction, thriller
Series: N/A
Pages: 464
Published: expected March 15 2016
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 2.5/5

Seventeen-year-old Anouk has finally caught the break she’s been looking for—she's been 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 has lain hidden and forgotten ever since. Anouk, along with several other gifted teenagers, will be the first to set foot in it in over two centuries.

Or so she thought.

But nothing is as it seems, and the teens 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. . .

A genre-bending thriller from Stefan Bachmann for fans of The Maze Runner and Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods.

You cannot escape the palace.

You cannot guess its secrets.

For the first thirty-five percent or so of its 464 pages, A Drop of Night and I were getting along pretty well; the plot felt somewhat familiar but engaging despite that. For all that I was much more involved in the historical storyline also being told in alternating chapters, I was curious to see how it would tie together with the current plotline featuring the five teens, set hundreds of years later. However, after about 170 - 175 pages in, the other elements of Bachmann's genre mashup of a novel are introduced and that is where he began to lose me as a reader.

A Drop of Night is just too jumbled, on the whole, for me to enjoy as a reading experience. I did finish it, but it was a determination game for the last 100 straight pages.  I like that the author is inventive in approaching his story, but there was just too much in the narrative. A Drop of Night is just not just speculative, or science fiction; it's also very clearly a horror novel, in addition to elements of a thriller, and also partly a historical fiction novel about a family during the Troubles in France. 

As a very selective horror fan when it comes to the genre, I need more mentality to the horror and less thud-in-the-dark, pop-out-behind-approach taken here. The book just worked better for me when the suspense was building that omg there is something wrong here feel of the beginning, rather than when it was overt and more generic horror of the middle and end. There are admittedly some moments of real creepiness and a few good twists behind the plot and characters, if you can hang in through a somewhat fast-paced but often very confusing read to get to those moments.

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