Friday, April 1, 2016

A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann

A group of teens has been hand picked to be part of a highly secretive exploratory mission inside the historic, and hidden, Palais du Papillon. Built during the French Revolution, the Palais was an underground fortress meant to protect one of France's most elite families. Until now, though, the palace was thought to have been nothing more than an extravagant rumor. The discovery will go down in history and Anouk is set to be one of the very first to enter.

Anouk isn't sure why she was chosen to be part of the excavation team, and at first she doesn't really care. After all, it means an escape from the family she barely tolerates and an adventure she'll never forget. But when she and the other teens arrive in France, Anouk realizes she has more than a few questions about the whole thing. Why would a group of teens be picked to be part of an archaeological exploration in the first place? And why all the rigorous training and testing? Furthermore, why would she and the others need to be drugged before they can enter the Palais?

A Drop of Night was a weird read and one that I'm so on the fence about. While I actually thought it was fun, I definitely can't say that I loved it.

There are two story lines - one set in the 1780s following a teen named Aurélie and one set present day following Anouk. Aurélie's father is the one who built the Palais, a home that would keep them safe while the revolt was happening aboveground in Paris. But Aurélie, who has very little interaction with her father, doesn't understand why her own mother refuses to take sanctuary in their new abode. Their story seemed so disjointed set alongside the present day narrative - almost like I was reading what was initially intended to be two separate books.

Anouk was snarky as all get out, something I usually appreciate with context. By the time we get an explanation for it, though, the book was almost over. The premise in her timeline was intriguing though: five teens joining in on a top secret archaeological exploration. It's a wonder our heroine doesn't worry about it before she hops the plane, though, considering SHE HAS NO PARTICULAR ARCHAEOLOGY BACKGROUND?! I never really felt the author sold me on the idea that a half) or wholly) intelligent teen would believe there was a logical reason they'd been chosen for something like this, much less that their parents would believe it (though Anouk does it in secret the other four teens have their parents' permission).

Things got fairly cool once the kids were in the palace itself. Cool in the sense that stuff started to happen and there was danger and BLOOD. It never did become believable in any kind of context. Let's just say my suspension of disbelief was never really in full effect.

I'm hesitant to say exactly what came to mind while reading A Drop of Night because I'd consider it to be something of a spoiler, but I will say the very first truly horror scene is straight out of a very recognizable movie. That was quite disappointing. In fact, that's pretty much how the book felt - a little bit of this from one pop culture reference, a little bit of that from another pop culture reference, a mish mash of things I'd seen elsewhere with a smattering of unique storyline thrown in for good measure.

That unique storyline was promising, but there wasn't enough of it. The history of the Palais and Aurélie's family was given in such small doses and never truly fleshed out. The Palais, which had a lot of potential to be both crazy pants out there and super fun, was also not touched on as much as I would have liked.

A Drop of Night wasn't awful by any stretch. It was enjoyable, just not terribly memorable.

Rating: 2.5/5

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