Modern-day teenagers meet a palace of terrors locked up since the French Revolution in this surprising and haunting thriller from Stefan Bachmann, the internationally bestselling author of The Peculiar and The Whatnot. A Drop of Night will thrill fans of Neal Shusterman and Jessica Khoury. Seventeen-year-old Anouk has finally caught the break she’s been looking for—she’s been chosen to participate in an exclusive program that includes an all-expense-paid trip to France and a chance to explore the hidden underground Palais des Papillons, or Palace of Butterflies. Along with four other gifted teenagers, Anouk will be one of the first people to set foot in the palace in more than two hundred years. Bachmann’s masterful scene-building alternates between Anouk’s flight through the palace and the struggles of Aurelie, who escaped the French Revolution by fleeing into the Palais des Papillons in 1792.
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Seventeen-year-old Anouk is excited to be a part of a group that has been selected to travel to France and explore the hidden underground Palais du Papillon, or Palace of the Butterfly. Four other gifted teens join her on the journey which isn't at all what she thought.
First off, I loved the suspense that begins right on the first page with Anouk. She's not exactly 'likable' and tries hard to alienate herself from not only her adoptive parents but others as well. The other teens in her group are a little bit more likable and try to engage with her. Once in France, things go horribly wrong. Anouk breaks out of her shell and learns she has to rely on others in order to survive.
Intriguing premise of teens caught underground with sinister consequences. Booby traps are everywhere ready to ensnare the teens. The adults that promised them a trip of a life time in fact have a hidden agenda which could cost them their lives.
There's twists and turns throughout this story as well as some reveals that help put together the puzzle of why the teens were selected. The novel goes back and forth in time. Sometimes I find this plot device jarring but not this time. Readers get a glimpse of Aurelie du Bessancourt and what lead up to the Palace being built back in 1789. There's also clues in these excerpts that pertain to Anouk and the others.
I did find some of the revelations at times a little too hard to believe. The Frankenstein-like immortality wasn't fully developed. I had lots of questions on how some of the things that Anouk and the others encountered could in fact really happen. Also the whole not great adoptive parent premise made me cringe a little. I would have liked to have seen some interaction between Anouk and her parents to see why she wanted so much to distance herself from them.
Overall though, I did enjoy the action, suspense, and thrill.
Suspenseful, chilling ride through an underground tunnel in France where one mistake could cost you your life.
2. Intriguing premise of teens being selected to go to a hidden underground palace
3. I Know What You Did Last Night meets Frankenstein
We've all heard the phrase 'If somethings seems too good to be true, it usually is.' Well - either these teens hadn't or thought they were too intelligent to be scammed, but it sure made for an interesting setup in this story. No spoilers here, but the underground palace is full of surprises - most of them the hair-raising, nail-biting kind - and I can't say I've read anything quite like this in the YA genre.
There's a dual narrative in this book, both equally important and connected. I immediately liked Anouk's voice. She's snarky, intelligent, pessimistic, and a bit full of herself - but she's also persistent and determined when a lot of people would throw out the white flag and assume the fetal position.
I was a little disappointed with the reveal near the end - it felt more like an info dump. If some hints had been sprinkled throughout the story, giving the reader a bigger sense of mystery and allowing them to form theories, it would have been a more satisfying ready for me instead of a quasi-Scooby-Doo moment.
A Drop of Night is equal parts thrilling, chilling, and mysterious - a highly enjoyable read for me. Thanks to Edelweiss for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review