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.
Bachmann (The Peculiar) moves from middle-grade to YA with an uneven horror/suspense novel. Anouk, 17 and angry, jumps at the chance to join what might be the archeological expedition of the century: the exploration of a hitherto unknown underground palace in France. She and four other teens have been chosen for the expedition by the mysterious Sapani family, which owns the rights to the palace. Running parallel to this narrative is the story of Aur lie, daughter of the nobleman who created the palace as a refuge from the French Revolution. For Aur lie, the palace was a place of terror, and those terrors prove every bit as real for Anouk, more than two centuries later. Bachmann's writing is as polished as in his earlier books the violence is fittingly gruesome, the decadent and mazelike palace is gorgeously described, and Anouk has an engagingly snarky narrative voice. But the story itself can lose its way amid a lot of frantic running around pursued by half-seen monsters, all building to a fairly pulpy big reveal. Ages 13 up.
I'm reading this book at work right now, and it's pretty good. I feel it keeps me on my toes. Gets a little weird, but I'm likin' it!