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Slow Wanes the Night by Catherine Labadie

book cover of Slow Wanes the Night

I was wiping away tears by the end of this book, it moved me that much. I had to have a bit of a giggle when I got to the acknowledgements and it said something about how flattering it was that one of the early readers cried at the ending, because it was like, “Hey! Me too!” This is definitely one of those books that got me invested emotionally – which shouldn't be that surprising, because the first one, Long Grows the Dark, completely sucked me in with the tension between its four main characters.

So ordinarily I wouldn't dream of rating a book that got me to cry any less than five stars, but Slow Wanes the Night did have one flaw, which was that the first half felt so slow. Like, so slow. I suppose it was purposeful, dwelling as it did on the loneliness of the main characters after the bittersweet ending of the last book, making it incredibly exciting when the barriers between them started falling away in the second half. And it's not like nothing was happening, either. Things happen. Everleigh was battling to gain respect as Starford's new ruler, and also investigate some supernatural menace; Gwendoline and Niles were trying to search for four lords of the land, while the emotional distance between them grows to become a yawning crevasse. There was good stuff there, it was just a bit too slow to hold my attention reliably.

Thankfully, like I say, everything switched gears in the second half. The main characters have to actually start dealing with some of the fears and resentments keeping them apart, as their enemies become much clearer and more threatening. The atmosphere electrifies! There's a skin-crawling scene where the “baddies” reveal themselves, and then an incredible sex scene shortly after. The climax (which takes up the last fifth of the book) is all so tense and unpredictable, it had me glued to my screen for the hour and a half it took to read it. And then, yes, the epilogue reduced me to tears. I'd hesitate to call it “bittersweet”, but there was a real note of sadness to the happy ending that I found very moving.

Overall, this is a worthy follow-up to Long Grows the Dark, even if the first half demanded a little persistence from me. The ending is just brilliant, making this a must-read if you enjoyed the first book.

★★★★

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.