Review: A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon

It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for, Samantha Shannon’s much anticipated prequel to The Priory of The Orange Tree, A Day of Fallen Night.

Set five hundred years before the events of The Priory of The Orange Tree, A Day of Fallen Night is divided into four view points, Glorian, Dumai, Tunuva and Wulf. I often find multiple POV books tiresome, with characters not clearly differentiated between but that’s certainly not an issue. Each character has a strongly defined sense of self, a unique emotional arc and individual tone of voice. I related more strongly to Glorian and Tunuva’s chapters, but I didn’t feel a need to skip through or rush Wulf and Dumai’s, they all held my attention equally, which again is quite unusual for me. I loved how the complexity of the relationships each character had with religion was explored, and how each character dealt with the expectations placed on them by their respective positions within their religion.

The complexity of the lore of these lands is astonishing, Shannon has created an intricate web of political and religious systems, as well as a fully fledged history for each individual country. It’s a true testament to the vast amount of work put in that they all still feel unique.

The explorations of what it means to be female in this book are gut wrenching, from femininity to motherhood, duty and innocence, to grief so palpable you’ll yearn with the characters. The way Shannon writes the female experience is unparalleled.

As always, Samantha Shannon’s writing is the real star of the show here, her poetic prose has you not wanting to miss a beat. From the hair on a newborn babies head to the scales on Furtia the dragon’s back, the world created is visceral and tangible. If you’re prone to annotating books, this whole thing is going to end up highlighted.

A Day of Fallen Night may just be Shannon’s queerest book yet, the realms we see are all normalised in their acceptance of sexuality and gender, which I loved. We have a lesbian main character who has been in a committed relationship with a woman for over thirty years, a main character who is implied to be ace-aro, a slow burn M/M romance with a bisexual main character, and a further main character who is a literal lesbian dragon rider. You couldn’t possibly want more, but if you do, there are tons more queer, non-binary, trans and asexual secondary characters.

Overall, A Day of Fallen Night brings a lot more political intrigue to the table than it’s big sister, as well as a bit more romance and queer rep. If you loved Priory, I have no doubts you will love this. If you have yet to read The Priory of The Orange Tree, I’d actually recommend reading this first, as it sets up a lot of the political and historical background for Priory.

A Day of Fallen Night is out February 28th, and you can preorder it here.


Thank you to Bloomsbury for making my year and gifting me an advanced copy of this book.