Atmospheric and tense, Gone by Nightfall will enthrall historical fiction fans and snare readers who tend to shy away from the genre. This one is simply phenomenal.
Rating: 4.75 stars
A copy of this eARC was provided to me by the publisher through Edelweiss.plus. The decision to review and all opinions expressed are completely my own and not influenced in any way.
Gone by Nightfall
Author: Dee Garretson
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: January 21, 2020
Synopsis: It’s 1917, and Charlotte Mason is determined to make a life for herself in czarist Russia. When her mother dies, Charlotte is forced to put her plans to go to medical school aside to care for her unruly siblings. Then a handsome new tutor arrives. Charlotte has high hopes that he’ll stay, freeing her up to follow her dreams of becoming a doctor. But there’s more to Dmitri that meets the eye.
Just when she thinks she can get her life back, Russia descends into revolution and chaos. Now, not only does Charlotte need to leave Russia, she needs to get her siblings out too–and fast.
Can Charlotte flee Russia, keep her siblings safe, and uncover Dmitri’s many secrets before she runs out of time?
I don’t tend to read much historical fiction. No particular reason, I just prefer my stories to have dragons or spaceships. But I was drawn to Gone by Nightfall’s premise and felt the time had come for my random historical fiction read.
Best decision ever.
Set in Russia in 1917, the story follows a young American, Charlotte Mason and she tries to care for her large and unruly family in the aftermath of her mother’s death, while also helping to run the women’s hospital her mother founded before she died. With her father recently securing a tutor, the mysterious and handsome Dmitri, for her rambunctious brothers, Charlotte finally feels like her life in Russia may finally be mellowing down. But the whispers of revolution are turning to screams and as the political situation worsens, Charlotte realizes she must find a way to safely flee the country with her family.
Though Gone by Nightfall may start off a little slow as it establishes the past and present of the Mason/Cherkassky household, there is no denying that this book becomes addicting as the political tensions flare. From about the halfway point of the book, I never wanted to stop reading. I was even reading the book on my phone during a work meeting (during the parts with discussion that didn’t affect my department, of course!). Garretson deftly draws out the tension and then ties the reader into knots as the action explodes. It has been a long time since I’ve been so enthralled by a story.
There are slower moments in the book, because we as readers need time to breathe, but no moment felt out of place or just there for filler. The atmosphere Garretson builds is nothing short of epic. You can feel the bite of winter wind and the simmering rage of the Russian people as you read. But the descriptions and building of the world are done in such a way that you hardly notice, you are just instantly transported into the book as you read. Garretson makes it seem effortless, but you can tell the care she put into crafting this story.
I think the most well written part of the story was the characters, in particular Charlotte’s brothers and sisters. The children made me want to tear my hair out at any given time and shriek at the children right along with Charlotte, but that just shows me how well they were written. And Charlotte just breaks my heart, but she is so strong. Watching her navigate her world, without the help of her mother, is heart-wrenching, but she proves her strength time and again. I didn’t get as much depth as I wanted from Dmitri, but he was still perfectly swoon worthy. The romance in this one is light and sweet, but I found myself more interested in the plight of the family as they try to escape Russia.
Considering I tuned most of my history classes out during highschool, I can’t speak to the exact historical accuracy of the novel, but Garretson has notes at the end of the novel with her inspirations and references to the actual events. I think that such a complex and turbulent time in Russian history would be difficult to perfectly encompass in any book, let alone a YA novel that is barely over 300 pages, but Garretson brilliantly brings to life the tension and uncertainty of that time period.
While this novel will certainly be more focused towards fans of historical fiction, I urge readers of all genres to give this one a try. The world building can compare to any other YA fantasy or sci fi novel, the tension could stand up against any thriller, and the romance will be sure to enrapture any contemporary reader. In short, stop reading this review and go pick up a copy of Gone by Nightfall.