Literature / Nightfall Series

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Was she forgetting what it meant to be human?

Nightfall is a young adult dystopian fantasy series by Elena May. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the books combine elements of science fiction, medieval history, and classical vampire mythology with a twist.

The books so far are:

  • Kingdom of Ashes (2016)
  • Men and Monsters (2018)

Myra never witnessed the Nightfall. She has only heard stories from the eldest among them; tales of the Old World and of the scientists who invented the Weather Wizard—a technological innovation that controls the weather. Unfortunately, the device also gave an ambitious vampire prince the means to cover the world in impenetrable clouds, allowing his armies to crawl out of their caves and conquer all.

Vampires rule over the New World, breeding humans for food. After fifty years of guerrilla warfare, the Resistance is fading, its supplies dwindling. They must rally and succeed—and soon—or all hope of restoring human civilization will be lost.

When Myra goes on a desperate mission to help the Resistance, she ends up a captive in the vampires’ palace. With time running out, she must find a way to stop Prince Vladimir, and every wrong step leads to the death of innocents. Her battle abilities prove useless, but Myra discovers she has another skill that can give her an edge over her captors. Now, Myra must defeat the vampire leader at a power game he has been playing for almost two millennia.


Kingdom of Ashes provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Many girls and women at the Resistance turn into one by necessity. Most notably Lydia and Alerie.
  • Affably Evil: Prince Vladimir has destroyed human civilization and isn’t above Cold-Blooded Torture or killing children to further his goals. At the same time, he’s very polite to his enemies and even gives Myra writing tips.
  • The Ageless: All vampires.
  • Anti-Villain: Prince Vladimir has elements of this. While he is obviously evil, he is doing what is best for his people.
  • The Apprentice: Myra unwillingly becomes one to Prince Vladimir as he teaches her to be a better writer.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Prince Vladimir is the Big Bad. Although he only becomes a prince after the Nightfall, it’s implied that he was a nobleman before he was turned.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Sissi to Myra: “You mean to tell me you regret these past two months? You wish you had never been captured and none of this had happened to you?”
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: If a vampire overpowers another and drinks their blood, the loser has to recognize the winner's authority. Prince Vladimir had to resort to this tactic before he could become the leader of all vampires.
  • Back Story: Tristan's backstory is revealed late in the first book. Prince Vladimir's backstory is so far a mystery, with a few hints dropped.
  • Bad Liar: Myra starts out as one. Prince Vladimir is determined to teach her how to lie better (even though she's the one sent to assassinate him and he knows it) as he loves a challenge.
  • The Baroness: The Duchess is a vampire dominatrix, who cheerfully feeds humans to her vampire sub while she feeds off him.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Myra, Tristan, and Prince Vladimir encounter one during Myra's first hunt. It leads to one of the most tense action sequences in the first book.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Most humans at the Resistance seem to think so as they associate beauty with vampires. Myra’s cousin, Thea, argues that beauty isn’t inherently right or wrong.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Myra wishes to leave the Resistance hideout and see the outside world. When it finally happens, she is captured by the enemy.
  • Big Bad: Prince Vladimir has conquered the world and destroyed human civilization. Now, he breeds the surviving humans in farms for food and forces the Resistance to live in constant fear and on the brink of extinction.
  • Big Bad Friend: Myra ends up developing a twisted, love-hate friendship with Prince Vladimir, to the point that he is even giving her tips on how to defeat him.
  • Black Cloak: Prince Vladimir often wears one.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The Big Bad trio - Tristan / Vladimir / Armida
  • Blood Brothers: Vampires can become this after drinking each other’s blood.
  • Blood Oath: Myra and Armida strike one. It is more binding to Armida, who is a vampire and cannot break a blood oath.
  • Book Burning: An unusual example. Myra burns her own book so that the vampires wouldn't get what they need. She hates doing it because she loves books and considers this the greatest story she has ever written. Prince Vladimir lampshades this and askes her if she knows what kind of people historically burned books.
  • Brainy Brunette: Myra is a bookworm, who joins the mission against Prince Vladimir because she can contribute with her ideas. When she ends up a captive in the palace, she needs to rely on her wits to survive. Prince Vladimir himself serves as a villainous male example.
  • Byronic Hero: Prince Vladimir is very intelligent, sophisticated, and educated, but also self-centered and evil. Tristan also fits, including the time before he became a vampire.
  • Character Focus: Tristan and Franka are side characters, but each gets a chapter from their point of view.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Myra is introduced as an aspiring writer. This is the reason Prince Vladimir keeps her alive.
  • Chess Motifs: Prince Vladimir uses them when he explains his power games.
  • The Chessmaster: Prince Vladimir is always ten steps ahead of his opponents.
  • Child Soldiers: Discussed and averted. The Resistance is severely undermanned and everyone is needed in the fight, but their commander refuses to let anyone under sixteen fight. Opinions on this policy vary among Resistance warriors.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: After Prince Vladimir recaptures Bastien, he orders Yong to torture him to show his ‘children’ what happens when they disobey.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Myra is loyal to the Resistance. Still, she won’t let them kill Vladimir and helps him escape from the cave.
  • Costume Porn: Vampires are vain and always wear ornate clothing, which is described in detail.
  • Cub Cues Protective Parent: Myra has grown up in hiding and has hardly ever been outside. She's overjoyed when she sees a cute, cuddly, fluffy animal. Unfortunately, it's a bear cub and the mother is coming.
  • Cultured Badass: Prince Vladimir can discuss opera and give you writing lessons while beating you to a pulp.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: Prince Vladimir is a villainous example. He can outsmart all of his opponents while tricking them into doing exactly what he wants them to do.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Prince Vladimir's entire human family was executed. However, he never uses this as an excuse and owns his evilness.
  • Dark Chick: Armida is this in the vampire Power Trio.
  • Dark Mistress: Armida to Vladimir
  • A Day in the Limelight: Both Franka and Tristan are side characters, but each gets a chapter on their backstory.
  • The Dead Can Dance: Vampires constantly throw elaborate balls.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Myra, Zack, Alerie, Franka, Tristan, and Vladimir all have their moments.
    Vladimir: Besides, you are the only person to call me Vlad. As I have told you before, this is not even the proper way to shorten my name.
    Myra: Fair enough. What is the proper short form, then?
    Vladimir: 'Your Highness' works.
  • Delighting in Riddles: Prince Vladimir puts Myra through a series of tests to determine is she is useful to him alive. She must answer his riddles without knowing what he is looking for and what is a part of the test.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Millennia of existence can do that to you. Prince Vladimir is constantly looking for new challenges. Even conquering the world gets boring after a while.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Prince Vladimir has developed elaborate plans for Myra and the Resistance. Everything goes smoothly, she falls into all of his traps, until she escapes. He has never considered that Armida, his lover, has plans of her own, and Myra comes up with a way to use them.
  • Distressed Dude: Tristan ends up as one at the end.
  • The Dragon: Tristan to Prince Vladimir, although the servants mostly describe him as ‘The Puppy.’
  • Eccentric Mentor: Strangely enough, Vladimir becomes one to Myra, as he teaches her how to be a better writer.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Prince Vladimir loves Armida and Tristan to the point that he is willing to sacrifice himself for them when the Resistance traps them all in the cave.
  • Evil Is Cool: In-Universe example: Myra struggles with this when she arrives in the Palace. All vampires she meets are undeniably evil, but for the first time she has access to theater, opera, balls, and huge libraries.
  • The Evil Prince: Prince Vladimir is the Big Bad.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Tristan is the most angelic creature Myra has encountered, and one of the most wicked. She lampshades this at a few points.
  • Fantastic Racism: Prince Vladimir claims that vampires are a superior species, which puts them on top of the food chain. Myra points out that they are not even a different species – just dead humans.
  • Fatal Flaw: The book has a case of a villain with a 'Fatal Virtue,' which is his greatest weakness. Prince Vladimir is the Big Bad, who has destroyed human civilization and is breeding the survivors for vampire food. However, he is in love with human art and literature, and this is the only thing the heroes can use against him.
  • First-Name Basis: Myra tries to call the Prince ‘Vlad’ instead of ‘my lord’ or ‘your Highness.’ It’s a bad idea, and in response, the Prince decides to teach her her place.
    • “You are not my friend, and you are not my enemy. To me, you are food. You belong on my plate.”
  • Food Porn: After growing up at the Resistance, where she had to survive on scraps and rats, Myra ends up in the vampire’s palace. During their first meeting, Prince Vladimir treats her to an elaborate dinner and practically gives her a lesson in gastronomy and wine-tasting. She is shocked since she has always viewed food as a means of survival and not something to enjoy.
  • Forced to Watch: Myra is forced to watch Bastien’s torture, after Vladimir tells the Farm humans that she is the one responsible.
  • Freudian Excuse: Subverted. It’s implied that Prince Vladimir has a traumatic past, but it’s never used as an excuse, and he is unapologetic about destroying the world.
  • Friendly Enemy: Prince Vladimir is very friendly with Myra, taking her to balls and performances, and teaching her how to write, although he knows she is there to assassinate him. Armida also serves as this to Myra.
  • Frozen Fashion Sense: Some vampires wear clothes from their human times. Most combine styles from all times and places they have experienced.
  • Genre-Busting: A fantasy / action / adventure / science fiction / historical / post-apocalyptic / dystopian story, in which the young heroine doesn’t fall in love with the Prince of Darkness.
  • Genre Savvy: Prince Vladimir. He even lampshades this after Myra’s Scheherezade Gambit:
    • “What are you doing, girl? Do you think you can pull a Scheherazade on me? You must know by now that I am too genre savvy to fall for that.”
  • Gentleman Snarker: Prince Vladimir is a villainous example.
  • A Glass of Chianti: Prince Vladimir is often seen with a glass of red wine in his hand, sipping slowly and discussing its qualities. For a certain special occasion, he switches to champagne and uses the opportunity to educate Myra on the history of champagne and how it’s related to the period of Enlightment.
  • The Ghost: Lucien. He is mentioned as one of the vampires hoping to take Vladimir’s place. The Prince seems to think he is worse that the Duchess, who is already terrifying.
  • Good Is Boring: See also Evil Is Cool. Myra loves her friends at the Resistance, but cannot find anyone who understands her love for literature. Vampires, while evil, can open her mind in ways she had never imagined.
  • Good Night, Sweet Prince: Lampshaded by Myra as she prepares to kill Vladimir.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Both humans and vampires make some morally dubious decisions, but both sides have redeeming qualities.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Prince Vladimir claims this is the case with the Farm humans. Myra refuses to believe it.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Myra fears she can’t defeat the vampires without becoming as evil as them.
  • Hidden Depths: At first, Tristan appears nothing more than a vain Pretty Boy whose only redeeming quality is his Undying Loyalty to Vladimir. And then his Back Story comes along...
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: Averted. Vampires are not only able to drink wine, but do so a lot. Especially the Wicked Cultured Magnificent Bastard Prince Vladimir is always seen with A Glass of Chianti in his hand.
  • The Idealist: Myra starts out as one. It doesn’t last long.
  • I Love You, Vampire Son: Vladimir has turned Armida and Tristan and loves them both.
  • Immortality Begins at 20: Averted with Vladimir, who becomes a vampire in his thirties. Played straight with Armida and Tristan, who are both turned in their twenties.
  • La Résistance: The Resistance.
  • The Lancer: Franka becomes one to Myra and constantly challenges any decision she makes.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Prince Vladimir certainly thinks so. He has used his many years to travel the world, learn forty-two languages, and expand his knowledge in a variety of subjects. He does sometimes get bored, but he never laments his immortality. Instead, he constantly seeks new excitements (such as conquering the world and killing billions.)
  • Long Haired Prettyboy: Tristan is described as a Pretty Boy by both his friends and his enemies. And he has long, platinum-blond hair.
  • MacGuffin: The Weather Wizard. The plot is set in motion because the Resistance seeks to destroy it, but it never appears in the first book.
  • The Makeover: Tristan offers to give Myra a vampire makeover. She’s not amused.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Prince Vladimir doesn’t need to force you to do anything. He can convince you to do exactly what he wants you to do, while you think it has always been your idea and you are in full control.
  • Monster Fangirl: Sissi has become obsessed with Prince Vladimir, the Big Bad who has destroyed the world and is breeding the surviving humans for vampire food. She's drawing pictures of him and is writing stories about him. She ends up at the Resistance because she's gone on a probably deadly journey to meet him.
  • Moral Dilemma: Myra has a chance to kill Prince Vladimir, but in a very dishonorable way that would destroy her humanity.
  • Mr. Fanservice: All vampires are beautiful, but Tristan in particular is described as a ‘Pretty Boy’ by friends and enemies alike.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Tristan is completely devoted to Vladimir, so much that many call him the Prince’s puppy.
  • Not So Different: To Myra’s horror, she realizes she has more in common with vampires than she would like to admit.
  • Of Corset Hurts: Myra is forced into a corset by Lucy prior to wearing the dress Prince Vladimir "gifted" to her (See Pimped-Out Dress). She not only experiences physical discomfort from tightlacing, but also conveys reservations about wearing one beforehand when she sees Lucy pull it out of her bag.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • No fear of garlic or crosses.
    • Reflections appear in mirrors.
    • The dark magic that makes vampires alive also circulates their blood (they wouldn’t bleed when wounded otherwise), and thus they are not deathly pale.
    • Also, they can consume human food and drink although it has no nutritional value for them. If left without blood for days, they grow very weak, to the point when they become unable to move on their own until someone feeds them.
    • The most important difference is also a major plot point: vampires are unable to create art.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Prince Vladimir forces Myra to wear one. She hates it since she realizes he picked it specifically because it would limit her movements and would make escape attempts more difficult.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: Myra, when she tries to stop Prince Vladimir from killing the boy from the human farm. She even stops snarking and calls him ‘my lord’ and ‘your Highness,’ which she had repeatedly refused to do before. It doesn’t work.
  • Polyamory: Indira teaches Myra some vampire customs:
    Indira: Most vampires are polyamorous. It’s not uncommon to be in love with a few at the same time.
    Myra: Why does everything I learn about vampires involve either blood-drinking or orgies?
    Indira: It is not either one or the other. The blood-drinking is a part of the orgies.
  • Pretty Boy: Tristan. Doubles as a Long Haired Prettyboy.
  • The Quest: Subverted. Myra, whose limited knowledge of the outside world is based on books, imagines herself going on one. Nothing goes as planned.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Resistance, even lampshaded by Myra.
  • Redhead In Green: Armida wears green dresses a lot.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Prince Vladimir.
  • Rule of Cool: In-Universe example: Prince Vladimir riding techniques and tricks. Tristan finds them unnecessarily pompous.
  • Sadistic Choice: Myra has to choose if to help Vladimir capture Bastien. If she refuses, Serena will die and Myra will lose her chance to get information on the Weather Wizard. If she agrees, she needs to lie to Serena, Bastien will die, and the Farm humans will lose all hope that they can escape.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Tristan is devoted to Vladimir in every way, but isn’t above snarking at his master.
  • Scheherezade Gambit: Myra tries to pull one. It doesn’t work.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Armida
  • Skewed Priorities: At points, Myra seems more concerned with preserving art and science, and even developing her own writing skills, than with ensuring the enemy is defeated and humanity survives. Zack, Alerie, Franka, and even Prince Vladimir call her out on it multiple times.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Tristan casually sitting sideways on Prince Vladimir’s throne when he receives Myra.
  • Stalker With a Crush: Sissi to Vladimir
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Prince Vladimir
  • Took a Level in Badass: Myra starts out as a naive coward, but by the end of the first book learns to play the power games at court.
  • Vampire Monarch: Prince Vladimir
  • Vampires Are Rich: In Tristan’s backstory, Prince Vladimir is already rich and living like a nobleman. Myra guesses he steals money from his victims, but Tristan insists that Vladimir has never been a common thief.
  • Villainous Friendship: Tristan and Vladimir are both evil and are very close friends.
  • Undying Loyalty: A villainous version – Tristan is completely devoted to Vladimir, so much that many call him the Prince’s puppy.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Myra makes some naive choices and misses an opportunity to kill Prince Vladimir. Franka has no problem calling her out.
  • Wicked Cultured: Prince Vladimir. He is the Big Bad and a monster, but he is also extremely knowledgeable about and appreciative of history, languages, science, mythology, music, theatre, and literature. He used to be a writer himself, but lost his ability when he became a vampire.
  • Wine Is Classy: Prince Vladimir often has a glass of red wine in his hand. He also talks about it and analyses it’s properties.
  • World of Snark: Both the Resistance humans and Prince Vladimir’s vampires. When a human talks to a vampire, it’s turned up to eleven.
  • Worthy Opponent: Prince Vladimir laments that his life is boring without a worthy enemy. His solution is to teach The Hero, Myra, how to better manipulate him and how to be a more challenging opponent.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Prince Vladimir kills a child to teach Myra she’s not in control.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Myra’s knowledge of the outside world is based on a very limited collection of books. She imagines herself a hero on a quest. It doesn’t take her long to realize she’s in the wrong genre.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Myra looks at the vampire novels in the Resistance’s small library and thinks about how Old World fiction used to romanticize vampires. She wonders if any of the authors would exchange places with her and live the reality.
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