The Romance Reviews (Carole)'s Reviews > Nightkeepers

Nightkeepers by Jessica Andersen
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4.5 stars out of 5.0 stars

"Great angst and conflict, and incredible worldbuilding. A must read!"

If you were like me and thought "I've watched 2012 and I don't need to read a book on the Mayan doomsday prophecy", you'd have missed out on a lot. Just the prologue of this book alone packed quite a huge punch and, though I thought I wouldn't like the book much, I was soon so caught up in the story that I used whatever free time I could snatch to read.

Strike knew he was a Nightkeeper, one of the few left to defend mankind should the end come at the Great Conjunction as it was foretold. At the same time, he hoped that his father's sacrifice twenty-four years ago to close the barrier was successful. No such luck. Not only is the end time coming, but how was he to win the war with so few of them (those who had escaped the massacre)? To top it all off, he may need to sacrifice Leah, the woman he's come to love, in order to save the world.

Jessican Andersen delivers on this book with its great angst and conflict, incredible worldbuilding and believable character development. Strike was the one who grew the most as he struggles with his birthright, his duties and responsibilities and his love for the one woman he needed to sacrifice to save a world that didn't know they needed saving. Leah was a bit overshadowed as the reader was pulled into the Nightkeepers' world and facts were revealed about their magic system and hierarchy. Learning about the world that Ms. Andersen created is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the book for me. (Could be why I also love to read fantasies.)

As I said, the prologue hooked me in with the action, the tension, the possible romance and the eventual heartbreak. The author's portrayal of duty over love was so on the dot that it was the first time I felt it so keenly (as compared to other books). There's also a longer prologue at the author's website, but I feel that the shortened prologue made a bigger impact on me as a reader than the longer one.

After Strike knew there were other Nightkeepers in the world, people whom he could call to join him in the fight to save the world, he began assembling his army. Short screen time was given to several of these Nightkeepers and their winikin (bonded servants to the Nightkeepers), but instead of feeling as though these were introductions to future couple pairings, they added depth to the world that Ms. Andersen was trying to portray. The changing group dynamics was also done well, in my opinion.

A problem I have with the story is the resolution of Strike's quandary with sacrificing Leah. Since this book is a romance, I don't think it's a spoiler if I say there's a happy ending and Leah is saved with Strike managing to save the world at the same time in this battle. Maybe I was reading too fast (and too lazy to re-read) but I was a bit confused as to how this came about.

Another problem is the way the characters sometimes were controlled by forces outside of their control, meaning the gods or the demons or what not. Like they did something but they don't want to do it and it's not them doing it as there was something else controlling their body. I'm not sure I like this device being used so often in the story, especially when the character's actions were needed to move the story forward. But then, if you look at it from another angle, Strike is just an emissary of the gods, just as the human Zipacna is a representation of the crocodile god from the underworld. The real battle of good vs evil is between the gods and the demons, and this could be used to justify the way both good and evil powers sometimes manipulate their pawns.
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