Dark Faerie Tales's Reviews > Darkness Before Dawn

Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London
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Jul 03, 2012

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Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: While predictable, this novel does have some lovable characters and great suspense that will keep readers interested and turning pages.

Opening Sentence: As the carriage rolled across the desolate plains, the assassin slid his gaze over to his traveling companions.

The Review:

Darkness Before Dawn begins with the murder of Denver’s delegates, on Lord Valentine’s orders. Except, only the reader knows it was by Valentine’s command. As far as the characters know it was just another rogue vampire. Denver lost its best representatives to the vampires, but Dawn Montgomery lost her parents. Rachel (her new guardian), Tegan and Michael are the last three people Dawn loves that haven’t died. Her brother was attacked by a vampire in their apartment years ago — saving Dawn from the monster. When Valentine asks — or rather, demands, Dawn be made the next delegate after her parents, she only has two months of training before she’s on the job. Fortunately, she learned a lot from her parents. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to keep her alive.

Because if there’s one thing Old Family vampires like, it’s playing mind games. When a young man who saved Dawn and her friend from a vampire attack turns out to be Valentine’s son, well, that’s one mind game she isn’t prepared for. But Victor isn’t like other vampires. He’s in control, for one thing. Not that Dawn is strong enough to stake him — with age comes power and Victor is about 400 years old, but it is nice he doesn’t lunge at her every time he enters the scene. Victor’s playing a dangerous game, hiding inside the city. The VampHu treaty established after the war makes all humans outside the wall and all vampires inside fair game.

Knowing she should turn him in, Dawn still hesitates. He saved her life, after all, so she owes him a bit, but in a lot of ways her behavior in the middle of the novel is conflicting with the character London tried so hard to develop in the first few chapters. She’s brave and smart, and above all things hates vampires. It’s not the fact that she doesn’t turn him in I don’t like — bad decisions make great stories, after all — it’s the fact her reason was “it’s not a good time.” In a lot of ways London has made Dawn’s life into a rollercoaster, which makes it a page turning read, but it also makes a lot of what’s going on predictable. I can understand trying to strengthen the tension — in a lot of places this book does a great job of it, but it’s really hard for your reader to care when they already know what’s going to happen.

Just because it’s predictable, doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. Don’t get me wrong, if nothing else, I would’ve kept reading for Michael and Victor. Michael is the best-friend-turned-boyfriend and good for her. Or he would be if he wasn’t so busy becoming a Night Watchman and trying to prove himself. As it is, both Dawn and Michael are busy…which makes Victor, the totally unsuitable handsome vampire, the obvious romantic complication. I like them both. I mean, this isn’t the kind of book I’m on a Team for — I just couldn’t get that invested, but it was fun to watch some jealous sparks fly. Honestly, it’s the fact I didn’t get invested that really bothers me. It’s hard to read 300 pages when you don’t care about the characters you’re reading. Though each character did have their moments.

For Dawn, as an example, it was the grief she faces over losing her brother and her parents. The emotions were very well done and the voice brought everything to the surface. I wish there was more of this style pulled into writing the plot of the book, because I think it’s what made it unique and Dawn a more rounded heroine. While I’ll be picking up Blood-Kissed Sky when it comes out, I’m not going to be bumping it to the top of my TBR pile or bouncing with anticipation. It’s a book a lot like many others. It hits the high points of both the dystopian science-fiction crowd and the paranormal vampire genre, and I hope the second book does more to support the crossover.

Notable Scene:

“It’s okay. It’s probably Agency business. He’s a Night Watchman.” Her eyes go wide and she slaps her hand over her mouth. “Oops! I wasn’t supposed to say that. I’m sorry, Victor, one special lemonade too many, I guess.”

I can tell that Michael is conflicted. He doesn’t like Victor, but if he’s a Night Watchman—how can he not admire him?

“Uh, yeah. Tegan’s right. Agency business. I’ll just be a minute.” I grab Victor’s arm and herd him toward the hallway that leads to the restrooms. When we get to the dimly lit, empty hallway I whisper harshly, “What were you thinking? Why are you here?”

“I need your help. I was waiting outside your apartment, got impatient, and came looking for you.”

“Victor—“

“I need blood.”

FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Darkness Before Dawn. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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