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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jocelynn Drake: DARK DAYS

Series: DARK DAYS (UF)
Ratings:  V4-5; S4, H1  
Publisher and Titles: Eos
   "The Dead, the Damned, and the Forgotten" in Unbound (2009)
   Nightwalker (2008)
   Dayhunter (2009)
   Dawnbreaker (2009)
   Pray for Dawn (2010)
   Wait for Dusk (2010)
   Burn the Night (2011) 

     A review of the final book in the series (Burn the Night) follows this synopsis of the series so far:

     Mira ("Fire Starter") is a nightwalker (vampire) in Savannah, Georgia. For hundreds of years, the Coven (the nightwalkers' governing body) has used Mira as their enforcer because of her strength and her mastery of fire. The Coven is (of course) filled with corruption and greed, so Mira can't trust anyone there. Now the malevolent naturi are after Mira because they need her special powers to open the gate between their world and the human world.

     The naturi are ancient guardians of the earth who were banished because they believe that the only way to protect the earth is to kill all humans and nightwalkersyou could call them sociopathic environmentalists.

     Another problem for Mira comes in the form of Danaus, a sexy vampire hunter with some serious magical powers and a lot of attitude. In the early books, Mira wonders whether Danaus will kill her or if she can trust him to help her battle the naturi. In later books, the couple develops a romantic relationship, but the trust issues never quite die.

     In addition to the naturi plot line, Mira also has to contend with her discovery that her nightwalker mentors, who taught her everything she knows, have lied to her from the beginning about her parents, about her powers, about their motivationsin fact, about almost everything. The first three books are told from Mira's point of view. Pray for Dawn is told from Danaus's point of view, and in that book Mira is portrayed in a much more objectiveand unsympatheticmanner. Wait for Dusk goes back to Mira's viewpoint.

     In Wait for Dusk, Mira and Danaus visit Budapest to sort out a mishmash of naturi infestations, corrupt vampires, and dark witchcraft. In a subplot, Mira at long last discovers the real truth about her parentageand it's not very pleasantin fact, it's downright disturbing. The frequent "vampire entertainment" scenes are extremely bloody, with many graphic details, and Mira is always right in the thick of the action. This book is definitely rated 5 for violence. 

     In Burn the Night, which is the final book in the series, the first big issues is point of view (POV). The first four chapters are narrated in the first-person by Nyx, protector of the naturi and sister to Aurora (the evil, crazy naturi queen) and Cynnia (the gentle, compromising usurper to the naturi throne). The next four chapters feature first-person narration by Mira. After that, the POV switches back and forth between the two of them. The back-and-forth POV was definitely disconcerting at first, particularly when I automatically assumed that on page one the person speaking was Miraand then discovered that it wasn't, and then had to figure out exactly who was telling the story. I got used to it after awhile, but it's not my favorite way for an author to tell a story.

     The plot of this finale contains four distinct, but interwoven, story lines. First and foremost, Aurora must be stopped from openly attacking the rebellious naturi because that would force the Great Awakening, allowing humans to become aware of the existence of supernaturals. Second, Mira must terminate her treacherous mentor, Jabari, before he kills her. Third, Mira must decide how best to handle her power-mad father before he turns her into nothing more than is puppet. Fourth (and final), Mira must figure out how to defeat the Daylight Coalition, a group of magic haters who are killing werewolves and burning down houses in Savannah. As the story develops, Nyx attempts to bring the banished warrior, Rowe, into Cynnia's fold, along with the animal clan of the naturi. At the same time, Cynnia must convince Mira to assist in the coming battle with Aurora. This is not easy once Mira discovers that she will be fighting on the same side as Rowe, her mortal enemy in all of the previous books. As Mira faces off with her various foes, works on some newly developing powers, and makes her first contact with her Liege (Adio, head of the Coven), she fights for a world in which the various supernatural creatures can achieve a peacefulif not permanentcoexistence. All of the plot threads come together satisfactorily in the end, although a few of them seemed just a bit forced.

     This is a solid UF series with well-developed world-building and a solidly consistent mythology. Mira is a strong and intelligent heroinenot the sassy, smart-mouthed stereotype we so often find in many UF series. My sole nit pick is with Danaus. In the early books, he is a strong and worthy hero, first fighting against Mira and then succumbing to their mutual attractionbut still a champion for humankind. In later books, particularly in the last one, he seems to be shunted off to the background, with Mira constantly worrying about protecting him and keeping him out of the action. The poor guy has sunk so low that he's working as a bouncer at Mira's club in Savannah. What a come down for the proud warrior!          

     One big warning: Please don't start reading this series in the middle or at the end. You simply won't be able to make sense of the huge cast of characters and their changing stances on various issues. Start with Nightwalker and work your way through from the very beginning. Think about it like this: All of the books have now been published, so you can start with book 1 and read them all straight through with no year-long gaps between booksthe best way to read a series!

This blog entry was last updated on 7/31/2011.

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