DARKNESS BEFORE DAWNJ.A. London
Paranormal Young Adult
Available May 29th
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)This electrifying new trilogy blends the best of paranormal and dystopian storytelling in a world where the war is over. And the vampires won.
Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters....
Darkness Before Dawn is a fresh new story with captivating characters, unexpected plot twists, a fascinating setting, and a compelling voice. Written under the name J. A. London by a talented mother-son team, the trilogy is perfect for fans of True Blood and the House of Night and Morganville Vampires series.
MY THOUGHTSDarkness Before Dawn starts out with a dark promise, the implied brutal violence and the last words of a faceless couple suggesting our heroine is unsuspectingly unusual setting a tone that sends whispers traveling down our spines as we prepare ourselves to unravel the mysteries of this vampire world. That dark promise doesn’t entirely come to fruition over the course of the story however, and we’re left at the end fully dressed in the super-sleuth gear we draped ourselves in at the story’s onset with little to show for all our eager anticipation. The secret surrounding Valentine’s interest in Dawn is mentioned occasionally in passing but never discussed in any detail, and thus we can’t help but feel as though we were sent a save the date to ratchet up our enthusiasm for the coming pages, but the formal invitation explaining the who, when, where and how got lost in the mail.
Dawn is a young woman the first several pages predispose us to liking, our interest in what makes her special causing us to be particularly attuned to her, eyes scanning the pages for clues we can collect and store for closer examination later. Our scrutiny eventually decreases in intensity as Dawn doesn’t seem to exhibit any traits that cause our hypersensitive radars to ping, seeming to be a fairly straightforward girl placed in an extraordinarily difficult situation. She’s perfectly likable and admirably stands her ground in the face of an almost one-thousand year-old ruling vampire, but she often doesn’t stand that same ground with regard to her friends, allowing them to push her into doing things she knows are dangerous with only the smallest of protests to show her objection.
In addition, the romance is something a little different than the synopsis suggests, as Dawn already has a boyfriend when we meet her; someone she stays with throughout the book even when Victor comes into play. Thus we have a bit of a love triangle situation with Dawn waffling between the safety of a human boyfriend and the danger of a vampire one, but luckily for us the triangle is not overly dramatic, and while she makes some poor decisions in her emotional struggle, it’s certainly not the teenage soap opera it so easily could have been. Victor, by nature of his grittier and more violent history as a born vampire and son of an Old Family patriarch, is the more intriguing of the two, the closet door to all his skeletons only cracked open the barest inch in this first installment, and we can’t help but look forward to the time when it’s open far enough that we’re able to see the outlines of each individual bone he’s got locked up tight.
For those readers who love paranormal young adult fiction and vampires in particular, Darkness Before Dawn will most likely be an easily devoured read that doesn’t necessarily cause jaws to drop with its fresh take, but that has strong entertainment value nonetheless. For those for whom the vampire genre may be wearing a little thin, this tale will likely be a touch disappointing as nothing new is brought to the table, and the vampire mythology itself is not fully developed enough to set it apart from many of its contemporaries. On a whole though, this first installment does show potential, and it certainly ends in a way that will inspire readers to pick up the next book.