Saturday, January 17, 2009

Review – “Eve of Darkness” by S.J. Day

Cursed by God, hunted by demons, desired by Cain and Abel... All in a day's work.

For Evangeline Hollis, a long-ago fling with a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks just became a disaster of biblical proportions. One night with a leather-clad man of mystery has led to a divine punishment: the Mark of Cain.

Thrust into a world where sinners are drafted to kill demons, Eve knows her learning curve must be short. A longtime agnostic, she begrudgingly maneuvers through a celestial bureaucracy where she is a valuable but ill-treated pawn. She's also become the latest point of contention in the oldest case of sibling rivalry in history...

But she'll worry about all that later. Right now she's more concerned with learning to kill while staying alive. And saving the soul she'd never quite believed she had.
Eve of Darkness is the first book in a new urban fantasy series called The Marked. The series will be launching this spring with a big splash as part of a larger initial three book campaign. The next two books come out one month apart so readers will not have long to wait to get their next fix of the series. The last time I recall seeing a genre author book launch of this nature was with Naomi Novik’s Temeraire fantasy series.

Eve of Darkness uses a unique approach to introduce Eve our reluctant heroine. The opening chapter is set in the contemporary present (California) and we learn only a little about Eve and her mentor and lover Alec Cain. They are among the Marked, hunters of Infernals (demons, rogue fae, mages, werewolves, dragons and other supernaturals) that have been targeted by the forces of light. The Marked have heightened physical strength and senses and are able to recognize the Infernals coexisting among the human population.

Before you can blink, Eve finds herself on the losing end of a life and death fight with a demon dragon resulting in this tender scene with Alec -
“Angel . . ." His hands shook as he tentatively touched her ruined skin. "Don't you dare die on me. You hear me? I just got you back, damn you—"
"Alec." She tried to open her eyes, but the effort required more energy than she possessed. Shivers wracked her abused frame and rattled her teeth. The faint chemical tang of tap water filled her nostrils, as did the scent of ashes, demon, and blood. Her blood.
Normally this would be a striking emotional moment, but we haven’t been given a chance to get to know Eve or truly understand the depth of their relationship. What’s going on here I thought. Soooo… the story leaps back to six weeks earlier before Eve became Marked and we follow Eve’s journey of love and loss as it builds towards the present. By the time we arrive where we started, the emotional hook has been thoroughly seated. Well done!

The journey of love is complicated because Alec is the temptation that resulted in Eve being chosen to be Marked – by Alec Cain’s brother Abel (an angel) who also covets Eve. Eve finds herself responding to Abel as well, at least physically. There is no shortage of hot erotic moments in Eve of Darkness. Rivalry, personal agendas, and internal Marked politics colour the brothers relationship. This messy but absorbing love triangle provides plenty of sexual and dramatic tension.

The journey of loss is equally complex. Eve loses her innocence about the world as she understood it, and as an agnostic is forced to accept the true ‘good versus evil’ reality. Her career success and plans for the future are washed away. The physical changes resulting from being Marked also alter her mental state. She finds herself relishing the role of predator and the violence inherent in the position. Intellectually she recognizes this and other changes. It becomes her mission to find a way to be released from being Marked. Thus she is cast as a reluctant heroine, nuanced and intriguing.

Although we view the storyline through the perspective of the good guys, it doesn’t take long to recognize that there are a lot of murky motivations and suspect methods being applied. All in all the good guys often seem pretty grey. Even though there is plenty of action, I found Eve of Darkness to have thoughtful and subtle layers that are not immediately evident until further reflection. A cliffhanger ending compels you to search out the next book. I believe characterization will be the strength of this series, so we will have to wait and see what’s in store for Eve in Eve of Destruction (June 2009) and Eve of Chaos (July 2009).


Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.

Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC (Tor)
Published: April 28, 2009
ISBN #: 9780765360410
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368

Marked Series:

  1. Eve of Darkness (April 28, 2009)
  2. Eve of Destruction (June 2, 2009)
  3. Eve of Chaos (June 30, 2009)

View the book trailer:


  1. I've been looking forward to these books since I first heard the concept -- and I love, love these covers so much.

  2. I have always enjoyed SJ Day when she writes as Sylvia Day. She writes excellent historicals.
    Can I saw I am jealous you have this!
    Great review :D

  3. Ooh! Sounds really good, I'll keep an eye open for it!

  4. Hi Meljean, everything about the Marked series launch is polished. S.J. has great artwork, an excellent web site and an intriguing story.

    Thanks Katiebabs, I was indeed lucky to get an ARC for this. Haven't read anything by her under the Sylvia moniker, historicals aren't my thing. Well except for Gabaldon.

    Hey Ladytink I'll bet it's everywhere once it launches :)

  5. I was very interested in this book when you posted the awesome cover earlier and I read a blurb about it. Excellent review! I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on it.

  6. I thought you would like to know that Tor Books posted a link to your site on Twitter because of this book review!

    Great review, by the way.

  7. Thanks Mishel, this is going to be a popular title this spring, no doubt about it.

    Hey Patricia thanks for the heads up. Didn't know about the link. Glad you liked the review.

  8. I was just at the bookstore and saw this book. Grr I'll order my copy online. lol

  9. LOL mizmode. Thank god for the internetz.

  10. Ok I get it now, I need to read SJ Day. I keep passing by Eve of Darkness in the bookstore, next time I'm buying it. Great review!

  11. Smokin Hot Books hope you like it!


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