Darkness Before Dawn

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope that all of you have had a wonderful day (regardless of whether or not you celebrate this holiday). I spent the majority of the day with my wonderful family, ate WAY too much, took a nap, watched some Doctor Who, and, finally, I finished a book. Not a bad way to spend the day!

The book I’ve been reading the past couple of days is Darkness Before Dawn by the mother-son writing team known as J.A. London. I freely admit that I picked up this book because of the cover–something that has been known to get me into trouble from time to time. The cover reminded me a great deal of the covers for Lauren Kate’s Fallen series (fabulous books, by the way). Well, this book wasn’t quite like Fallen, and I didn’t think the cover really fit the story, but Darkness Before Dawn was a decent book, and the action did keep me turning the page. (I can’t say that about other books I’ve read.) It is a vampire book, and it has some Twilight-esque elements, but it’s much darker than some of the vampire romance fluff that’s out there right now. The tone of Darkness Before Dawn reminded me a little of Bethany Griffin’s Masque of the Red Death (which I wasn’t a huge fan of). Things are very bleak, there’s very little hope, but one girl is doing what she can–even consorting with the enemy–to bring peace to her world.

Following the horrifying death of her parents, seventeen-year-old Dawn Montgomery has been appointed as the new Agency delegate to negotiate with Lord Valentine, the feared vampire who controls what has become of the city of Denver. It is Dawn’s responsibility to keep the peace between vampires and humans. Basically, this means that she kowtows to the whims and wishes of Valentine, including doing everything possible to increase the city’s blood donations to the vampires they at once fear and loathe. Dawn wishes there were a way to end humanity’s subservience to the vampires, but she doesn’t see a way to get out from under Valentine’s thumb long enough to broker any semblance of a peace deal. All that may be about to change, though…

One night, after a party on the outskirts of town, a mysterious boy comes to Dawn’s rescue. His name is Victor, and he saves Dawn and her best friend, Tegan, from being killed by a pack of vampires. Dawn doesn’t know much about Victor, but she’s grateful to him and oddly drawn to him, even though she has a boyfriend. Soon, though, Dawn discovers the truth of Victor’s real identity. He’s a vampire, and his full name is Victor Valentine. That’s right. He’s the horrible Lord Valentine’s son. But Victor is not the monster that his father is. He, like Dawn, wants a world where vampires and humans can live in peace, and he’s doing all that he can to make that a reality. Victor implores Dawn to see him as more than an evil bloodsucker, and, eventually, she realizes that there is more to him than she ever thought possible. There’s more to her feelings for him, too. As you can imagine, things are about to get really complicated…

As Dawn and Victor fight their feelings for each other while doing their parts to fight for peace, new and unexpected monsters are invading the city. It seems a new breed of vampire is on the loose, one that no one really knows how to fight. One that seems to have Dawn in his sights. What does he want with her? Is she a target because she’s the delegate, or is there some other reason that Dawn is always being watched? And what will happen when it’s revealed that someone close to Dawn may not be who he claims to be? Could there be an even more sinister foe waiting to destroy Dawn’s entire world? Sometimes there are reasons to be afraid of the dark. Find out how Dawn deals with those fears when you read Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London.

When I first started reading this book, I was prepared not to like it. Honestly, I though, “Not another cheesy vampire book!” In a sense, I was right. It was fairly predictable, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. Yes, it was dark and a bit depressing at times. Yes, the story didn’t offer too many answers to questions. (It’s the first book in a series, so that shouldn’t shock me too much.) Everything about this book was easy to anticipate, but that didn’t stop me from turning the next page. I needed to see if my predictions were correct. (They nearly always were.) This is not the loftiest of literature, but it does keep the reader interested, and that’s really all anyone can ask.

Fans of YA vampire fiction will enjoy this book. Be cautious when recommending this book to middle grade readers. There’s some cursing, alcohol use, and a couple of steamy scenes (especially if you have a decent imagination). I’m not naive enough to think that some middle schoolers aren’t familiar with this things, but know your readers and which ones can handle mature situations in the books they read.

For more information about Darkness Before Dawn, visit http://www.jalondon.com/. The second book in the series, Blood-Kissed Sky, is already out. (I’ve already read the first chapter. It was at the end of the first book, which ended on such a cliffhanger that I couldn’t pass up the chance to see what happened next.) The third book, After Daybreak, will be out on June 25th.

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