Eve of Darkness

Posted: October 29, 2009 in 1
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S.J. Day

Review © 2009 G.N. Jacobs

S.J. Day infuses the first book of her Marked series, Eve of Darkness, with all the high-octane sex and action any literary thrill junky would need. Mostly, this is because the heroine, Evangeline Hollis, wipes out a dragon in the ladies room at Qualcomm Stadium during a Chargers-Seahawks football game. She wore flip-flops at the time making it seem all the more impressive.

God, or at least one of his minions, has picked Eve to bear the Mark of Cain and spend however long it takes killing demons until her sins have been worked off. Her sin, you ask? She is that one special girl that tempted the original Mark, Cain, into impossible desires of home and family, when he is so good at splashing demons. So, allowing ten years for divine justice to play out, Cain’s brother, Abel, seduces her and gives her the Mark.

It is actually excellent writing from the James Bond School of screenwriting that Eve took out the dragon in the bathroom. It is such an over the top teaser set six weeks ahead of the rest of the book that it covers up an awful necessity of first books in most Fantasy/Sci-Fi series: Exposition. Explaining how Marked sinners get that way and with what powers they have been blessed to use killing demons can eat up much of the 350 pages or so allotted by editors for a first release in mass-market paperback.

Still, for all of my indulgences concerning exposition, I still felt there was a tad much all at once. Halfway through the book, while I enjoyed Eve Hollis as a spunky, I’m-not-a-victim, reluctant heroine determined to get time off for good behavior, I was complaining that whatever the bad guys were up to wasn’t happening soon enough due to the exposition.

Let’s see, Eve shags Abel and gets the Mark and then we are treated to dueling sex scenes starring Eve and Cain: once in the present where Cain helps her through the change to Marked and one ten years before showing how Cain took Eve’s virginity. If you add in the business of explaining what Marks can do, there went the first half of the book. If it hadn’t been for the interesting twin mother figures of Eve’s Japanese mother, Miyoko Hollis, and her nice neighbor, Mrs. Basso, there would have been very little plot advancement in the first half, the Kiss of Death to a book.

However, the story picks up in the second half so the reader won’t mind the slow start. Cain and Abel both fall for Eve with the attendant Oedipal references that she bears their mother’s name and start competing to get her naked. Demons attack before Eve has gone through training almost as if she were a Bond girl frozen in the headlights. Some attacks are irritating like being peed on by a Tengu, a demon species behind the gargoyle myths, or facing her very own water demon.

Eve also begins to suspect that some of the people on the good guy side are playing their own agendas and using Eve and her exasperating triangle with Cain and Abel as a key pawn in the celestial chess game. S.J. Day leaves it up to the second and third books published almost concurrently with Eve of Darkness for us to learn whether the Archangels and God will resolve their differences.

One thing I’m curious about is to see if we hear more from Cain and Abel about what really happened in the events recorded in the Bible at least in S.J. Day’s universe. Both characters state that the recorded Scripture is some truth, some fictional embellishment and a lot of parable. It would be interesting to hear why Cain killed Abel the first time instead of having Cain clam up like a man still hurting. Or perhaps Ms. Day is sensitive to the Bible thumpers out there that speak loudly about any perceived threat to the Revealed World of God and doesn’t need to kick over that anthill.

The Marked series is loaded with all kinds of archetypal references that make for great literature and valuable psychology sessions. God, Angels, Demons and the Mark of Cain all make for a grand stage on which a female variation of Cincinnatus stands in the breach daring all comers to try their luck. Between these concepts and the flat out unashamed erotic sex and comic book action of course Eve of Darkness will read like the great book it very nearly is. A kick-ass romp of sex and violence will do nicely.



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