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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book Review: Dark Light of Day by Jill Archer

Title: Dark Light of Day
Author: Jill Archer
Publisher: Ace
Publishing Date: September 25, 2012
Length: 384 pages
Editions: print, ebook formats
Source: purchased

Synopsis: Armageddon is over. The demons won. And yet somehow…the world has continued. Survivors worship patron demons under a draconian system of tributes and rules. These laws keep the demons from warring among themselves, and the world from slipping back into chaos.

Noon Onyx grew up on the banks of the river Lethe, the daughter of a prominent politician, and a descendant of Lucifer’s warlords. Noon has a secret: She was born with waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery power that is used to control demons and maintain the delicate peace among them. But a woman with waning magic is unheard of, and some would consider her an abomination.

Noon is summoned to attend St. Lucifer’s, a school of demon law. She must decide whether to declare her powers there…or to attempt to continue hiding them, knowing the price for doing so may be death. And once she meets the forbiddingly powerful Ari Carmine—who suspects Noon is harboring magic as deadly as his own—Noon realizes there may be more at stake than just her life.

Rating: 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book, cannot believe it didn’t hit my radar until now. I am a host on the upcoming blog tour for book 2, “Fiery Edge of Steel” and the premise of that book seemed so good that I figured I had to read this one first!

From the synopsis, we know that this is a different society. Armageddon has happened; the demons have won. That right there should tell you that this is book is going to take the normally accepted good/bad and turn it on its side. As Ari Carmine says, “it is what it is.” And now…it’s about living in a new kind of world, a new kind of society, even though this world is a couple thousand years old!

Nouiomos Onyx is a twin. She and her brother, Nocturo, were born with waxing and waning magic…except, she should’ve received the waxing magic and Night should have received the waning. That’s how it works: males get waning, females get waxing. But for some reason, it was reversed for them. Dealing with parents that are stand-offish, seemingly ashamed of their kids, keeping them isolated etc from the Host way of life, Night and Noon have been struggling with their identities their whole lives. Night runs away a few weeks before Bryde’s day, where they must declare their magic according to demon law. Noon gets matriculated at St. Lucifer’s by her mother, without her consent.

I found St. Luck’s and the classes they were taking pretty freaking cool. I liked the descriptions of the different legal courses they were going to take, the hyrke (human) versus host and angel schools of thought, etc. Of COURSE it would focus on law and not just because the author is an attorney. But come on…we’ve all heard phrases such as “a devil’s bargain” or making a deal with a demon/devil, etc. It makes sense, and has been referenced in a lot of other paranormal books, that demon law would be a forefront in this world ruled by Lucifer’s army.

Incredibly well thought out and plotted world, the depth of which was quite amazing as I read and thought about it. I liked seeing the differences in they hyrke customs versus an angelic family like the Asters versus the host family of Onyx. As you would expect, to draw conclusions based on labels alone would not be wise. I found Peter anything BUT angelic and Ari and Noon anything but demonic. The demons were as expected: selfish, cruel, tricky.

I loved the development from instant lust to wary trust to full love between Noon and Ari. The celebrations were really well described and the magical wines created by angels were again, not as angelic as you would think if you went by the label angelic, and utterly fascinating. It made me wish there were such a thing as Summer Queen wine!

I did find Noon annoying at times. I think she took too long to embrace who she was, but then again, for 20+ years, she’s been rejected, not taught to embrace and use her powers, and basically raised as a human/hyrke. I also was torn between whether or not I found her wariness of Ari, especially after Rochester’s warning, dumb and annoying or smart and self-preserving. In the end, it was a little of both, but completely necessary as she develops and learns and grows.

I am so glad that she kept her relationship with Ivy and Fitz and was forthright with them once she declared. I loved the fact that they were totally expecting her to reject them and move on to be with the other Maegester-in-Trainings and that she absolutely did not do that, forsaking her friends for people with “power.” Had she done that and ignored them, I would’ve been disgusted with her character. Not that the MITs were people she COULD befriend, but loyalty is a trait to be admired.

Peter Aster, her childhood best friend, is something not to be admired. His fervor and intensity on finding the spell to change Noon is obsessive and frightening. What kind of angel then coerces someone he claims to love in order to save the life of someone dying at their feet? To say that he’s not going to say the damn spell to try and save Ari unless Noon agrees to leave Ari and live with him was dead on with the character and wholly disgusting. In the beginning, I thought Peter’s obsession with finding the Reversal Spell sweet and devoted. And with each encounter with him, it just left a foul taste in my mouth to the point that I started finding him repulsive. I was glad for his character flaws to highlight the difference between the Angel Peter who wants to change Noon to fit his version of love and the Maegester Ari who loves her for who she is, as conflicted as that may be.

There are a lot of religious comments/reviews on this book about blood sacrifice in this book for the demon worshipping, that “Good is no longer present” etc. I’m sure that this type of controversy will continue to exist as when you get to the nitty gritty of people and their faith, you’re wasting a lot of steam talking. You just can’t budge people from their faith and belief, and really, I don’t think you should want to do so. I fully support people’s right to believe what they want. However, I feel the need to say something in my own review of this book in regards to this conversation.

It is fine if you did not like the book or were unable to enjoy it, however to slam a fiction book because it doesn't mesh with your religious ideas is absurd. One of the reasons given in a recent conversation hindered on blood sacrifice as the hyrke worship demons of crops, of rivers, of fertility, etc. This is a bit hard for me to understand WHY. Not only because this book is fictitious, but because the sacrifice of blood IS an acceptable reality by christian standards, both animal and, later human in the form of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus sacrificed himself to atone for our sins, no? (Leviticus 17:11 is the Old Testament’s central statement about the significance of blood in the sacrificial system. God, speaking to Moses, declares: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”) In fact, you celebrate this sacrifice when you symbolically ingest it and his body (sidenote: cannibalistic much?) when you take the sacrament. So your argument there is invalid. Note, I said symbolically.

I'm okay with reviews where the reader didn’t find the protagonist (note I did not say hero/heroine) to your liking. I am okay with someone saying that he/she did not find a book exciting. To each their own when it comes to what you like to read about and how you find each story. However, since this book isn't selling itself as something that is anti-religious or even proselytizing demon worshipping and is instead just a fantasy fiction novel, perhaps we as readers and reviewers should aim to keep our opinions on faith out of our reviews and instead focus on things such as character development, action, world-building, etc.

I am eagerly waiting to pounce on book 2 which is mocking me from the reading pile to the left of my computer. I hope the author kept the hyrke friendships Noon had in this book, that she is more steady in her relationship with Ari, and that Peter does NOT make a reappearance.

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