Eve of Darkness (Marked, Book 1)
by S.J. Day
Cover Artist: Gordon Crabb
Review by Drew Bittner
Tor Books Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765360410
Date: May 2009 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Evangeline Hollis is not having a good day. On her way to a job interview, she's waylaid by an impossibly hot guy and, because of that, receives a Mark. Now she is part of a worldwide network of sinners hoping to earn redemption by executing rogue demons and frustrating the plans of Hell.
Not to mention, she's part of a romantic triangle between the biblical brothers Cain and Abel.
For an interior designer who was destined for a quiet life, this is not how things were supposed to turn out.
In Eve of Darkness, author S.J. Day introduces Eve and her world with a bang: she and her mentor Alex Cain (yeah, he's the real Cain of biblical infamy) battle a nigh-unstoppable demon. During a pause in the action, Day rewinds the story six weeks to where it all began.
It turns out that Alex Cain first met Eve when the young woman was only 16; he was her first love, and his disappearance broke her heart. Now he's back... and so is his brother, Reed Abel, who is an up-and-comer in the managerial ranks of Heaven. Abel bestows a mystical Mark upon Eve (for reasons best left unexplained), which makes her an unwilling warrior for the side of the angels. Abel is to be her manager, Cain will be her partner and mentor.
Things start off badly when Eve is attacked by a stone gargoyle and antagonizes a water demon in one afternoon. But these seemingly innocent events soon take on a darker significance as Cain investigates. As he tells Eve more than once, "There are no coincidences". Their investigation takes them to Las Vegas and a meeting with an archangel, then to a masonry plant in California with plenty of secrets.
Meanwhile, Eve must deal with her laid-back parents and a well-wishing neighbor, all of whom are in harm's way when the bad guys realize Eve is now a Mark.
Eve is getting a baptism of fire--literally--and the forces of Hell are going to get more than they expected.
In Eve, Day creates a heroine who is unapologetically sensuous; she's also far less snarky than many female protagonists in the urban fantasy genre. Eve sticks up for herself but lacks the reflexive hostility to authority that is endemic in the genre. Day uses little touches--familiarity with design motifs, appreciation for decor--that establish Eve as more than just a blank slate waiting to gain powers and kick ass; she also has a fairly well-developed circle of supporting characters, so that her life is not exclusively about being a monster hunter. This is a really good thing.
There are plenty of plot threads to carry over into the next two novels (which are listed in the back of this volume). In particular, the groundwork is laid for a very large payoff down the road.
Those who like urban fantasy with an unusual twist will enjoy Eve of Darkness and its modern, stylish take on the endless war between Heaven and Hell.