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Official Dakota Banks Website
Order "Dark Time" HERE
Book & author information: This is the 1st book in the Mortal Path series written by Dakota Banks which may or may not be a pseudonym as the author writes in her biography. She has previously published 6 high-tech thrillers before venturing into urban fantasy territory. The first foray is published by Avon books and stands at 320 pages divided into forty five chapters.
Overview/Analysis: The book is narrated from a third person POV and features the primary protagonist in all but a couple of chapters in the book. The book begins in the year 1692 with the background of the infamous Salem witch trials.
Sussanah Layhem who is an expectant mother in the ultimate stages of pregnancy, gets accused of witchcraft by a jealous village woman. The trial goes horribly wrong for Sussanah and she gets sentenced to the stake instead of the usual hanging.
During this precipitous time and due to her prenatal miscarriage, she gets introduced to a demon known as Rabishu, who then gives her an option of dying under the false accusation or returning to punish her accusers by becoming the "real thing". Sussanah, of course chooses life and revenge, and then transforms into an immortal assassin for Rabishu, who is then revealed to be a chaos beast from the ancient Sumerian mythology.
The story continues until Sussanah finally snaps off her yoke and decides to quit. This is where things get interesting as Rabishu offers her a deal which is even more enticing than the previous one. She is given the opportunity to fight for her soul by trying to balance the lives she wrongfully took, with the catch that for every life she saves, some of hers will be taken away in the process.
Sussanah agrees to this bargain and then reincarnates herself in the present time as Maliha Crayne[ Pronounced Ma-lie-hah], a writer of pulp romance crime novels and a female version of Bruce Wayne without the Wayne Industries background but with the array of cool cars and hi-tech gadgets, she embodies the same carefree outlook towards life as the one falsely perpetrated by Batman's alter-ego.
The story then hurtles forward with a murder case investigation, which then turns into a run to stop a corporate head from unleashing a technological weapon to the highest bidder. And in the midst of such a complicated background are the mandatory action scenes and he-loves/he-loves-me-not romantic angle which keeps the reader engrossed. With such interesting jumps in the plot, I was most saddened to realize that my ARC copy has the last 14 pages missing. I eagerly await the release of the book to find out what actually happens in the end. My best guess would be an explosive twist, and an excellent hook for the second book as well.
What drew me to the book was the premise which while similar to many within the UF genre still seemed a bit different. The author has written a good story and with her clear prose, it does make a fast & interesting read. It is also refreshing to read about a different mythology than the usual biblical, British or Celtic variations which form the underlying foundation in many UF books. The book is divided into small chapters akin to a James Patterson book, although it contains about half the chapters found in a typical Patterson book. The author also utilized a not-so-famous historical character which was quite a surprise to read about. This is another positive about the book besides the Sumerian mythos background.
The negatives according to me were the predictable characters and cliches: the team of supportive but quirky characters, the handsome but difficult boyfriend, the wise-cracking, cynical girlfriend, the megalomaniac villain, etc. This is what makes most of the books in this genre predictable & it is the same with "Dark Time" as well. Another complaint was that the Sumerian mythology was never properly explained beyond a basic premise. Many readers like me would like to know more behind the Gods' structure.
However, since this is the 1st book in the series, I believe this avenue might be further explored in the future books. This book does not pretend to be unique literature-wise; it is a good old fashioned UF with a sexy, smart heroine who has every reason to act the way she does but unlike most other contemporary characters has to pay an unprecedented price.
In the end what any reader will find is that this is a well-written book set within the parameters of its genre. Readers with no preset assumptions will definitely enjoy this book. The blurbs by James Rollins and David Morrell are refreshingly correct. To sum it up, it was definitely a fun read for me and I look forward to the next book in the series to find out more of the struggles of Maliha Crayne, the Sumerian Gods & their underlings.