Religion is real in S. J. Day’s Eve of Darkness.
Cain and Abel are pseudonymously known nowadays as Alec Cain and Reed Abel. Lifelong brothers and enemies, they have lots to fight over, including Evangeline Hollis. Agnostic Eve has been Marked as a sinner, and has gone from interior designer to demon-killer-in-training. Alec and Reed want her to accept her fate, but Eve wants the mark removed and her life back. God, however, has other plans.
The first chapter is a stunner, combining the normalcy of a football game with…what lurks in the men’s toilets. The rest of the novel is six weeks of backstory, with flashbacks to ten years ago when Alec deflowered Eve. Though the publisher has labelled this urban fantasy, more likely it’ll appeal to paranormal romance fans because of the relationship stuff going on. Brothers fighting over a woman: Alec and Reed seriously need to get over themselves, and play nice for the sake of humanity. Okay, for Heaven’s sake. (I really didn’t want to make a pun in this review, but look what you made me do.) Mind you, if they haven’t grown up properly during the however many thousand years they’ve been alive, they’re hardly going to start now.
I’m not entirely sure why Eve was Marked. Since sinners are drafted to kill demons, her sin must be…rooting Reed in the stairwell after they just met, and maybe didn’t know each other’s names. I’m not quite clear on that, or maybe because she “tempted” both brothers. I must have forgotten this detail, or it wasn’t explained well enough, which is a problem when your protag is a “chosen one” – readers want to know why.
The series concept seems so obvious in hindsight, it’s actually a surprise that no one thought to do it before. The author’s angels and demons are well-crafted and original, as is the worldbuilding. But then when witches and werewolves come into the picture…it seems a bit kitchen sink. The dogs and Eve communicating via thought seemed a little too easy, but I’d just come off reading Jeanne C. Stein’s first two novels, where vampires communicate that way. Seems too much like telling than showing.
I like Eve’s relationship with neighbour Mrs Basso. It’s nice for Eve to have a friend, and Eve’s mum Miyoko is really intriguing. Born in Japan, she later became a naturalised American, but I’d love to read about American life through Japanese eyes. It gives me hope that S. J. Day will move on to feature other religions, such as Shogun and Shinto (if I remember eighth grade social studies correctly, which I probably don’t). Eve is a breath of fresh air in that she’s biracial. Usually in paranormal fiction characters are half-vampire or half-werewolf, so it’s just splendid to have someone who’s human on both sides with parents from different countries. This may make it easier for readers to connect with Eve, and urban fantasy protags can definitely do with more ethnicity. (It goes without saying that Eve is hot: particularly on the cover of the upcoming second book in this series, Eve of Destruction. Just so you know.)
Overall the concept seems better than the execution thus far, but now that the backstory is out of the way we can get to the good stuff. We haven’t met God yet, or Lucifer. And since there are other firms in the world, hopefully we’ll have some international action. There are a lot of possibilities, so this series could end up longer than just the three (so far) contracted novels. I hope so.