Dark Light of Day by Jill Archer
Dark Light of Day (A Noon Onyx Novel)
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(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“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.”
Oh boy, this is one of those novels that had such potential and yet blundered in so many ways. Let me say from the outset that, for the most part, I liked it. I just think that it didn’t capitalize on some really great ideas that got buried under other things that annoyed me.
The thing that I liked best about this story was the worldbuilding. The author has put a lot of thought into not only what the world would be like two thousand years after Lucifer wins Armageddon, but how the remnants of our current culture might carry over into a demonic society. There are little hints of things common in our daily life and collective consciousness that show up here in skewed ways. I appreciated that readers get a real sense of the world having shifted, but also a sense of the connections that remained from the old world.
A good chunk of the worldbuilding is devoted to the law school that teaches Barristers and Maegesters, those who will adjudicate among demons and humans. Since the author also practiced law for many years, I’m sure that the legal proceedings have a solid basis in present-day fact. And it is interesting to see the students in training as they work their way through theoretical situations that test their knowledge of demonic law. I did notice that the author occasionally forgets to translate the Latin phrases that she oftentimes includes, and that’s kind of frustrating.
More frustrating for me were the characters. The ones that I liked (Fitz and Ivy, Noon’s friends at the school) were in the novel far less than the others, while the ones that I didn’t like (Ari and Peter) were all too present. I wasn’t too interested in Noon either. She struck me as going back and forth between too stubborn and too yielding, never finding a happy medium that would make her a well-rounded character. Part of that stems from how she interacts with Ari, her boyfriend, and Peter, her oldest friend. Both men treat her like a possession or a conquest, or like something that they can push around to get what they want, and she lets herself be swayed by their behavior. The author even has Ari go so far as to say something along the lines of “I deserve this, and so you’re going to give it to me”, which set off all kinds of warning flags in my head.
The plot may have been trying to do too much for the first book in a series. Readers get Noon’s law school training, her relationship with Ari, her first case and how it progresses, her quest to rid herself of waning magic, and a mystery involving missing healers. That’s a lot to cover, and it proves hard to balance the time spent on each of these elements. Personally, I would have preferred less of the relationship stuff, but then I didn’t like the romantic interests anyway. Given that this series is set up as focusing on law, I would have liked to have seen that balanced in a little better.
Although it fumbles in its execution, Dark Light of Day has enough promise that I’ll be going on the second book. The worldbuilding is definitely worth the price of admission, with enough twists and turns to satisfy those who love a good mystery.
Also by this author: Fiery Edge of Steel
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on June 24, 2013.