When vampires first revealed their existence, everything about them was sensationalized. Humanity obsessed over vampire fashion, and the “who’s who” of the vampire world, making them instant celebrities overnight. No one seemed to care about how many vampires there were, or even trivial details as to how many humans have been killed in their quest for blood. Humans eventually got a clue, instigating a deadly war began between humans and vampires that lasted for thirty years. It was only after billions of human lives were lost that the two sides decided to negotiate peace. Humans would willingly donate so much blood a month, and the cities would deliver it to whatever Old Family (vampires that were born) patriarch was in charge of their city and the head of the Family would offer protection against rogue vampires (vampires that were made).
It’s now nine years after the war ravaged the earth, and Dawn has lost her entire family to the vicious vampire nature and holds little love for them. Up until a few months ago, her parents had served as Denver’s delegates to Lord Valentine, one of the most powerful vampires in existence. After they were killed on their way home from a weekly trip to his manor, Lord Valentine has specifically requested a new delegate, Dawn, and no one else will do. She has spent the last few months training for her position, including the proper way to wear a corset, and is now deemed ready to go solo on any future trips out of the city.
Tired of stressing about protocol and the art of negotiation, Dawn and her best friend Tegan sneak out to a party by the Wall the night before her first official day as delegate. After an attempted drugging, Dawn and Tegan find themselves on the trolley at night, alone, surrounded by vampires. Dawn does her best to fend them off, but despite taking one of them out, she isn’t strong enough to take them all and she and Tegan are about to become a midnight snack. They are rescued by a mysterious boy, Victor, who kills the rest of the vampires and then safely escorts them home. Assuming he was human, a particularly talented Night Watchmen, Dawn is shocked speechless when she arrives at Lord Valentine’s the following night and is greeted by none other than her savior of the night before. Victor Valentine, Lord Valentine’s son and heir. Everything Dawn has ever believed about vampires is thrown off kilter as Victor continually shows her that not all vampires are monsters. Denver is under attack, and it seems that rogue vampires aren’t the only monsters of the night. As Dawn and Victor grow closer, she realizes that the monster she’s always feared might be the only one who can save her life.
I received this book unexpectedly from the publisher over the weekend, and I was immediately intrigued by the vampire dystopian mix. It seems that vampire books have gone out of fashion recently, and I was excited to read J.A. London’s new twist on the subject. I could easily see how this New World that this mother-son writing team has created could become a reality, if vampires actually existed. There wasn’t anything complex about the setting, and I enjoyed reading a Dystopian novel that was set in a place that was different, but still familiar. Kids still went to school, parents still worked, people still ate at restaurants, but cell phones were a luxury and most people used the Trolley system or walked to where they needed to go. It seemed like the setting and world were there to support the characters and the development of the story, but weren’t the main attraction. Different enough to make it interesting, but familiar enough that I could concentrate on other things.
Told in first person, Dawn was really the heart of the story. I loved her progression from an angsty teen resenting her lot in life, to a delegate concerned with the state of her city, and finally to a girl in love with the boy who taught her that the world isn’t all black and white. Dawn is strong and independent, but she knows her limits and doesn’t rush into battle when she knows all she’ll do is make things worse. I LOVED that about her. Victor is sweet and charming, and is ready to take on the world if it means Dawn will be safe. I loved the glimpses of the internal battle between good guy and monster that he fought every single day. He loved Dawn, but he knew that whatever relationship that developed between them could end badly. He just couldn’t stay away, and that is the sweetest kind of love.
I really enjoyed Darkness Before Dawn. I loved the paranormal/dystopian mix, and I hope to see more stories like it in the future. I loved how the book revolved around the characters, primarily Dawn and Victor, and their growth throughout the story. I love the voice of this author team, their unique mix of serious and humor and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series. Highly recommend!