Sunday, August 21, 2011

REVIEW: "Darkness Descending" by Devyn Quinn

DESCRIPTION: For a year, Jesse Burke has been suppressing the beast within, driven by vengeance to destroy the vampiric fallen angels terrorizing New Orleans.  But a war of biblical proportions is too much for one girl to handle, and she must turn to slayer Maddox deValois for training, though doing so threatens her fiercely guarded independence.  At the same time, the sinister demon Queen Amonate is doing everything in her power to lure Jesse into embracing the darkness within.  Before this war is over, everyone will learn that hell hath no fury like a woman possessed. . .

PUBLICATION DATE: August 2, 2011
GENRE: Paranormal Romance-Urban Fantasy-Vampires-Angels
SETTING: Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, Louisiana
SERIES: Vampire Armageddon #1
HERO: Maddox deValois
HEROINE: Jesse Burke

OVERALL RANKING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Darkness Descending is my first book by Devyn Quinn and I was looking forward to starting a new paranormal series from the beginning.  All in all, I was extremely impressed by Ms. Quinn's writing style and worldbuilding and I will definitely be looking for the next in this series.

The Vampire Armageddon series is urban fantasy that takes place in an alternative post-Katrina New Orleans.  The basic premise of the series deals with disgraced angels who fed on human blood after falling and helped spawn a demonic race known as the Telave.  The Telave drink their victims blood and infect them with a demonic plague.  This plague kills the victims within a day or so of the bite and then the demon spirit takes over the corpse.  The Enlightened One (a female God) helps the human race by having her angels mate with humans.  These actions result in an all-male immortal, fighting race called Palindromes which are awakened by the bite of the Telave.

Our main protagonist is Jesse Burke who was attacked by the Telave a year earlier along with her sister.  Her sister died of the infection, but Jesse managed to maintain control of her body.  She is possessed by the demon, but has learned how to survive without it taking over.  She knows that it is only a matter of time until she can no longer control the demon so she is determined to kill as many of the Telave as she can before it takes over.  It is during an ill-fated attempt at killing a new Telave where Jesse meets Maddox deValois, a 200 year old Palindrome.  With the help of Maddox and his fellow Palindrome warriors, Jesse learns about the details of the Telave and the epic war that is approaching. 

Jesse is, at first glance, a typical paranormal heroine.  She has an unusual appearance (pale hair and web-like markings on her skill), some unfortunate baggage that has changed her outlook on life, and a need for assistance in learning how to deal with her new situation.  However, I thought the fact that Jesse is a ticking time bomb with her potential demon possession was an original idea.  This gave her a sense of desperation that is not very common in urban fantasy heroines, in my experience that is.  I connected with Jesse early on and I am anxious to find out more about her journey.  Plus I think she has definite potential to be pretty kick-ass especially with her ability to use a spiked heel as a deadly weapon!     

Maddox deValois, as I mentioned earlier, is a Palindrome who discovered his destiny shortly after being attacked by the Telave in the eighteenth century.  He was a French settler who was exploring North America which is shown in his sense of adventure and survival skills.  Maddox becomes interested in Jesse from their first meeting and, as he gets to know her, is determined to teach her how to deal with her demon and not give in.  He provides a much-needed security for Jesse at a time when she is completely adrift.  But, Maddox is not without his flaws.  He is an extremely complex character with some pretty perverse addictions.  Both Jesse and the reader discover quite a few of his complications, but he still mostly remains a mystery. 

I really liked both main characters especially when they were interacting with each other.  The sexual tension between Maddox and Jesse is evident early on and adds an interesting aspect to their seemingly-doomed relationship.  There was one (long) sex scene and the heat factor definitely increases from that point on.  Definitely not a letdown after all the tension. 

There were not a lot of secondary characters since this first installment concentrated on establishing the mythology and the relationship between Maddox and Jesse.  But, the ones that existed were intriguing and helped moved the story along.  Specifically, I loved the characters of Sam and Reyen.  These are the two Palindromes that are working with Maddox on eliminating the Telave in New Orleans.  Sam is an assuming-looking doctor who is a wizard at weaponry while Reyen is an irritable Native American who makes it clear that he does not care for anything, but killing the Telave and their minions. 

Because this is the beginning of the Vampire Armageddon series, there was a significant amount of worldbuilding.  I thought that Devyn Quinn did a decent job of providing background while not letting the plot suffer.  While there were some cases of information dumping, I never felt overwhelmed with the amount of mythology that was thrown at me.  The trope of fallen angels is pretty popular right now, but I thought the whole Telave and Palindrome idea was creative and realistic for this particular genre.  There were some unanswered questions that I think will help tie later installments in the series together as well.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed Darkness Descending and recommend it to anyone who likes original vampire/fallen angel series with a darker twist than most.  Devyn Quinn does not skimp on the horrific details like the fight scenes and the twisted flashbacks of the characters which I love in urban fantasy.  Be forewarned that there is a slight cliffhanger ending to this book.  But, I did not find it too frustrating.  I thought it was a successful way to finish the first installment and keep readers eager for more. 

FAVORITE QUOTE: “I want you to know that I see you.  I know what you are.  And I’ll help you figure it out every step of the way.”—Maddox (Page 186)


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