Eve of Darkness by Sylvia Day

Let’s start this off honestly.  I only picked up this book because I’m trying to be less of a snob.  Both about this type of fantasy (urban pop romance, I would call it) and about authors who are as prolific as Ms. Day (the first three books of this series were published in the same year).  Eve of Darkness did nothing to dispel my disdain for this type of novel because Eve of Darkness is terrible on many, many levels.  Basically all of them that I can think of.  Plot, characters, world building, and structure.  All terrible.  I can’t think of a single redeeming feature.  Well, I listened to the audiobook and the reader was very good.  But nothing Sylvia Day contributed was good or skillful in anyway.  At all.

Okay, let me try to explain the plot of this book.  It will be hard because to my mind it made no fucking sense and by the time anybody got around to explaining things to the main character (2/3rds of the way through the book), I didn’t give any damns any more.

At 18 Evangeline Hollis lost her virginity to a beautiful man named Alec who promptly disappeared.  Ten years later, Eve is a successful interior designer but still single and longing for that one amazing night.  She is at a job interview when she spies another beautiful man who reminds her of Alec.  Their eyes meet and sparks fly.  When her business is completed, the new beautiful man ushers Eve into a stairwell where they proceed to have sex.  In the throes of passion, the man sprouts wings and brands Eve with his bare hand, intoning “Bear the Mark of Cain.”  Eve passes out and when she wakes up (clothing fully restored) she decides to go home rather than with the paramedic.

Eve arrives home and is starting to feel a little funky when lo and behold, who should show up but Alec.  Turns out, Alec is really Cain of Cain and Able fame and has been cursed to walk the earth slaying demons until he earns redemption.  But God likes to test Alec from time to time and sets temptations in his path.  Eve was one of those temptations.  Because Alec gave in, Eve is Marked as sinner too and given immortality in the pursuit of redemption via demon slaying.  Her body in now starting to transform into a Mark, which will give her the strength and heightened senses need to fight demons.  The transformation will take about a week and somehow require sex to make it safely through.

Eve makes the transformation and thus begins the demon hunting.  There’s some other nonsense with archangels with agendas of their own, other Marked trainees being assholes to Eve for no reason I could see, and the death of the best character in the book but it’s really all periphery.  There’s also my favorite, a love triangle.  Because the beautiful man with wings who marked Eve?  Turns about to be Able of Cain and Able fame, now going by Reed.  Oh the male posturing, how delightful./sarcasam

Now, let’s get down to my major problems with this book.  First, the sex scenes.  There are three of them and they all have so many consent issues that I found them hard to stomach.  In the first one, between Reed and Eve, she asks him to slow down and he doesn’t.  She asks him about condoms and he shushes her and thrusts his bare penis into her vagina with nary a word.  The scene indicates that Eve enjoys herself anyway and she never bring up either fact in later interactions with Reed but as someone who firmly believes in the “yes means yes” method of consent I HAD BIG FUCKING PROBLEMS WITH THIS SCENE, WHAT THE FUCK, NO.  The second sex scene isn’t any better.  On the last day of her transformation Eve wakes up ridiculously horny after being more or less comatose for the last seven days (get it, seven days because RELIGION).  She is unable to open her eyes or think about anything other than sex.  So Alec, who has been taking care of her this whole time, comes and gives Eve what she “needs.”  Because clearly somebody who can’t open their eyes and is in the grips of a magical transformation is able to give the informed consent needed before engaging in sex.  Except for how it’s the exact opposite of that.  Again, the text would have you believe that Eve enjoyed herself and has 100% no problem with this but I did because this is not a responsible or sexy way to write a sex scene, jesus christ stop it.  The third sex scene is between Reed and an archangel he goes to for help and includes manipulation, blackmail for sex, and emotional abuse.  Hot.

Now on to crappy world building!  I have no idea why Eve was Marked.  Supposedly it is because she sinned in fornicating with Alec but fornicating in general doesn’t appear to be a Mark-able sin (otherwise there would be a LOT more Marks) and Reed tells Eve that she was the temptation, not the tempter.  He specifically calls her the apple (which, fantastic way to other/dehumanize your female lead, Ms. Day).  The organization of the Marks and their higher-up is a little more clear, but not much.  The general structure is visible but the details are super fuzzy.  There’s other stuff too but you’re not going to read this book, so just trust me when I say this is a very poorly built world.

Crappy characters, you’re up next!  Eve’s personality can be summed up to “Stubborn to the point of stupidity and willing to do anything for Alec.”  Alec…has long hair and wears tee-shirts?  Reed wears suits.  That’s all I’ve got.  Except, Alec and Reed, who are millennia old (adding another fun level to Alec’s bedding of 18-year-old Eve!) and have been doing their jobs for nearly as long as they’ve been alive but still somehow cannot work together like civilized beings.  You would think after the first couple of centuries rising to the bait would get old, but nope, let’s fight over a girl!  Yay!

Lastly, there’s the structure of the book.  It starts after the end and then backtracks.  So you know how the book ends from the very start.  There are two problems with this.  One, it drains the tension from the narrative to know how it’s going to end and two, I WAS SO FUCKING CONFUSED.  Normally I enjoy books that throw you in off the narrative deep end and expect you to swim, slowly giving clues and hints to the structure of the world.  This novel did not achieve that.  I spent the first fifteen minutes convinced that Wikipedia had the novel order wrong and I was reading the second book in the series.

In conclusion, do not read Eve of Darkness by Sylvia Day because it is a terrible book on all levels.

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