Wait for Dusk: Ignore the cover and snap this one up

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book review Jocelynn Drake Wait for DuskWait for Dusk by Jocelynn Drake

Okay, I can’t help it. I have to start with this awful cover art. Not only do Mira and Danaus have no legs, the cover isn’t an accurate representation of the contents. Yes, there’s sex in Wait for Dusk. No, it’s not as predominant as this cover would imply. A more fitting cover would have shown Mira with a fireball in one hand and a big bloody knife in the other.

Having read the first four DARK DAYS novels, I was expecting Wait for Dusk to follow the pattern of books two, three, and four: namely, a slow-build start with lots of politics and posturing, leading up to an action-filled finish. To my surprise (and pleasure), there’s not a slow moment in Wait for Dusk. There are a few scenes of politicking, but they’re short and have immediate, tangible consequences.

Wait for Dusk begins just a few minutes after the cliffhanger ending of Pray for Dawn. We’re back in Mira’s head, and she has just been whisked away from the scene of the battle by a powerful entity. We learn that this entity is actually Mira’s real father, a really nasty fellow, who gives her a task she doesn’t think she can refuse, then returns her to her home. Later, Mira is summoned to Venice to officially take her seat on the vampire coven. Her enemy Macaire assigns her to clean up a mess in Budapest, so she travels there with Danaus and with vampires Stefan and Valerio, who each have agendas of their own. Mira is pretty sure that this is a trap, but she’s determined to make it an opportunity instead.

Mira opens up a big can of Machiavelli as she cuts a swath through Budapest’s supernatural community, showing us just how she’s managed to survive 600 years as a nightwalker. Her actions don’t necessarily make her more sympathetic per se, but they’re realistic and they’re terrific character development. We keep rooting for her because the alternatives are worse. Mira may be a bitch, but she’s our bitch.

At the same time, Mira’s actions help drive a wedge between her and Danaus, throwing a heartbreaking conflict into Mira’s life just when she least has time for it. As you might have guessed from the clinch cover, Wait for Dusk is the make-or-break book for the Mira/Danaus relationship. Jocelynn Drake has built up this relationship from the very first scene of Nightwalker, with some books advancing it and others retreating from it, and here we learn whether they “will” or “won’t.”

The book is filled with action and violence, and every fight is consequential to the main plot in addition to being exciting. Jocelynn Drake builds to a big ending and then delivers it. No cliffhangers here. There’s plenty of trouble ahead for Mira and friends, but Wait for Dusk ends on a satisfying note. This is the first DARK DAYS book that’s really recaptured the explosive energy that defined Nightwalker, and to my mind it’s even better than that first installment. Ignore the cover and snap this one up.

Only one small caveat: There have always been a few copy editing mistakes in these books, but this is the first time it’s really been distracting. There’s a sentence that talks about the death of Character A, who is actually still alive at that point in the book. I thought maybe I’d missed something, but no, Character A appears, still kicking, a few scenes later. It’s Character B who’s dead and who I think was supposed to be mentioned in that sentence.

Dark Days — (2008-2012) Publisher: For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker — an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed… and may be all that prevents her doom. The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt… or be hunted.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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  1. That cover is really bad. Are they bathed in neon? What is that?

  2. It’s pretty awful. I think they’re bathed in Bad Photoshop. For a laugh, check out the Smart Bitches Trashy Books post about this cover.

    Supposedly this cover was meant to draw in more romance fans, and to an extent I get that; romance readers would probably like this series because there’s only one major love interest for our heroine, and this particular book sees a big advancement on the love front. BUT…it could have been pretty. The cover for Nightwalker was pretty, and looked more like Mira’s description than this does. This just looks cheesy. Plus, no legs.

  3. What you say about one love interest is intriguing — romance readers prefer just one love interest? Is that generally true?

  4. Yes. There’s a subset that is ok with a happy combination of more people. But in general, romance fans complain about the kind of love dodecahedrons that sometimes pop up in UF (see LKH). They like their smut, but they want a happy couple riding off into the sunset at the end.

    A lot of the more romance-oriented paranormal series will have a main couple in each book who pair off and are in a happy relationship at the end of that book. The next book will pick up the same metaplot (the same major villain, for example) but from the POV of a different man and woman who then pair off in that book.

  5. (See also: Sherrilyn Kenyon, JR Ward, Kresley Cole, and your faaavorite, Christine Feehan) :-))

    (and actually, Marjorie Liu’s Dirk and Steele is like that)

  6. Yuck. I hope they’re not all as spinelessly “independent” as Feehan’s heroine! (That woman could’ve used a dodecahedron or two.)

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