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Friday, September 16, 2011

Guest Review: Dark Time

Dark Time (Mortal Path)
Title: Dark Time (Mortal Path) Book 1
Author: Dakota Banks
Page Count: 306
Publisher: EOS (an Imprint of Harper Collins)
Genre: Science Fiction
Overall Grade: A

[50 Words or Less]:
After an excruciating death in 1692, a woman is given a new chance at life as Maliah Crayne—a servant/assassin who is “Ageless.” There’s only one problem. She too good of a woman to do the bidding of the dark devils who gave her this new life!

[Actual Review]:
First of all, Dakota Banks is a wonderful writer.

Within the first few chapters of her novel, Dark Time, she gives a tremendous amount of motivation for her main character, Susannah Layhem, to behave the way she does. Susannah is married to Nathan and is pregnant. Falsely accused of being a witch (the year is 1692), Susannah is burned at the stake. But as she nears death, she is offered a second chance at life as Maliah (Mah-LIE-hah)Crayne. The master demons who offer her this second life are presented with masterful imagery that is a creative mixture of indefinableness and power, and explain that in exchange for this second life, she must do their bidding. Her first vengeful task is to kill the woman who lied about her being a witch.

For chapters, the killing seems to become easier for Maliah, from good-guys to ironically, children. Again, masterfully, just about the time the reader is beginning to think the main character is trapped in evil and is beginning to get used to it, Maliah informs her demon bosses, Nergal and Rabishu, that she wants out of the deal. And, she is brought to this position mainly because of her inability to kill another child, a theme that tugs at the reader throughout the novel. Of course, consequences arrive. For one, she loses her “Agelessness,” and every time she saves a life, or tries to balance the scale for good, she grows a little older.

Soon, Maliah is joined by three primary friends, who help steer her through the transition into a more modern time and act as side-kicks. Maliah also realizes that one of her skills has made it through the ordeal—she’s still able to see the aura of other people. Again, a masterful stroke that the author uses to speed the tempo of some scenes that might tend to bog down without a way for the heroine to fast-forward through their good or bad intentions.

Maliah, herself is a wonderful character, giving us feats of physical daring, assassin tricks, and sexual subtext with every good-looking man she meets. About the point in the novel where a lesser author might let the story sag, Banks tries every trick in the book to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, from trips to exotic places, to romantic encounters and intrigue, until she eventually settles into what turns out to be the main goal of Maliah’s modern dilemma—the murders surrounding project CESR, whose goal is to sell the safety and security of the United States via the control of power grids and electricity.

My only minor criticism is one that almost never occurs in reviewing a novel. Sometimes, there’s just a little too much going on to keep up with, but I’d still give this novel an “A” for effort, even in that. The whole thing is a whirlwind of adventure that crosses countries, different historical time periods, and jetting adventures from city to city, with some romance thrown in to keep it real. I’m not really sure you could ask more out of a book than that. And that’s why I consider it masterfully executed, and so will you.

The story ends with a final confrontation between Maliah and her demon bosses, as well as with possible boyfriends, and the salvation of the United States, as well as a smooth transition into her follow-up novel “Sacrifice,” which I’ll be reviewing soon, and can’t wait to start!

Keep up the good work, Ms. Banks!
Lewis Faulkner is the author of The Headhunter, Radical, Novel Noir, Valentine’s Day—A Romantic Comedy, Miles Overman—A Novel, and Titan’s Rumor, as well as the award-winning play, Captain America.  He lives in Morrisville, NC.  Contact him on the web at www.FaulknerFiction.com
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