Well, for my next book review, I thought that I’d review the fourth novel (“Pray For Dawn”) in Jocelynn Drake’s excellent six-novel “Dark Days” series. You can check out my reviews of the previous three books here, here and here. I’ll be reviewing other books in between these, but I really love returning to this series 🙂
As you would expect, this novel is best read after reading the previous three books in the series. However, it is also theoretically possible to jump into the series from this book onwards (since it contains recaps and is also the beginning of a new story arc). But, as you would expect, “Pray For Dawn” is part of a larger story and it also isn’t quite a self-contained novel.
So, let’s take a look at “Pray For Dawn”. Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS.
The story begins in a nameless city, where Danaus is hunting a vampire who has killed a young woman. However, when he gets close to the vampire, the vampire’s eyes glow red and he exhibits superhuman strength and reflexes. After the fight, Danaus is confronted by a mysterious misty creature called Gaizka who threatens him and everything he holds dear.
After this, Danaus gets a call from Themis headquarters ordering him to Savannah. Not only has there been a mysterious murder but Ryan is in town, Nicolai is suspicious of Danaus and, worst of all, Mira is acting very strangely too…
One of the very first things that I will say about “Pray For Dawn” is that it is slightly different to the previous three books and this can take a bit of getting used to.
It’s a really great novel, but prepare yourself for a shock when you start reading it. For starters, Danaus is the narrator (rather than Mira). Although my first reaction to this was something along the lines of “WTF?!?!“, this change in narrator actually works really well once you get used to it.
Not only does it allow the story to have a bit more of a film noir/thriller atmosphere (since Danaus’ narration is a little bit more “matter of fact” than Mira’s), but it also allows Mira to be a mysterious character for a change. And, although I was getting comfortable with the series before I read this novel, this change gives the series some new life that makes it feel almost as fresh as “Nightwalker” was when I first read it. Plus, of course, we also get to learn a lot more about Danaus, which is never a bad thing 🙂
In addition to this, there’s also a slight genre change which also works really well too. After the thrilling fantastical drama of the previous two books, it’s great to see the series go back to it’s horror genre roots too 🙂 Not only that, this novel also incorporates elements from the detective genre too.
Although the solution to the murder mystery at the beginning of the story is fairly obvious, it’s pretty cool to see Mira and Danaus being detectives. Not only that, the story also contains a couple of smaller mysteries (eg: why is Mira acting strangely?) that are actually more gripping than the main mystery at the heart of the story.
As for the horror elements of this story, they’re absolutely brilliant 🙂 Not only are there a few moments of gory horror, but there is also a really good mixture of gothic horror, supernatural horror, ominous suspense, grim tragedy and psychological horror too. Seriously, if you loved the gothic atmosphere and intriguingly dark mysteriousness of the first novel in the series, then you’ll feel right at home here.
Likewise, this novel also recaptures some of the sensuousness that made the first novel in the series so delicious to read. Although Danaus’ narration is a little bit more gruff, stoic and matter-of-fact, this just serves to make the novel’s moments of sensuality even softer and more vivid by contrast. In addition to some romantic moments between Danaus and Mira, this sensual element of the story is best shown when Danaus vicariously experiences the emotions of a newly-turned vampire who feeds for the first time.
Plus, this novel also works really well as a thriller novel too. Although the action-thriller elements of the story are kept slightly more subtle (although there are still plenty of fights, chases etc..), the story is also a more traditional story-based thriller too and this works really well. The plot is focused and the story moves along at a confident pace. It is neither fast-paced nor slow-paced, but it keeps you reading with lots of intriguing twists, drama and mysteries.
However, as I hinted earlier, this isn’t quite a self-contained novel. Although the story’s main plot is (sort of) resolved within the last few pages, this is the first novel in the series to end on a really major cliffhanger. Luckily, since the series is complete and the other two books are available, this isn’t the major issue that it probably was back when these books were new (seriously, never read an in-progress series! I learnt this lesson with Matthew Reilly’s “Six Sacred Stones” back in 2010. Then foolishly forgot it in 2011 and 2014). Still, it is a bit surprising – but not shocking- to see an ending like this being used in these books.
All in all, “Pray For Dawn” is an absolutely brilliant gothic horror detective thriller novel 🙂 Although the changes from the previous three books can take a bit of getting used to, it is well worth making the effort to do this.
Although the second and third books in the series were a lot of fun to read, this is the first book in the series to recapture the awe-struck feeling I had when I started reading this series a couple of weeks ago. It breathes new life into a series that is great, but was starting to get a little bit too familiar. And I cannot praise this highly enough 🙂
If I had to give “Pray For Dawn” a rating out of five, it would get a five.