Review: “Burn The Night” By Jocelynn Drake (Novel)

Ever since I accidentally rediscovered a horror novel that I’d bought on a whim about a decade ago and then forgotten about, I’ve been fascinated by Jocelynn Drake’s excellent “Dark Days” series. But, alas, all good things must come to an end. So, after reading the first five novels in the series (you can find my reviews of them here, here, here, here and here), I finally started reading the final novel – “Burn The Night”.

As you may have guessed, you should read the other five novels before reading this one. Not only will you be a bit puzzled about what is going on if you haven’t read the previous five novels, but you’ll also miss out on a lot of the significance and drama of various parts of this story. So, read the other “Dark Days” books before reading this one!

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Burn The Night”. This review will contain some mild-moderate SPOILERS.

This is the 2011 Harper Voyager (US) paperback edition of “Burn The Night” that I read.

“Burn The Night” is, as you may have guessed, the conclusion to the story that has been building over the past few novels. With Aurora free to build an army, Cynnia’s only chance of saving the world is to gain as many allies as possible. As such, she has sent her sister Nyx out in order to find Rowe and any other allies…

Meanwhile, in Savannah, Mira has her own problems. Not only does she still have to deal with Nick, but Jabari is also out for her blood too and the fanatics of the Daylight Coalition are also growing bolder and more aggressive…..

One of the first things that I will say about this novel is that the second half of it is much better than the first. As regular readers might have guessed from yesterday’s article, my first impressions of this novel weren’t that great. Not only was I annoyed about the narration (more on that later), but I also worried that this novel contained too much fantasy and not enough horror! Yet, as the story progressed, I found myself utterly gripped. As the story progressed, it felt much more like a worthy part of this amazing series. Although this novel takes a while to get going, it is well worth sticking around!

I should start by talking about the novel’s fantasy elements. If you remember, I thought that the fifth novel was a bit like “Game Of Thrones”. Well, this novel is a lot more like “Game Of Thrones” and this is both a good and a bad thing.

On the plus side, it’s a gloriously epic drama about two opposing armies and, despite the relative lack of horror elements, this novel is still as merciless and bloody as you would expect. On the downside, this is more of a “traditional” fantasy novel than the other novels in the series (and, tellingly, it is also a little bit longer too – at 418 pages). Whilst the slight genre change isn’t an inherently bad thing, it’s a bit of a jarring change considering how the series has told more of a gothic horror/thriller story (with fantasy elements) most of the time.

But, once you get over this genre change, then the story remains as gripping as the first and fifth novels were. This is helped by the fact that the series’ action thriller elements are used to full effect here. Whilst you shouldn’t expect a dramatic fight on literally every page, there are enough fast-paced action scenes to keep the story gripping and to carry you through the slightly weaker first half of the novel to the much better second half. Likewise, as the novel progresses, the story’s “Game Of Thrones”-style politics gets more complex and interesting as the alliance takes shape.

It is also worth mentioning the narration in this novel too. Unlike the previous five novels, this one uses *ugh* rotating first-person narration (Why?!?!?!) – with some segments being narrated by Mira and some segments narrated by Nyx.

Thankfully, these narrator changes don’t happen too often and we’re given enough time (usually 3-4 chapters or more) to get used to each narrator between changes. Even so, some clear way of signposting the changes in narrator would have been useful. Although you can usually work out who the narrator is by looking at what other characters are mentioned, it is a little bit confusing to start another chapter and then only realise that the narrator has changed after a paragraph or so. Yes, this is much more of an issue in the earlier parts of the novel than the later parts, but it was a little annoying.

I really have mixed feelings about Nyx’s segments of the novel too. On the one hand, they help to add extra depth to several characters in addition to emphasising one of the main themes of the series. Like Mira, Danaus and Rowe – Nyx is something of an misfit. She’s basically the naturi version of Mira (even down to her complex romance with Rowe, which mirrors Mira and Danaus’ relationship) and this really helps to emphasise the uplifting theme of misfits being awesome 🙂 Plus, of course, these chapters also help to make the naturi seem more complex and sympathetic, which fits into the novel’s message of solidarity amongst those disliked by the mainstream.

On the other hand, the novel wouldn’t have lost a huge amount if Nyx’s adventures had been kept “off screen” and relayed through dialogue instead. Not only would the story be a lot more focused (both narratively and tonally) with just Mira narrating, but it would also be a little bit shorter. Don’t get me wrong, more “Dark Days” is never a bad thing – but I found that the increased length of the story meant that it sometimes diverged from the brilliantly sharp and streamlined storytelling of some of the previous novels – like “Nightwalker” and “Wait For Dusk”.

As for how this novel concludes the series, it does this really well. Without spoiling too much, the ending to this novel is a satisfying reward for reading six novels 🙂 Yes, the ending does leave a few things tantalisingly mysterious but there are so many spectacular and powerfully emotional moments that really provide a beautifully satisfying ending to an absolutely wonderful journey. Seriously, I’ll really miss spending time with Mira and Danaus.

All in all, whilst “Burn The Night” isn’t a perfect novel, it is a very good ending to an amazing series 🙂 Yes, you’ll have to grapple with multiple first-person narrators and a shift away from the horror genre and towards the fantasy genre. But, if you can deal with this, then the novel gets significantly better as it progresses. As I said, it’s a brilliant ending to a brilliant series – even if, on it’s own merits, “Burn The Night” is only an ok to good novel. Still, I’ll really miss this series 😦 It has been one of the coolest, most atmospheric and generally awesome series of books that I’ve ever read.

If I had to give this novel a rating out of five, the first half or so of it would maybe just about get a three, but the second half would get four and a half.

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