Dark Time (Mortal Path #1)
by Dakota Banks
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: July 28th, 2009
Three hundred years ago, she sold her soul to a demon. Now she wants it back.
For centuries, the woman calling herself Maliha Crayne has lived a second life—as an assassin for the malevolent creature who owns her soul. A haunted killer with the blood of countless victims on her hands, she has finally discovered a way to nullify the demonic pact that chains her: If she saves a life for every one she has taken, she will be free.
But if she fails, her punishments will be unspeakable, unendurable . . . and neverending.
When a novel has a story deeply ingrained in mythology, I’m exhilarated knowing I’ll be delving into a legendary world adapted by the author to fit the story. (i.e. I’m in heaven, or the Elysian Fields, or Valhalla…you see what I mean). Dark Time introduces us to Sumerian mythology. At least it was an introduction for me as it was first time reading about it.
The backstory for this series is complex but oh so rewarding…so I’m going to give you the highlights as I understand them…
- Anu, the king of all gods, fathered 7 demon offspring called the Utukki.
- He left the demons in the charge of Lord Nergal (the God of War and Lord of the Underworld) who gave them god-like powers and charged them to do his evil deeds on Earth, which they referred to as the Great Above.
- Anu, displeased at this, feared the demons would have too much control over the Great Above so he dealt with it like so…
- He made it so they could only enter the Great Above under very limited circumstances.
- He gave each of the demons a fatal weakness that could be exploited.
- He depicted those weaknesses on the ‘Tablet of the Overlord’ that was written in a language unreadable without the translating lens he created.
- He shattered the lens into seven shards and hid them separately on the Great Above so the demons couldn’t find them.
- Understandably, each of the 7 demons wanted the tablet and shards for themselves but couldn’t perform the search.
- This is where the Ageless humans came in. A demon would prey on the dying and offer them immortality if they would agree to do its evil bidding. Only some of the Ageless were tasked with searching for the tablet and shards.
- Susannah is targeted by the demon, Rabishu. Falsely accused of witchcraft in the 17th century, abandoned by her husband and friends, and angry, Susannah agrees to the demon’s proposal. Without knowing how to read or write, she signs the contract with blood without knowledge of the details.
- For 300 years she is his assassin and kills, albeit reluctantly, anyone he says she has to – evil and innocent alike.
Now in current time… As punishment for persistent requests to release her soul, Susannah is sent to assassinate an innocent and finds that she cannot. She decides then she is no longer able to carry out his orders and will do whatever it takes to get free of him.
After digging into the details of her contract, she discovers two things: the history of the Tablet of the Overlord and lens and its significance, and thanks to Anu, there’s a way she can redeem her soul. She must give up immortality, save a life for every one she’s taken and age an undefined amount of time every time she does. Oh, and she must have a weighing scale etched into her skin to track her progress. The scale painfully shifts when she succeeds in saving someone. When it’s evenly balanced, redemption is hers. She agrees to the terms, changes her name to Maliha and starts her life over. She chooses the hard road - the mortal path!
Banks’ remarkable character development ability forces a strong emotion from you about Maliha. Depending on what you find acceptable or believable as a woman, you either love her or hate her. I found myself committing to her whole-heartedly, praising her independence but still feeling sad for her at times.
I’m not sure if I have a major girl crush or if I’m just really envious but she is a great heroine. Strong but feminine, tough but compassionate and treasures the few friends she has let into her life.
A black McLaren F1!
Jake, a new love interest for Maliha, doesn’t play a huge role in this novel, however, he’s involved in a very surprising cliffhanger that made me rush out to buy the next in her series – Sacrifice.
Since this is my first Dakota Banks novel, I’m not sure if going back and forth in time is her signature style or not. She used this approach frequently and devoted entire chapters to reveal a certain character’s history (e.g. how she became friends with Yanmeng). I found it to be very well done and powerful; however, if you’re not a fan of the technique, you may not find this novel as enjoyable as I did.
Banks delivers a fabulous tale of a woman’s fall from grace and her quest for redemption deeply rooted in Sumerian mythology. This novel has everything that makes a great Urban Fantasy novel - conflict, suspense, major obstacles, compelling characters, and fabulous entertainment value. Highly recommend reading it!
4 Bad Boys – Really Enjoyed It!!!!