Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review: Dark Time

Title: Dark Time
Author: Dakota Banks
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mortal Path/Book 1
Published: July 2009

From the back cover ~

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.

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy for review of Dark Time, the first novel in Dakota Banks' new Mortal Path series. When I read the blurb and the first chapter, found on the author's website, I knew I wanted to read this book. The fact that the heroine hasn't been exactly heroic for centuries and has finally reach the point where she feels and cares about what she is doing really got my interest. She finds a way out of the pact she made, not an easy way out either. Now she has to save a life for every life she's ever taken. I really like that twist. Usually we see a one time, nearly impossible quest that has to be completed for redemption but Banks has Maliha in a life long quest with the odds against her of ever completing it. Balancing the scales won't be easy since she's been an assassin for centuries and she ages whenever she saves a life. So time is not on her side. Added to that she needs to keep her real identity of Maliha Crayne a secret while still maintaining her current career as novelist Marsha Winters.

Susannah Layhem (Maliha Crayne) suffered a horrible fate. Convicted of witchcraft in 1692, she not only lost her family but her life when she is burned at the stake. But a Sumerian demon, Rabishu, gives her a choice ~ eternal death or immortal life as an Ageless one, if she enters into a contract agreeing to obey him. Susannah signs the contract and begins her life as Maliha Crayne, an assassin for the demon. She is not only ageless but is given superior healing powers, speed and strength. She is then trained in martial arts and excels in her new profession. Then all the killings finally catch up to her and she comes to a point where she refuses to kill. After many years of searching she had found a way out of the contract.

Maliha Crayne is a heroine who doesn't start out as a heroine but as someone seeking vengeance. She accepted the contract with the demon so she could live to seek revenge against her accuser. The reality of what she was and what she would become didn't sink in until later. At this point her overriding emotions are grief and revenge. It takes her a very long time for her to start to feel anything else. I liked Maliha and the way she evolved after she decided to break the contract with Rabishu. She started to see people as people and not merely targets. Her emotions that had been buried so deep started peeking through. Once she begins to save lives she in turn begins to let others into her life.

There are a very select few people that Maliha allows to remain in her life. Banks introduces these varied and interesting people through their current relationships with Maliha and through flashbacks on how they met. I'm not a big fan of extended flashbacks and at times the ones in Dark Time ran a bit long for my taste but they did provide insight to how Maliha has been changing with each life she saves. How she is coming back to having a small part of Susannah Layhem become a part of her again. She can never go back to who she was before but she may be albe to reclaim a part of her that found the joy in life.

The plot of Maliha trying to stop a corporation from selling information, compromising America’s security is at times interesting but at other times lags. The scenes having to do with Maliha’s infiltration of the corporation and finding out who’s behind the selling of information could at times be a bit jarring. They would go from present time to Maliha thinking of her past and how she got to be at this point in her life. I also had a bit of a problem with her unending wealth. She spends a ton of money on creating her safe haven and drives a million dollar car and rents a private plane. All this on a novelist’s salary? She is a successful novelist but still… So I chalked it up to her longevity and her previous unlimited supply of funds when she was an Ageless.

I found I far more enjoyed the scenes with Maliha and her select group of friends. She even attempts to have a social life by going on a blind date, which doesn’t turn out all that bad. Seeing her interacting with these people and trying to have at least a piece of a normal life was more interesting than the intrigue of saving the country. There were a number of fight scenes that showcased Maliha’s abilities and I definitely enjoyed those scenes. She may be saving innocent lives to break the contract but she has no problem eliminating the bad guys.

Overall, a solid start to a new series. In general I expect to experience some bumps with the first book in a new series and Dark Time was no exception. But even with those bumps I enjoyed the ride of Maliha and her path to salvation. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, then I would recommend giving Dark Time a try. There are some unanswered questions by the end of the book and I’m looking forward finding out what happens in book two ~ Sacrifice, which come out next year. The publisher HarperCollins has a wonderful feature that offers readers a sneak peek at the first 50 pages of Dark Time. Just follow this link. For more information about Dakota Banks, visit her website.

Rating: B


  1. Hmmm, sounds okay :) LOL, wonder if I should go for it or not? I gotta agree, the heroine sounds different... hmmm.

    Good review Leslie :D

  2. Thanks nath. :) Maliha's experiences are not typical of UF heroines.

  3. Yes, it's the heroine you describe that I find the most interesting. I love that morally questionable edge, and evolution into a desire for redemption. I'll have to add this to the (ever-growing) list!

  4. Renee ~ Maliha kept my interest in this one. Left me wondering where she'll go in the next book. :)