Book Review: Darkness Before Dawn

Darkness Before Dawn
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 29, 2012
Page Count: 342
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Paranormal Dystopian, Vampires

This book had me when I saw the word vampires. I am a vampire junkie - yes, I know there are gazillion stories about the fanged ones out there these days, but I still can't seem to get my fill. The fact that this book combined the paranormal and dystopian genres was also intriguing. I know other books out there are starting to combine these genres, but this is the first one I have read. Darkness Before Dawn is an addicting, dark world that was action packed from page one and left me craving more.

In vampire novels, I am always looking for something to set the supernatural beings apart from other stories. I really liked the vampire lore in this one and the addition of The Thirst. The story is set in a futuristic Denver; the city is surrounded by a wall to keep the vampires out and the humans in. A lengthy war raged between the two groups until the vampires finally gained the upper hand. After signing a peace treaty, the vampires know control the United States. Humans pay taxes in blood, but not everyone is happy about the current system. The blood is supposed to be insurance that the city will be safe from vampire attacks. In reality, that isn't exactly how things work in spite of blood becoming the dominant currency in this new society. Dawn, a 17 year old girl, has been chosen to follow in her deceased parents' footsteps as the delegate to the ruling vampire over Denver. Can she keep the vampires happy and still keep the interest of her own kind at heart?

I really liked that the vampires in this stayed true to traditional lore in many ways, but that the authors still managed to find ways to also make their supernatural beings different from those I've read about before. Vampires in this society "have heartbeats, they breathe, their skin is warm" (pg. 8). In most books, vampires are cold and dead. This world allows vampires to come into being in one of two ways. Some vampires are born - they are the offspring of two other born vampires. This isn't common as female vampires become infertile after producing one child. Vampires can also be made; this is done in the traditional way of being drained to the point of death and then consuming vampire blood. I was fascinated by the vampire social hierarchy in this one. Born vampires are the ones with powers and the made vampires aka Lessers are like second class citizens with little to no rights. The wealthy ruling class of vampires often keeps more of the blood taxes than is needed while the Lessers starve and attempt to sneak into the city to feed off its human inhabitants. Furthermore, the addition of the Night Train and the Night Watchmen was another element I really enjoyed.

In addition, I really enjoyed the characters in this one. Each one came alive for me. The introduction of a love triangle, while not unexpected, was a bit frustrating. This seems to be so overdone these days. It also seemed like a bit of instalove for boy #2 on the scene. I get it - he is appealing - but I just don't think people truly fall in love that quickly. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems more like an infatuation. I will let the love triangle pass with little grumbling because I enjoyed Dawn so much. She is a strong heroine with intellect and bravery. She also has some skeletons in her closet that influence her actions.

Written in engaging prose, Darkness Before Dawn, sets up a new universe that I loved spending time in. I was excited to see that there are more books planned in this series. There is still so much story left to tell. I always love books with a strong sense of place and vivid descriptions. Darkness Before Dawn certainly delivers on both accounts. The book kept me in its iron grip until I had devoured the whole thing. If you're a fan of Julie Kagawa's Immortal Rules, I'd suggest giving this one a try. I'm interested to see how the two compare.

One Last Gripe: I predicted the twists a bit too easily.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The Vampires, of course

First Sentence: As the carriage rolled across the desolate plains, the assassin slid his gaze over to his traveling companions.

Favorite Character: Dawn

Least Favorite Character: Michael

This electrifying new trilogy blends the best of paranormal and dystopian storytelling in a world where the war is over. And the vampires won.

Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters....

Darkness Before Dawn is a fresh new story with captivating characters, unexpected plot twists, a fascinating setting, and a compelling voice. Written under the name J. A. London by a talented mother-son team, the trilogy is perfect for fans of True Blood and the House of Night and Morganville Vampires series.


  1. Ohh I SO want to read this one! The description of it being a blend of paranormal and dystopian is what really sold me- but I haven't seen this one around very much and haven't had a chance to hear about it really or pick it up yet!

    I'll have to make sure I do that soon :) LOVE that there's a different sort of spin on vampire mythology in how they exist (warm, breathing, etc.).

    Great review, Andrea!

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After

    1. Thanks for the comments. I always enjoy when vampires get a new lease on life. The "Thirst" is a neat addition that I haven't seen in other books. I hope you love this one as much as I did.

  2. I really enjoyed your review. I wish my library would hurry up and order this, so I can read it already..

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    1. Thanks! I'm sending "order this book ASAP" vibes to your library.

  3. I just finished this book this morning and really liked it. Michael made me wanna punch him in the face most of the time. Ohhhh Victor *sighhh* He is one sexy vampire. :) And I kinda felt like the twists were a little too predictable too but I know I'll def be reading the next in the series.

    1. I had those same thoughts about Michael and Victor. Even though the twists were easy to predict, I really loved the writing style and the world. I am looking forward to the next book too. :)

  4. I can't wait to read this one! As you know, I read and loved The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa! This sounds different enough that I think I'll love this one too! I hope, anyway!! Great review Andrea! :)

    1. I hope you love this one too. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the similarities and differences between the two.

  5. I can't wait to read this one! Your review really caught my attention. I've never heard of any books that combine paranormal and dystopian, so I'd love to see how it blends together. Great review!

    1. I'm glad the review caught your attention. This is one that I hadn't heard much about before I read it. It was really good though so I am excited to see others reading it and adding it to their TBR lists.


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