‘Dark Time’ is book 1 in the Mortal Path series – currently there are two sequels. It is urban fantasy flavoured, but it reads more like pulp fiction at times.
The concept sounded interesting, a woman sells her soul to a demon – midway through her being burnt alive after being falsely accused of being a witch.
It turns out that the demon wanted an assassin and Maliha Crayne (she changes names over the years but is Maliha in the current day) transpired to be very good at killing, then she wussed out and has found a way of being free – if she save enough lives to balance out those she took.
So far so fun – apparently one of my ancestors was burnt as a witch so I have a mild interest in such things, although I am not entirely sure there is evidence to back up my grandmother’s wild claims.
Anyway, the book jumps a bit, there are a few chapters set at various different historical points in order to illustrate Maliha’s long life. This works a little too well, I ended up with the impression that Maliha has a lot more fun before the events detailed in the book – oops.
(Photo from vignettebricks.blogspot)
There is some mythology from Sumer – well the books says so and I am not fussy enough to mind; for those who care Sumer was part of Southern Mesopotamia and is now modern Iraq. There was certainly a mention of Nergal – who I remember as a happy sounding god of plague.
‘Dark Time’ has an interesting premise but I didn’t feel that it kept up with its promising start. For example, if I was trying to effectively outwit a demon by rescuing more souls than I’d ripped from this mortal coil I would be a very busy little bee – which wouldn’t leave any time for friendship with a vacuous Valley Girl or blind dates.
I would be taking down arms companies personally – bullets and explosives may not kill people on their own but they sure as heck help motivated people get a larger body count. But no, Maliha gets involved in a weird and contrived plot about a company using energy blackouts to kill people (somehow…)
(Photo from Games Workshop – this is a Greater Daemon of Nurgle)
There are a couple of semi-subplots that all sort of get shoehorned into the overall plot and there are other demon-sponsored assassins to encounter. There are a lot of subplots actually and it jumps around a lot – from discovering that people are smuggling drugs in laptops (and tipping of the authorities!), involvement in a lawsuit around medical malpractice, Maliha is a writer so we get subjected to her trashy books, she also hosts a charity ball, she investigates some murdered hackers, she shags a Vietnam veteran, she engages in some inept breaking & entering, the list goes on!
Maliha was an ok character, she was repetitive, stupid and easily-distracted but I guess you can take a badly educated girl out of a small village and show her the world without having her gain any common sense.
The premise was far better than the finished article and despite the book ending on a sort of cliff-hanger I am not overly interested in seeing where it goes.
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