Title: Surrender the Dark
Author: L.A. Banks
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release: March 29, 2011
Paperback: 400 pages
4.5 out of 5 Robots!
Celeste Jackson’s life has been a series of tragic occurrences. Haunted, the thirty-three-year-old woman has bounced from therapists to group homes, to drug halfway houses. Plagued by nightmares and hallucinations and misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, she is found by the angel Azrael – her protector. But as Azrael helps her unlock her powers, and they work to amass an army of those with powers like Celeste’s in order to fight the forces of darkness, Celeste has as much to teach Azrael as he has to teach her. She’s been down the path of temptation and addiction. Now she must help Azrael overcome the one temptation that could make him an eternal prisoner – his addiction to her.
I’m a big fan of L.A. Banks. I loved her Vampire Huntress Legend series and I did start her Crimson Moon series which is pretty good so far. I was excited when I found out she was starting another project – this time featuring angels. Her books are full of spirituality; light vs. dark, evil vs. good kind of thing. It’s not exactly something I look for (or even want) in a book but I’ve grown quite accustomed to her writing and really enjoy it. Banks creates really down-to-earth characters and puts them in a modernized setting that is recognizable and comfortably familiar. Surrender the Dark is a really great opening to a series that I believe will be just as successful as her Vampire Huntress Legend series.
The great thing about Celeste is that she’s someone who is very down on her luck and far from perfect. She’s had a really hard childhood (and adulthood for that matter). She currently lives in a poverty- stricken neighborhood with a boyfriend that never hesitates to tell her how worthless she is. He even smacks her around every now and then for good measure. She’s hooked on drugs and is known to see things that aren’t really there. Basically she’s on the brink of suicide. She feels like she’s going crazy and her life is seriously a living hell. So you may be wondering why I said these were great things about her. All of these things make Celeste a vulnerable and imperfect character from page one. Some may empathize with her while others may frown upon the fixer-upper character before them. Either way Celeste is definitely not ideal. But as she learns who she is and what her destiny entails, the reader gets to watch her transformation and see that she has always been a strong woman. It’s easy to fall in love with her character as the book progresses and the story unfolds.
Azrael’s character was a very nice match for Celeste. Like a newborn baby, he is bombarded by so many new feelings and sensations when he falls. And even though Celeste has no reason in the world to trust him or anything he says, she still finds it in her heart to help him. They are both equally helpless but in totally different aspects. The connection between the two is evident from the very beginning and it only grows stronger as the story progresses. I did kind of feel like their relationship wasn’t developed enough at certain points. I get that Azrael is this beautiful, kind, savior-type guy but I felt the “I love yous” came a little too prematurely for my taste. But once I accepted the fact that the two of them were going to come together really hard and fast, whether I liked it or not, it was easier for me to enjoy their relationship.
The supporting characters, like in Banks’ other novels, are pretty great. Banks always leaves you wanting more about each character you meet. I always feel like each character should get individual novels or stories. Celeste is part of the Remnant, a group of females that will someday inspire the world to “surrender the dark” in themselves and tip the scale in favor of the light. And the other Remnants are talked about and actually named (with their respective protector) in the epilogue of Surrender the Dark. So I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them and their stories.
As I mentioned before, there is a lot of spirituality in the book. It may take some getting used to if you’re not familiar with Banks’ style of writing. But it’s both inspirational and uplifting in a way that doesn’t have strong religious undertones. I appreciate the fact that Banks isn’t preaching at me but rather giving me a different perspective on life while making me want to be a better person. Cheesy I know, but that’s how it is for me. I think the blend of paranormal fiction with her dose of spirituality can be easily enjoyed by many different readers. So if you haven’t tried a book by Banks before I definitely say give this one a go. If vamps are more your thing, I definitely recommend her Vampire Huntress Legend series. And although I haven’t really gotten into her Crimson Moon series yet, it’s about werewolves if that’s what you’re craving.
P.S. (cover talk)
It’s pretty gorgeous! I love the colors and the cover model for Celeste is really pretty. I like Azrael’s wings too. Job well done.
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