Hello! My review today is for a book I received from the author in exchange for an honest review. It belongs to the Fantasy and Paranormal Romance genre. So, if this is something you’d like to try then read on!
“Beckoning Darkness” is the first book in the “The Damned and the Pure” series by J. D. Stonebridge. The name of the series makes sense since the hero is a “Damned” demon and the heroine is a “Pure” angel. I liked the depiction of the angel, Ariel, on the book cover but that sword is what stole my heart. It was released in 2014 and is now part of a trilogy. So don’t worry about waiting for the next book to come out.
God left humanity in the care of the angels. Centuries have passed, and Heaven is preparing for His return.
After centuries of imprisonment in Heaven, Ariel is given a chance to redeem herself in the eyes of the archangels. Years after her last descent, Ariel must return to the mortal land to fulfill her mission for the coming of God. But the memories of her past sins catch up to her, and Ariel must decide where her faith truly lies.
The city of Chicago was the chosen residence of the eccentric demon, Caelum. His taste of entertainment sets him apart from the rest of his kind, driving him to walk amongst the mortal men. But when he is presented with an opportunity to have a hand in Hell’s grand plan, temptation beckoned him to take the risks. Walking through shadows and nightmares he crosses paths with an angel from Heaven, and the memories of his forgotten humanity begin to resurface.
Both Heaven and Hell have plans for the End of Days with the angel, Ariel, and the demon, Caelum, at the center. When faith is threatened, two natural enemies become unlikely allies in a war for all Humanity.
I have never read a book by this author so I was excited to see what I would find. Beckoning Darkness opens with Ariel being released from imprisonment now that the archangels have a mission for her. What her sin was exactly even she doesn’t know. Her memories of that time have been erased. It’s not that her memory doesn’t try to resurface; it’s just that she’d rather not remember her shame. Fresh out of prison, she is assigned a task on earth and is eager to redeem herself in the eyes of Heaven as it prepares for the return of God.
Ariel is your typical Goody Two-shoes as you would expect of a mythological angel. She reminds me of that one kid in your class who refuses to budge a centimeter from the rules *points to self*. It’s almost like she is brainwashed since creation (which she probably is) into thinking that the world is black and white. She believes the best of all Heavenly beings and the worst of anyone remotely related to Hell. In a way, Ariel is the most naïve and innocent creature you have ever come across. She is an adult but I am sure you know street kids way smarter than her. The core of her ignorance is her belief that doubt is sin. This is why she fights so hard to keep her “faith” even when the signs clearly tell her otherwise.
I enjoyed Caelum’s entrance. It shows you the harsh reality of humans and where demonic influence would actually stand if it existed as in this book. You could say our boy’s a bit unique. He is a demon who doesn’t like Hell or torturing souls. He has no loyalty to anyone but himself. So, in many ways, he is the opposite of Ariel. He survives dodging Hellish beings especially his superiors. Unlike Ariel, he loves the human world. He enjoys the fine comforts of life. Caelum has no recollection of his life before he was a demon but he knows that he used to be human. He is smart and charming. Did I mention this is all a façade for how deadly he really is? While angels can fly and heal, Caelum can move between shadows undetected and create nightmares. As Fate (or someone else *coughs*) would have it, Caelum and Ariel are assigned the same task by their higher-ups: influence the same human. Since beings off Heaven and Hell are sworn enemies, our leads are polar opposites and they are competing for the same prize, their first meeting goes something like this.
Ariel’s straight-faced self-righteous dialogues in reaction to Caelum’s flirtatious provocation remind me of Castiel from Supernatural. It’s hilarious and kind of sad (for Ariel).
I wasn’t expecting the book to veer off in a completely different direction with how that particular mission ended. I thought the story would be about that mission. I was quite glad though because that’s where the plot thickens. Ariel’s dreaded doubts arise and I delighted in her inner war. Is it bad that I didn’t take the woman’s side? Yes, I sold my heart to a demon but you can’t really blame me. Caelum grows on you pretty fast. He’s a swell guy despite being a demon. Are you telling me you wouldn’t want to be influenced by someone like that? !
Coming back to the plot, mysterious events start to happen around them and disturbing rumors reach them (ooooooooohhh!). As you might have guessed, this is the part where they shake hands and decide to help each other “solve the mystery” *Uses Shaggy voice*. Ariel is still a haughty biatch but that’s okay, she goes through a tough inner battle and plays her part admirably. Lots of other supernatural creatures join the party and the bloodbath begins!! That’s always my favorite part 😀
Strange mysteries, heart-rending betrayal, slick action, soul deep agony, fun world building, interesting characters, engaging storyline; yup, Beckoning Darkness has it all. Not only are the two main characters well developed but the secondary ones are all integral to the story and refreshing. The main mystery wasn’t hard to solve but I guess the author intended that. The others kept me hooked and I enjoyed how they unfolded. There is still a lot we don’t know and the book ends in a sort-of cliffhanger.
The writing style pulled me in from the prologue and kept me in its spell till the very end. I have read a fair number of Paranormal Romances about angels and demons but I was glad to see this book take a different approach to it. The plot did not depend on romance (Thank God!) so I was able to enjoy the story without the compulsory seduction, couple fights and make ups. This was nice. It was really nice. One thing I wanted to see more of was the world-building. I felt like a lot of things just existed but weren’t explained properly. In the beginning, there is significant human interaction so you can see how the supernatural world fits into the human one. After that, the humans are not mentioned yet everything happens in the human world. There is so much more I wanted to know but I thought was unfairly kept from me. You might be frustrated by some aspects of the writing like not having enough to go on but it won’t prevent you from enjoying the book. I hope all that will be revealed in the second book.
Will Caelum and Ariel become buddy-buddy or will they remain “just friends”? Find out in the next episode of “Days of Our Lives in Hell”. JK do read the next book in the series, “Wavering Light” to see where the story goes.
If you love reading Paranormal Fiction then Beckoning Darkness will give you something new in this genre. Even with its weaknesses, it is a very well written book with characters that you can connect with and an engaging plot.
Will you be adding this to your TBR list?