Nightfall - Ellen Connor Originally posted at WickedLilPixie Reviews
Nightfall is the first book in the new Dark Edge Dawning trilogy series by Ellen Connor, a writing duo comprised of Ann Aguirre and Carrie Lofty. The Dark Age has come upon the world. In Eastern Europe, economies have crumbled, power sources have become extinct, terrorist cells and hatred crimes have quadrupled, martial law has taken over. Road gangs have moved across wide sweeps of territories… And this all precludes the frightening monsters that begin to take over. This darkness has quickly spread to the eastern United States and is rapidly moving west. In this new era, we meet our heroine Jenna Barclay living in Oregon, where that last bits of hope to the “old way of life” are found. As she is entering her home, she is kidnapped by a mysterious and rather large (*cough* hunky) man named Mason and taken to a cabin in the woods outside of civilization. Mason speaks of Mitch, her father, who has been dead since she was twelve years old. When Jenna was a little girl, Mitch had preached the coming of a bleak age of destructive magic, and she is skeptical of Mason’s sanity as he claims to have known the man. She is skeptical, until he presents her with a letter, written to her, from her Dad which ends in a prophecy centering around her. What Jenna is about to realize is that what has been happening out East is moving in with a quick swiftness, despite what the news reports have told everyone, and it is far more oppressive than she could have imagined. Mason has not only just saved her life in the nick of time, but has set her on a path to become more than she ever could have imagined. As a small group of people fleeing the closest city to their cabin begs to be let in to take refuge from the predatory hell dogs chasing them, it becomes even more apparent that Mason is telling the truth… and that he needs her just as much as she needs him. And there are some seriously frightening things going on outside that cabin door.

I went in to Nightfall not knowing what to expect, you might remember, I try not to read blurbs. I don’t want to give too much away in this review because I thoroughly enjoyed the element of surprise and want you to, as well. This was a dark and Griiitttyyy-with-a-Capital-G book and I loved every second of it. It had a “Night of the Living Dead” flavor, where they are trapped inside of a shelter for survival and know they have to move on to another location, might possibly find other survivors and another, better, place to hole themselves in. But they also have to survive without any technology, and have to get to wherever they can by foot. There is one scene that reminded me of one of the scariest movies of all time, “John Carpenters’ The Thing”, and I was so freaked out!

Edna wasn’t a person anymore. She looked inside out. And that wasn’t even the worst. New limbs protruded from her torso, covered in fine black hair. They all flailed in unison, and her round middle bloated further beneath his horrified gaze. She carried a faint glow like the dogs, corrupted in the same way. Tru wanted to look away, only he couldn’t, because her bulging, milky eyes had frozen him in place. pg. 69

Poor Edna! And this is just a tiny small taste of the twisted, macabre, and suspenseful world the dynamic duo writing team have created. The hero, Mason, has a very tortured past, he is not just rough around the edges, he is cold-hearted-rough and prickly everywhere. Jenna has the survival skills she learned from her crazy paranoid father as he prepared her for the apocalypse he preached was coming, but she also had the compassion needed to help others and lead. Science and magic begin to come together: some things can be explained by sheer mathematics and reason, whereas other things begin to happen that have no obvious explanation. This is a dark, bleak story with very little comedic relief, as we get to know each character and the role they play in keeping the monsters at bay and surviving. As a horror movie buff, I could see elements of both the films “Terminator” (referenced in the book as well) with regards to the love story between Mason and Jenna; and the movie “Aliens” coming in to play, in terms of the creepiness that lurked in the darkness just around the corner. Hmmm I just realized that both movies have Michael Biehn in them. That’s how I saw Mason… as a combo of Kyle Reese (Terminator) and Cpl Dwayne Hicks (Aliens). But I digress! Nightfall is a also very interesting social experiment, watching each character take on the role of Survivor, making use of themselves and their inherent nature, instinct, and intellect in the game of staying alive. Strategies for existence can be dismal and agonizing, and the decisions that have to be made are not often pretty.

My heart raced, it sank to my stomach, and it stuttered at the tension between Jenna and Mace, and I hung to every page in anticipation. Nightfall is very different that anything else out there, and I don’t see it being for everyone, but for me it had a little bit of all the things I love in a story: wildness, horror, suspense, tenderness, and sex. If you like scary, apocalyptic stories with tragedy, redemption, and a lot of sick gore, a blooming love story despite all the odds, with hot smexy scenes… this is your book. But warning, it is very very intense. Also this book is part of a trilogy but the main arc between the hero and heroine end with this story and the next book centers around a secondary character we meet. I can’t wait for the next one in the trilogy, Midnight, out in September!