Title: Darker Days
Author: Jus Accardo
Series: Darker Agency
Genre: YA paranormal
Format read: ebook
So we’re on our last vacation (sob!) of the summer. Yesterday, our first full day in the Poconos, we went to a minor league baseball game to watch the affiliates of the Yankees defeat (finally, after eight and a half innings of absolutely NO SCORING—I was just starting to worry that overtime was going to be necessary and the Mini Macs were already overdue for their naps) the affiliates of the Phillies. Since I find baseball only mildly more exciting than golf–which pales slightly in comparison to watching paint dry–this was the ideal time to engage in one of my favorite outdoor activities—reading.
Perfect, right? I wanted to have Darker Days finished by the time it went on sale, which according to Goodreads is today. (Amazon and Barnes and Noble say you have to wait another week, though—sorry. You can preorder, though; they’ll let you. I already had this review on the calendar, so consider it a teaser.) All in all, it was a fabulous way to spend the afternoon. Comfortable weather, the team my brother and sister-in-law were rooting for won, and I got lots of reading done. Win-win.
As a bonus, it was a really fun book to read—inside or out.
On to the review:
Jessie Darker isn’t exactly what you’d call a normal sixteen-year-old. Sure, she goes to high school, where she may or may not fall asleep regularly in class and/or be overly familiar with the concept of after school detention. But when she’s not at school, she’s more likely to be working as the other half of the two-person investigation team that makes up the Darker Agency than participating in typical teen extracurricular activities.
What is the Darker Agency, you ask?
As far as the good people of Penance were concerned—most of them, anyway—the Darker Agency did the standard detective thing. We solved all sorts of cases. Stolen inheritances, missing loves ones, we even spied on a cheating spouse or two, but what we specialized in was far from common knowledge.
What we specialized in was just a bit…darker.
Demonic possessions, angry ghosts, all the things going bump in the night that the general population had no idea existed, we did it all. They were what Mom referred to as our alternative cases. My favorite kind. We were like the A-Team of the Otherworld, only with a permanent address and laminated business cards.
(I should point out here that the t-shirt toss at the game was done via something called a t-shirt “Gatling gun”. It was pretty lame and only worked about half of the time—but while it was being driven around the field, the theme music to The A-Team was being played. I took it as a sign. Clearly my reading this book during that game was meant to be.)
But when a fairly routine (!) zombie-related house call goes slightly awry, Jessie first becomes worried that something is a bit funky in the town of Penance. When their brand new client reveals that he is sharing body space with one of the Seven Deadly Sins—and that the other six are out on the town as well—she thinks she knows why her zombie-in-the-pool incident went so wrong so quickly.
Lukas Scott got on the wrong side of a vengeful witch back in the late 1800s, and his soul has been fused to Wrath ever since. The Sins, usually locked inside a carefully hidden wooden box, can only be freed by a human. Once released, they infect—possess—humans who have already shown a predisposition towards their particular sin. Five days after the box’s opening, the Sins will be recalled to the box—along with the human bodies they’ve infected. If they’re captured before the deadline though, the humans can be saved. Lukas knows that someone—a powerful witch—has learned a spell that will enable the Sins to stay out of the box forever, destroying the essences of the humans whose bodies they will then permanently inhabit. The clock is ticking. Loudly.
Jessie Darker is an entertaining narrator. Her snarky sense of humor, love of all things chocolate, and Buffy-esque capabilities really made this book.
Very few things in life couldn’t be made better with chocolate. Well, chocolate and sharp weapons.
Obviously, a kick-butt heroine after my own heart. (Plus, she has a dog. But I won’t say anything more about that, because it might be considered a mild spoiler. Trust me, though, it’s cute. In a slightly icky paranormal kind of way.)
She’s not without her flaws, though. Apparently, she’s not much of a reader—as is evidenced by the “paperback growing mold at the bottom of her backpack” and the fact that she has a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card just sitting around, waiting to be offered as a bribe to demons. (I know. Who gets a B&N gift card and doesn’t spend it immediately? It’s just not natural.) She doesn’t apply herself at school, and she frequently causes her mother—who is essentially, though not exactly, a single parent—to come up with new and creative forms of punishment for the times that Jessie neglects to exactly follow her directions.
Punishments like having to deal with zombie extractions and pet possessions. If only the rest of us had options like that.
Actually, Jessie’s mother Klaire was easily my second favorite character. She totally had her daughter’s number—most of the time, anyway. One of my favorite scenes between the two of them was on the morning that Lukas first came to the agency. Klaire was going to head out right away to start tracking down the family of the witch that imprisoned Lukas, and she told Jessie that she’d have to keep an eye of Lukas. Jessie didn’t mind this at all, since 1) Lukas was hot and 2) she hadn’t bothered studying for the history test she was supposed to have fourth period. Unfortunately, her mother had other plans.
“Bringing him to school is still a mistake.”
“I’ve spoken to him at length this morning. It’s fascinating—how it all works. I don’t believe it’ll be an issue.” She shook her head, a faraway, fascinated gleam in her eye. “He has amazing control…If it looks like there’s going to be a problem, then come back home.”
“Wouldn’t it just be easier to stay home in the first place? Avoid trouble?”
She backed away a step and folded her arms. “Wouldn’t it have just been easier to study for the history exam?”
Klaire leaves the office before Jessie, who puts off their moment of departure by going through their paperwork, looking for clues to what leads her mother was going to be following, since Klaire has made it clear that she doesn’t want her daughter actively involved in the case. A few pages in, though, she encounters a pink Post-It note with the following message on it: Stop stalling and go to school!
Seriously. Mother. Of. The. Year. If such an honor was voted on by other mothers, anyway. Teenagers would probably have another candidate.
Jus Accardo has created an interesting version of a paranormal world here, without getting readers bogged down in too much world-building detail. We’re thrown right into Jessie’s crazy world with her somewhat-skewed view of events, and not everything is minutely explained to us. (Apparently quartz has some key Otherworld butt-kicking capabilities. I am still not clear on why, but that’s okay. I trust that Jessie and her mom know what they’re doing. Mostly.) It’s 300+ pages of wise-cracking, sin-busting, demon wrangling fun. There’s chocolate. Hot guys. Zombies, demons, and Sins wrecking havoc across town.
And you all can read it too!
Next week. J
In the meantime, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to step foot in the faculty room at school again without thinking of Sloth….
In a nutshell: a highly entertaining YA paranormal from a new-to-me author who I’m definitely going to read again (though I might dig out my quartz bracelet first just to be on the safe side). A solid B+ rating.
On Twitter: JusAccardo
Darker Days is available for preorder: