Dark Descendant (Descendants #1)

Dark DescendantBy Jenna Black

Publication Date: April 11, 2011
Publisher: Pocket
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher

Nikki Glass can track down any man. But when her latest client turns out to be a true descendant of Hades, Nikki now discovers she can’t die. . . .

Crazy as it sounds, Nikki’s manhunting skills are literally god-given. She’s a living, breathing descendant of Artemis who has stepped right into a trap set by the children of the gods. Nikki’s new “friends” include a descendant of Eros, who uses sex as a weapon; a descendant of Loki, whose tricks are no laughing matter; and a half-mad descendant of Kali who thinks she’s a spy.

But most powerful of all are the Olympians, a rival clan of immortals seeking to destroy all Descendants who refuse to bow down to them. In the eternal battle of good god/bad god, Nikki would make a divine weapon. But if they think she’ll surrender without a fight, the gods must be crazy. . . .

Goodreads Summary

It all started simply enough when P.I. Nikki Glass’ client Emmitt Cartwright called her to meet him at the headquarters of the cult he believed was holding his girlfriend Maggie.  He’d hired Nikki to locate her and she had, but now he said Maggie had contacted him and wanted out and for some reason he wanted Nikki there to “witness” it in case things went wrong.  Things went very wrong when she hit and killed Emmitt with her car inside the compound and from wrong to very, very bad when the welcoming committee assumed she meant to murder him.

Injured and threatened, Nikki finds out that she’s a Descendant of the goddess Artemis and the “cult” Maggie is a part of is really a group of other immortal Descendants called the Liberi.  Emmitt was one of them and when Nikki killed him, she “stole” his immortality for herself, earning the particular hatred of his close friend Jamaal.  No one believes her when she swears Emmitt’s death wasn’t her fault and not willing to wait around and be executed, Nikki escapes only to be found by a second, more sinister group of Descendants called the Olympians.

With her particular goddess talent of being able to hunt, the Olympians want her to chase down stray Descendants to face punishment and they’re willing to twist Nikki’s arm hard to get her to do their dirty work.  The Liberi also want Nikki to find something, but they don’t trust her and every minute she spends with them she’ll need to watch her back because at least one of them has warned her that she’s a dead woman if they find out she hasn’t been honest with them.

This isn’t the most complex gods and goddesses/mythology-based book I’ve read this year and yet it’s the best, in some part because of it.  I loved that there weren’t big pockets of infodump and that each Descendant’s power was straightforward and related to their god or goddess.  It was refreshing that when Nikki became immortal, it didn’t come with the Artemis instruction manual.  The setup of the two groups is also pretty clear and the reasons they don’t get along are spelled out.  The Liberi may be the good guys but they’re not sunshine and light.  Their leader Anderson is an enigma.  No one knows exactly what he is, but he’s powerful and uses a strong, intimidating hand to rule the house.  Jamaal’s a Descendant of Kali, a god of Death, and he’d love to see Nikki dead for what happened to Emmitt.

There were so many things I liked about Nikki in addition to her not being insta-supergirl.  She wasn’t as much of a smart ass as a lot of UF heroines but she stayed wonderfully suspicious of everyone who wouldn’t trust her even if she felt a twinge of conscience when she had to hurt them.  I usually feel pretty let down if there’s no romance of any kind for my heroine in a book, but I was okay that there wasn’t any here.  She had a little bit of a connection with the cranky Jamaal that might go somewhere eventually but I also thought she had something twitchy happening with Anderson.  In either case I would have thought it weird if anything had happened considering how much distrust there was in the story.

There was one part of the story that might have dragged the rating down if it had taken up even slightly more space than it did.  Nikki was adopted by the Glass family and has an older sister, Steph.  Steph is the quintessential princess, rich and blonde, bubbly and attracts men like flies to honey, everything Nikki would be jealous of if only she weren’t such a gosh golly darn sweet woman with a heart of gold.  Of course the Olympians want to use her as leverage to get Nikki to work for them and when Anderson puts protection on Steph, it ends up being Blake, the Descendant of Eros and of course, Steph and Blake have insta-google eyes for each other, the twu wuv kind.  There are more spoilery things that happen that kept my sweet tooth from falling out entirely, but that really was more than enough.

My Summary: I was very happy to have picked this up even though I was a little leery because of the mythology theme that I’d been burned by lately.  It’s a pretty straightforward take with a fairly no-frills heroine and doesn’t require a flow chart and a clothesline to suspend your belief.  There’s enough violence to remind you that you’re not reading YA, and some of it’s pretty gruesome – a beheading and a stiletto in the eye are just two examples – and the action picks up midway through the book and keeps up a quick pace to the end.  Things wrap up nicely – there’s no cliffhanger for anyone who wants to read this as a standalone but there are a few unanswered questions to be carried over into the next story.  The second book in the series, Deadly Descendant, is scheduled for release in March of 2012 and I hope the series extends past that.

My Rating: A-

Barbara

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Comments

  1. OMG! Why did I not know about this book! I have got to go get this like NOW. Thanks for the review.

  2. Hi Rie! It was a really good book, I was so glad I decided to read it after a pile of stinkers, lol. It had to be good if I really liked it when I was a.) in a bad reading mood and b.) satisfied with no romance.:D

  3. Great review! I have this in my TBR pile and will hopefully get to it soon!

  4. Hi Kelsey! Thank you so much. 🙂 I know what towering TBR piles are, this took me a while to get to too, lol. I think it was worth it!

  5. Stiletto in the eye? That sounds brutal and unique. I hadn't read of this book, but I think it needs to go on my wishlist right away.

  6. Hi Sarah! It's a weird scene, that's for sure. Not funny ha-ha, but funny in a bizarre surreal sense. Thanks for adding it to your GR wishlist!

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