The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld #1) [Maddox & Ashlyn] - Gena Showalter

The Darkest Night - Gena Showalter

This one is going to be a loooong review and also will contain mild spoilers (which I'll "warn" about :))

First - I loved this book! I feel like it's been a while since my last PNR series, but actually it's only been a little more than 2 months from finishing the Midnight Breed series. It seems that no matter how much I enjoy reading "regular" romance books I always find myself missing a dab of supernatural in my reading. I yearn for those manly man creatures with inhuman strength and special abilities (and disabilities ;)) that simply doesn't exist in our world. 

Though I'm a HUGE fan for vampire related PNR this one is different. Vampires are mentioned in about a sentence (meaning they probably exist somewhere) but there is nothing on them and probably wouldn't be in the future. We have a group of 6 warriors, immortal warriors that each one share their existence with a demon inside of them. This demon makes it hard for them to manage a "normal life" so they choose to live together and stay off society. That's in a nutshell.. 

This novel tells the story of Maddox who shares his existence with the demon of Violence. Not a very "happy little demon" as you might imagine.. and also the gods (the Greek ones in case you were wondering) "gifted" him with a curse for killing a woman he shouldn't have. His curse is he must be stabbed at midnight each night 6 times - until his death - and then delivered to hell for the rest of the night to be burned there. Just from those details you can see that Maddox isn't really a relationship material kinda guy.. But nevertheless by the end of this book he and Ashlyn find their happy ending. 

Ashlyn always knew there are other creatures in this world - first because she has the unique ability to hear all conversation that has ever been made in a certain place and also because she works for an institute that research supernatural beings. She hears that on a hill near Budapest there are special beings, maybe even angels that she hopes might help her control her ability. She discovers first hand that the ones living up the hills are far from being angels but though she is being held there captive she learns that they are by no mean monsters. 

Maddox captures and holds Ashlyn against her will because he things she is "Bait". In the past Hunters - people determine to kill the Lords of the Underworld (he and his friends) - used women to lure them and kill them. But right from the start there is something about Ashlyn that makes him re-think the possibility of her being there other than to help herself. Surprisingly from the very second Ashlyn encounters Maddox she stops hearing the voices of the past making her long for his presence (doesn't that remind you of Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton in the Southern Vampire Series?).

You can guess what happens with Ashlyn and Maddox. Don't need no guessing here :) But what is interesting is all the changes that happen to Maddox and his relationship with his demon. 

We have the POV of Ashlyn and Maddox throughout the book but also other characters - the other Immortals and also a little bit by Danika - a woman who is captured (with 3 other members of her family) by the Immortals by the request of the Titans that as it seems threw out the Greek Gods. The warriors don't really know what to do with the women so they keep them captive for the meanwhile..


As you can see there is a lot going on in this book. A lot of "world" to be unraveled. But that's not the least of the things that happen. They also have Hunters on their back and also a "surprise from the past" -

Warriors hosting demons in them whom they left after a feud years and years ago.

(show spoiler)

Which keeps them "on their toes" since there is no trust with whom they have to work with now.


I loved this book and really looking forward to the next ones!! the only complaint I have for this book is there's just too many damn characters to follow! :D

Mind you, I've read "A song of Ice & Fire" and if you want to blame SOMEONE for creating too many characters - George R. R. Martin WOULD be the guy.. ;)  


Since this is the first book in the series (the novella before gives only a feel of the story - actually this book happens maybe even a thousand years after it..) there are simply a lot of details about this world and the characters with their special characteristics. It took me half the book to really get "who's who" you know? but then there were more to come and I was a little lost there for a while.


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This is the place to stop reading if you don't want to read any more possible spoilers. The spoilers aren't "huge" ones but if you want kinda "clean slate" I guess it would be best to stop here.

So thanks for being here and getting to this point! Farewell now :)


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OK. So in the beginning we are introduced with Maddox and the rest of the gang - 6 warriors in total. As you understand each one is not only a character in itself but also contain a demon which makes them kinda like "double characters" you have to remember which is which and "what's his deal".


By the middle of the book I was kinda feeling I got the hang of it and felt I was "on it" you know? THEN dear miss Gena introduces us with 6 more.. yeah, 6 new warriors each with his/her demon, appearance, special behavior etc.. I just thought to myself - REALLY?! that's how it's going to be now? So I get that she needed those guys, but it was a little too much for me for the first book in the series. Too many characters. too many features in a completely new world that she'd built. I think that I'm totally OK with the Budapest guys, but the new ones? I'm not really sure I remember who's who without clues ;) 


So basically it's really not THAT bad it's just I think that if I'd read this one in a longer period of time I would have gotten totally lost. But since I'm an obsessive reader anyway.. honestly, I feel like I just got sucked into this world and there is nothing to be done about it but keep reading more! :) I feel intrigued by each of the characters and really want to read more about them!


But since I complained, I made myself a nice solution! I found the "Classified Files" containing all the details on all the guys! YAY! :)


They can be found on the "Into the Dark" Novel - containing the pre-novella "The Darkest Fire" (LotU #0.5) and "The Darkest Prison" (LotU #3.5) novella but also more cool staff like Q&A, behind the scenes etc. Later on Gena published just the Companion part (without the novellas) in a book called "Darkest Facts" (so you don't need this one if you have the other..).


Since I don't want to spoiler (more than I already have) I'll hide the information that might contain spoilers. The book containing this data was published just before the 5th book (meaning we had those guys story already - #1 Maddox, 2# Lucien, #3 Reyes, #4 Sabin) so MOST spoilers will naturally be of these guys, BUT surely some information about the other characters will be revealed during those books so I'm saying - thread with care! :)


I'll be adding this data to all my further reviews of this series.






Maddox / Violence (Book #1)
Height: 6'4'' 
Hair: Black 
Eyes: Violet (Note: eyes glow red when angry) 
Butterfly tattoo: Upper left shoulder, wrapping around to his back 
Other distinguishing marks: Demon’s skeletal face becomes visible through subject’s skin when subject is angered. 
Preferred weapon: Fists

Demon culpability: The stabbing death of Pandora, and thereby the disappearance of her box, can be traced directly to Violence. In modern society Violence is deemed responsible for street-gang warfare, rape, murder and terrorism.
Notable background: Curse resulting from Pandora’s slaying caused the subject to be killed each night and resurrected each day for centuries. Curse has now been broken—methods unclear. Subject still erupts into fits of violence and should be presumed volatile and highly dangerous.
Achilles heel: Recent emotional attachment to human female Ashlyn Darrow, former para-audiologist for the World Institute of Parapsychology who now resides at Budapest fortress. I cannot help but believe that if her mentor, the late Dr. Frederick McIntosh, hadn’t hidden from her the true purpose of her work at the Institute, Darrow would not have defected to the Lords’ camp. Note: Darrow is believed pregnant with subject’s child. Due date to be determined. 
Objectives: Capture Ashlyn Darrow if possible, use her as bait for subject to rescue, capture subject and imprison him until such time as Pandora’s box is found. Note: Beware Darrow’s ability to stand in one place and hear every conversation that ever took place there. Utter silence will be needed for any recon or capture missions. The element of surprise is crucial.

(show spoiler)


Lucien / Death (Leader of Budapest Contingent) (Book 2)

Height: 6'6'' 
Hair: Black, shoulder-length
Eyes: Mismatched—one brown (normal eye) and one blue (believed to allow subject to see into the spiritual world) 
Butterfly tattoo: Upper left shoulder, front of chest 
Other distinguishing marks: Face and body are covered in scars. Subject emits an odor of roses presumed to be linked to his demon. 
Preferred weapon: Knives. Beware poisoned tips.

Demon culpability: Death is ultimately responsible for deciding which souls ascend to heaven and which are ushered to Hell. It’s believed that the subject uses his bias against the Hunters not only to kill their bodies, but to unfairly ensure that their souls never make it to heaven. 
Notable background: Subject is believed to have disfigured his own face and body centuries ago in a fit of rage, indicating an unstable temperament and a harmful nature. Subject can travel outside his body and has been known to transport himself from one location to the next faster than the eye can see, making him a unique threat. 
Achilles heel: Two of note. The first, when subject’s…soul, if that’s what it is, leaves his body, that body is left vulnerable. That might be the perfect time to strike. Second, subject seems to have grown attached to Anya, minor Greek goddess of Anarchy. Also noteworthy: Anya is believed to have been bound by a curse herself, possibly hampering her powers. Recon team to investigate further in the hopes of exploiting the knowledge for the greater good. 
Objectives: Take a divide-and-conquer approach by separating subject from the minor goddess of Anarchy so subject will suffer. If we can kill the goddess, forcing Death to separate soul from body, he will be most vulnerable. Note: The minor goddess has a penchant for petty theft, incendiary behavior and general insubordination. Following a recent confrontation in Chicago, she has been deemed a nemesis of the angel Galen and thus her permanent capture is of particular interest to the Hunters.

(show spoiler)


Reyes / Pain (Book #3)
Height: 6'5'' 
Hair: Dark brown
Eyes: Brown Butterfly tattoo: Chest and neck 
Other distinguishing marks: Deeply tanned skin; frequently sports scars caused by self-mutilation Preferred 
weapon: Daggers; sword; guns

Demon culpability: Physical pain and suffering throughout the ages are attributed to this demon’s acts of random cruelty. 
Notable background: Subject has been witnessed going to excruciating lengths to cause himself pain. Jumping off rooftops and cutting his flesh are among his pastimes.
Achilles heel: Subject formed an attachment to human female Danika Ford following her kidnapping at the hands of fellow Lord Aeron. I personally did my utmost to recruit Danika to our cause, even convincing her to stage her own (second) kidnapping so the demons would rescue her and unwittingly bring a spy into their midst. The woman showed tremendous potential but was ultimately seduced by the dark side and aligned her loyalties with the Lords. I count her defection as a personal failure. 
Objectives: Separate subject from Danika. Imprison him until Pandora’s box can be found. Demonstrate to Danika the consequences of choosing the wrong allegiance in battle.

(show spoiler)


Paris / Promiscuity (Book #9)
Height: 6'8'' 
Hair: Varying shades of brown and black 
Eyes: Blue 
Butterfly tattoo: Lower back 
Other distinguishing marks: Subject is widely regarded as the most physically appealing of all the Lords. 
Preferred weapon: Sword

Demon culpability: Out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and infidelity all can be laid at Promiscuity’s doorstep. 
Notable background: Subject weakens without frequent physical release and cannot have sexual relations with the same woman twice. Subject has been known to seek out male partners as a last resort if no women are available, though he does not appear to enjoy such forays.
Achilles heel: While imprisoned in Hunters’ research facility in Athens, subject formed a fascinating bond with the late female Hunter Sienna Blackstone (R.I.P.) and managed to overcome his demon’s aversion to repeated sexual contact with the same woman. Since his untimely escape to Budapest, he has been reported to be relying heavily on ambrosia to regulate his moods and get him through the day.
Objectives: Exploit subject’s dependence on ambrosia if possible. Perhaps even arrange for him to receive a tainted batch. Dangle the promise of information about Sienna in order to lure him back to Athens facility for further testing.

(show spoiler)


Aeron / Wrath (Book #5)
Height: 6'6'' 
Hair: Military-cropped, brown
Eyes: Violet 
Butterfly tattoo: Middle of back 
Other distinguishing marks: A pair of black gossamer wings hidden by slits in his back when not in use. Face and body are covered with tattoos of war scenes, weaponry and the demon’s victims. Two eyebrow rings. 
Preferred weapon: Subject does not discriminate and embraces any weapon at his disposal.

Demon culpability: Wrath ostensibly preys only on victims it considers deserving of punishment. However, this pretense of meting out “justice” is clearly the demon’s twisted attempt to rationalize its killing sprees and evil deeds so it can continue to cause harm without consequences.
Notable background: Subject was taken over by bloodlust due to a curse of unknown origins and nearly killed human female Danika Ford in addition to her maternal grandmother, mother and older sister. Though the bloodlust seems to have passed, subject continues to be considered a menace to society.
Achilles heel: Subject views himself as godlike and humans as fragile and beneath him; however, his current determination to repay his fellow demon Paris for deeds unknown might prove a weak spot to be exploited. Subject is also devoted to the female demon minion Legion and has sworn to protect her from harm. Additionally, subject appears to be having apparent hallucinations that an invisible presence is spying on him. 
Objective: Use subject’s devotion to fellow Lords and the minion Legion against him. Recon team is also determining ways to turn his hallucinations to the Hunters’ advantage.

(show spoiler)


Torin / Disease (Book #11)
Height: 6'5'' 
Hair: White, shoulder-length
Eyes: Green 
Butterfly tattoo: Stomach 
Other distinguishing marks: Always wears long black gloves Preferred weapon: As subject is confined to the Budapest fortress he has dubbed “the House of the Damned,” he does not generally use weapons but is believed to have gun and sword training.

Demon culpability: Disease is responsible for at least two known plagues that resulted in thousands of casualties. This demon is also at the root of cancer deaths and all additional pestilence, most recently the dreaded Swine Flu pandemic. Notable background: Subject is unable to touch another living being skin-to-skin without infecting it with disease; subject wears protective clothing at all times and maintains his distance from others to prevent such an occurrence. Subject chooses to hide in the Lords’ fortress rather than accept the public blame he deserves for the illnesses he continues to cause, despite his “attempts” to keep the world “safe.”
Achilles heel: Subject’s battle skills have likely diminished due to his confinement. He could be the weak link of the Lords and vulnerable to capture. A suspected relationship with female Lord Cameo has distracted the subject, and could also be used to Hunters’ advantage. 
Objectives: Exploit the subject’s unique vulnerabilities and use this weakest link to take down the rest of the Lords. If we could somehow arrange for subject to touch the other Lords, they would not be killed, but they would never again be able to touch their loved ones without killing them. Such a realization might just cause them to turn themselves in.

(show spoiler)




Sabin / Doubt (Leader of Greece Contingent) (Book #4) 
Height: 6'7'' 
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Gold-brown 
Butterfly tattoo: Right ribcage and waist 
Other distinguishing marks: Wears a necklace believed to be a gift to him from his deceased friend, Baden, demon of Distrust, the Hunters’ first victim. 
Preferred weapon: Subject used to rely on knives, guns, throwing stars et al, but now, like the coward he is, he prefers to hide behind his Harpy bride for protection.

Demon culpability: The vilest of all demons whispers insecurities into the ears of anyone within reach and causes crippling, at times life-threatening self-doubt. This demon and the despicable creature who houses it are directly responsible for the suicide of my beloved wife, Darla, eleven years ago. 
Notable background: I find it impossible to write objectively about my most deeply hated foe. This monster who calls himself a man seduced my faithful wife away from me with false promises and dirty lies and coaxed her to betray my secrets. When he’d gotten what he needed from her, he let his demon go to work, and the next thing I knew, my wife had slashed her wrists.
Achilles Heel: His single-minded devotion to Gwendolyn the Timid, his Harpy wife. Due to recent complications at our Chicago training facility, we are uncertain as to the extent to which we might be able to use her against him. But sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. 
Objectives: Secretly, without Galen’s knowledge, separate subject from his wife. Seduce her, as subject likes to seduce other men’s wives, and arrange for subject to find her dead, bleeding body.

(show spoiler)


Gideon / Lies (Book #6)
Height: 6'3'' 
Hair: Dyed Blue 
Eyes: Blue, kohl-rimmed 
Butterfly tattoo: Right thigh 
Other distinguishing marks: Multiple piercings and general Goth appearance Preferred weapon: All of them. Subject seems to have no specific preference, using whatever is nearby.

Demon culpability: Lies has infiltrated politics worldwide, resulting in false promises from world leaders and the disintegration of modern society. 
Notable background: Subject is unable to tell the truth without experiencing terrible pain. My forefathers were able to capture and contain subject for a prolonged period of time and, in the course of limb-regeneration experiments, removed subject’s feet. Unfortunately, subject ultimately escaped with the aid of his demon cohorts and both his feet have since grown back. The feet we removed, however, we are still in possession of. We exacted revenge in Chicago recently with the removal of both subject’s hands, but again were unable to contain him for long. We now have the removed hands, as well.
Achilles heel: Unknown. It is impossible to learn anything of use from this disgusting liar. 
Objective: Capture this demon once and for all and rid the world of his offensive presence. Also, continue with experiments of the removed limbs, using them to hopefully create our own immortal warrior.

(show spoiler)


Cameo / Misery (What about her? :( )
Height: 5'7'' 
Hair: Long, black 
Eyes: Silver 
Butterfly tattoo: Lower back, wings spreading around to both hips 
Other distinguishing marks: Her voice is enough to make you want to kill yourself. Earplugs are needed when around her. 
Preferred weapon: Semi-automatic, long-range rifles

Demon culpability: Misery is responsible for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The fact that both are reported at higher rates today than ever before suggests that the demon’s reach is increasing.
Notable background: Subject causes profound emotional anguish in everyone around her. Additionally, subject was, until recently, believed to be the lone female Lord of the Underworld. New events suggest that additional female Lords might in fact exist.
Achilles heel: Subject is believed to have a relationship with Torin, keeper of Disease. Subject will be closely observed for any physical or emotional vulnerability that might pave the way for an opportunity to capture her. But because of the supposed relationship with Disease, protective gear will be needed when apprehending her.
Objectives: Recon team is exploring ways to force subject to use her voice to our advantage.

(show spoiler)


Amun / Secrets (Book #7)
Height: 6'6'' 
Hair: Brown 
Eyes: Brown 
Butterfly tattoo: Right calf 
Other distinguishing marks: Dark skin 
Preferred weapon: Things of an exotic nature.

Demon culpability: The demon of Secrets fosters a lack of communication that contributes to individual issues such as the breakdown of marriages and global problems such as breaches of national security and the inability to achieve world peace. 
Notable background: Subject is unable to speak without the secrets of the world pouring out of his mouth—as I regrettably experienced first-hand at our Chicago facility. Also of note, when he speaks, you hear the voice of the person whose secret he is revealing.
Achilles heel: Subject’s fear of speaking might be utilized to our advantage.
Objectives: Capture and interrogate subject in the hopes of discerning the secrets he keeps and using them against the Lords.

(show spoiler)


Strider / Defeat (Book #8)
Height: 6'5'' 
Hair: Blond Eyes: Blue 
Butterfly tattoo: Left hip 
Other distinguishing marks: Subject was created, not born, yet has a birthmark on the right side of his buttocks. Small, brown and jagged at the edges.
Preferred weapon: Subject embraces all weaponry.

Demon culpability: The demon of Defeat is determined to win at all costs and will do whatever it takes to ensure victory. Defeat has brought about the downfall of athletes worldwide due to its encouragement of illegal tactics like steroids to obtain a win. 
Notable background: Subject cannot lose an argument or battle without succumbing to intense physical agony and prolonged sleep.
Achilles heel: Subject’s inability to lose gracefully. 
Objectives: Issue a challenge the demon cannot refuse, one that leads him straight into a trap.

(show spoiler)


Kane / Disaster (Book #10) 
Height: 6'4'' 
Hair: Mixture of brown, black and gold 
Eyes: Hazel 
Butterfly tattoo: Right hip 
Other distinguishing marks: We are still searching. 
Preferred weapon: Rifles and other long-range weaponry

Demon culpability: Disaster can be held accountable for everything from traffic accidents to construction site fatalities to plane crashes. It is harmful, often lethal, to anyone and anything it comes into contact with. 
Notable background: Subject is unable to move without causing ceilings to collapse, vehicles to explode and other assorted catastrophes to occur. Miraculously and despicably, subject seems to escape injury from such incidents, but those around him are less fortunate.
Achilles heel: Unknown 
Objectives: Recon team is exploring ways to isolate and capture subject and channel the incidents he causes into a strategy that will be advantageous to us.

(show spoiler)