Nightfall - Ellen Connor Nightfall—A Dark Age Dawning Novel by Ellen Connor
I have to say I’m not usually one for post-apocalyptic storylines…it tends to severely cut into the happy ending potential of a story arc. It was then with a hint of surprise that I found this book such an engaging read. Whether it was the fact that we tune in during the “end of the world as we know it” phase in this book instead of after it all goes to hell in a hand basket, or just the widening of my personal reading purview is hard to say. I can say however, that Nightfall, book one in The Dark Age Dawning Trilogy, managed to pull me through a rapidly disintegrating world that built my interest in both characters and setting alike; the world inside these pages might indeed have been crumbling but my interest was far from falling apart.
We open this makeshift masterpiece with a quick history lesson; Eastern Europe and the Eastern United States are in blackout. No communications and an atmosphere rife with speculations about everything from nuclear reactor meltdowns to the rapture. The West New United Stated tried the ostrich approach to coping, to predictable results. It comes as no surprise then (especially to those who have read the back cover) that when we meet out protagonist, Jenna, she is in the midst of getting kidnapped by our reluctant hero, Mason. His avowed goal is to save her from the coming magical apocalyptic, the repayment of a promise made to her late father who had predicted the coming catastrophe. Jenna is less than thrilled with the situation; until the truth of the changing world hunts her through the woods. When disbelieving fails her she is forced to face the truth and make the best of the situation, however when other survivors land on their doorstep she makes the decision to let them into the haven her captor-turned-savior has made, and the course of the future finds itself in flux. To say Mason was against this choice would be too simplistic; he wanted to survive, and with a soldier’s training saw the extra bodies as liabilities. Tension is bound to erupt, and thus our motley crew was mostly assembled.
Ms. Connor pulls off an impressive balancing act in this book by creating relatable characters that we get to know and like but not shying away from the fact that with chaos threatening there are going to be causalities; not everyone survives a re-ordering of the world. I felt the almost inevitability of loss as our story progressed; at least one of the characters that ends up not making it I had gotten to know and like, but I don’t know that it ripped my heart out. By shifting the viewpoint between Janna and Mason the tone of this work tempered between Mason’s military survival mode and Jenna’s compassionate humanism. To me the stand-out supporting character was Tru, the teenage goth who had to grow up in a hurry. I am thrilled that the third book in this trilogy has cast him as a protagonist and I have every intention of picking up both the second and third books in this series.
I may still not be big on apocalyptic settings, but Nightfall did prove to me that it is possible to have a book that faces the end of the world and still has a happy ending.