Also known as Eternal Rider, Darkest Night is the first in the Lords of the Underworld dark, dark, dark urban fantasy series about guards for the Greek gods whose pride was hurt when the gods chose Pandora to guard a box of demons.
As their punishment for releasing the demons from the dimOuniak (we know it as Pandora’s box), the gods have cursed the prideful warriors to an eternity of housing the demons they released (see The Characters paragraph below) with a few extras thrown in just for laughs…the gods’ laughs that is and “so the Lords of the Underworld were born”.
In Darkest Night, Ashlyn Darrow is in Budapest with the World Institute of Parapsychology to listen to conversations with/about demons. And in the streets of Budapest, Ashlyn has heard contradictory stories about the inhabitants of the castle…mostly that they are angels known for their not-so-secret donations to help the citizens of the city. She fully intends to reach the castle and its occupants to ask for help in blocking the voices she cannot escape or, even better, destroying her ability.
Unfortunately for Ashlyn, she doesn’t know that to enter the castle means death for humans. Fortunately for Ashlyn, it is her very humanity that will save her.
Each Lord is half man-half demon; neither can exist alone and each fights their other half. For thousands of years, they have fought their demons and each other. For hundreds of years, they have resided in a castle outside Budapest, each has his chores to contribute to their domestic and mental survival.
A falling-out some thousands of years ago broke them initial group of warriors into two. Those in the beginning of this story are in Budapest.
Maddox / Violence dies every night at midnight at Reyes’ hands after which Lucien takes him to Hell where he spends every night burning alive. He is responsible for repairs to the castle.
Torin / Disease has not been able to touch another living thing skin to skin. His responsibility is the juggling of stocks and bonds to keep them moneyed.
Lucien / Death’s chore is the collection of souls and taking care of all the paperwork.
Reyes / Pain is doomed to kill Maddox every night at midnight. Six precise strokes through Maddox’ stomach, exactly as Maddox’s demon had forced him to kill Pandora. His personal crisis is cutting himself to relieve his Pain demon. His task is to keep them supplied with weapons…for they did have enemies. And they could be killed.
Aeron / Wrath’s demon sometimes got away with him and rained vengeance down upon anyone he perceived as sinners.
Paris / Promiscuity must be seduce a new woman every time never revisiting an old lover; if he cannot find a new lover, he is reduced to “doing things…that left [him]…hunched over a toilet”. His task is to do the grocery shopping.
Hunters are humans who have been tracking and attempting to kill the Lords of the Underworld since the warriors first were cursed. Unable to control their demons, the Lords wreaked havoc upon the world and the Hunters were formed to save it.
Ashlyn Darrow is psychic. She hears every conversation that has ever occurred in the world in the history of mankind. She was given up by her overwhelmed parents when she was extremely young to the World Institute of Parapsychology .
Well, this makes the third of Showalter’s novels, which I’ve read. And, so far, she’s been fairly consistent. I’ve not been impressed.
In this story, Showalter depicts the Lords as haunted men in a bad situation. Showalter’s emphasis on the punishments wreaked on the men are absolutely brutal—I don’t know how Showalter managed to think these atrocities up!
Yes, they are trying to make the best of it and, obviously, the start of this series is intended as the start of the men finding peace with their soulmates. I do like that the Lords do what they can to make life easier for the people in Budapest and that their depredations amongst the populace are limited to those who are wicked.
Seems there were quite a few more demons in Pandora’s box than in any of the myths I’ve read…guess they had some good PR back in the day…
The title, The Darkest Night, obviously refers to Maddox’s ordeal of dying each night at midnight and suffering through the fires of Hell before returning to life during the day.