I received this book for free from Purchased in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
by J.R. Ward
Released: August 18th 2020
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood Prison Camp #1
“J.R. Ward is a beautiful writer and I love the ebb and flow of her work…It’s why I will continue to read Ward, even though the romance itself was a little mediocre.”
~ Under the Covers
Nyx has been looking for the glymera’s prison camp for 50 years. Ever since her sister got sent there for a crime she didn’t commit. But, either no one is talking, or no one knows, that is, until by pure chance she nearly runs over an escapee. Now, armed with the location of the prison, a bag full of ammo and her toothbrush, she is breaking into the prison and doesn’t intend to leave without her sister.
This book. This damn book. I feel very conflicted about it. The release of a J.R.Ward book is something I used to look forward to with unhealthy anticipation. I would book a few days off work to read it; I would load up with snacks and Kleenex to get me through the emotional ups and downs and I would be up until midnight making sure that the book downloaded on my kindle. Nowadays, I don’t get the i-can’t-wait-i-need-it-now rush of anticipation as the books she’s released in the past few years haven’t really done it for me.
So, The Jackal was a chance for a new start, set in the world that I do still love. Ward’s opportunity to get back to what made me fall in love with the original Brothers. Capture that magic again. As you may have guessed from the rating it didn’t quite do that for me. But, I am still conflicted as this book did something that alot of her books, even in the early days, didn’t do. She gave me heroine I Loved, with a capital L. But, let me delve more deeply into some of the points that stuck out for me:
This is a bugbear of mine. If a book is the first of a new series, spin off or not, then you shouldn’t have to read all the author’s other work to understand what is happening in it. Could you read The Jackal without reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series and still enjoy and get the full impact of the story. In my opinion: no. I am going to qualify that by saying that both the hero The Jackal and the heroine, Nyx, are brand new characters we haven’t met before. The issue is, is that it is set in a very well developed world that Ward has excellently fleshed out in the BDB series. In this book, lots of concepts and characters are thrown at the reader without explanation. For example, Nyx is given a dagger with a black blade by her grandfather something we all know is synonymous with the Brotherhood. Nyx is taken back by this, as a reader of BDB we know why, we know what the dagger signify’s, a new reader wouldn’t. Also concepts like the glymera, shellan, pre-trans and all these other aspects of vampire life are dropped without explanation. If, as a virgin to BDB I had read this, I would find this extremely off-putting, I would either be constantly having to refer to the glossary or I would DNF.
This is linked to my point above. Rhage’s story kind of entwines with this and at the beginning of the book we have snippets from the 1800-1900s from Rhage’s POV. Once again, if you haven’t read BDB having Rhage as the first chapter, a character you know is neither the hero or heroine is just strange. In fact, in the first 40% of the book, we barely see The Jackal, the hero of the story. And, now that I’ve read the book, I understand what Ward was doing, but it felt unnecessary. That connection to Rhage was not needed and if you took it out, no part of the story would have played out any differently. So, what was the point? It only served to really slow down the book with no actual pay off. And, it kills me to say this as Rhage is one of my favourite characters in BDB, I love seeing him on the page, but I felt like it really detracted from getting to know Nyx and The Jackal.
One of my consistent criticisms of this series is the heroines. For me, with the exceptions of Mary, Marissa and Xhex, all of the other heroines are entirely forgettable and even at times interchangeable. Bella, Beth, Ehlena, Layla, Payne…I like them all but I struggled just now to remember their names. So, I was absolutely delighted when Nyx came on page. Finally, a heroine I could fall in love with. She was strong and resourceful, resilient and smart. Maybe a little headstrong, but I kinda liked that too. I know, thus far in my review I’ve been fairly negative and honestly there’s one more negative point to go, but one of the things that kept me reading was Nyx. If you like a strong heroine, she’s your gal.
I am not a hater of insta love, sometimes it works really well especially in the paranormal romance genre where it’s often linked with fated mates. But, for me, I found the evolution of this romance disappointing. It was too fast, they had sex too early. Ward is fantastic at weaving longing and angst and soul deep connection. I know, I’ve read it, she’s made me cry over it, even in her latter books which are by no means my favourite she still weaves her magic. But, there was too much instant gratification, I wanted the build up the anticipation and then burst of passion. But it was sadly lacking in this book. It wasn’t terrible by all means, but I just expected so much more, this book just did not have the emotional impact I was craving.
J.R. Ward is a beautiful writer and I love the ebb and flow of her work. She isn’t afraid to use complex and original language and she has a way of saying things that can really nail down a situation or a feeling. She’s a master. This book is no different in that respect. It’s why I will continue to read Ward, even though the romance itself was a little mediocre. So, if you are already a Black Dagger Brotherhood fan, I would recommend reading this, if this is the first time you have encountered J.R. Ward, I would skip this one for now and start with Dark Lover, the first in the original BDB series.
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