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Night Keepers: The Final Prophecy Book 1    by Jessica Anderson order for
Night Keepers
by Jessica Anderson
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2008 (2008)
Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Basing her mythology on the Mayan culture - and on their Long Count Calendar that prophesies that civilization shall end on December 21, 2012 - Andersen has devised an incredibly complex and character rich world.

The story opens in 1987 during the Summer Solstice when the Earth's shields are at their weakest and where the current Night Keeper king, Scarred-Jaguar, risks everything in a daring attempt to prevent end-time from ever beginning. If his goal is achieved, mankind will be saved, and the Night Keepers and their winikin (humans who serve and teach all Night Keepers) would become obsolete and finally be allowed to lead normal lives after thousands of years of service. But the king's plan goes horribly wrong as Boluntiku demons boil through protective wards and slaughter all those in their path. Only a few infants and their winikin survive the horror. As ordered by their King if his plan should fail, they scatter to the four winds, keeping their identities secret.

Fast forward to present day Miami where Detective Leah Daniels is on the hunt for cult leader Zipacna who's responsible for the sacrificial death of her impressionable younger brother. When a meet with a snitch goes horribly wrong, she finds herself in the cult leader's clutches and about to be sacrificed as well. She survives the ordeal, but her memories of it are cloudy. The few snippets she does remember are filled with erotic imagery and visions of a dark warrior straight out of the pages of some dusty Mayan history text.

Striking Jaguar, or Strike as he'd rather be called, believes he is the last of the Night Keeper warrior priests. But as 2012 looms, his mentor Jox reveals that others survived the slaughter twenty-four years before. As Strike reunites and begins training his untried warriors, his own powers of translocation, spell casting, and summoning of Mayan gods are revealed. He also discovers that the woman of his dreams and visions is very real and meant to become the chosen sacrifice to reverse end-time. His advisors warn him repeatedly that a human has no part in their world or their struggles to stop the underworld demons. But Strike believes otherwise - he senses that he and Leah are fated to be together and follow a new path to reverse end-time. Will he choose love over duty, or will Leah's death on the sacrificial alter happen as has been foretold?

Readers who enjoy complex and extensive world building, equally rich characterizations and innovative plotting will rejoice over this new entry into paranormal romance. Anderson spends quite a number of chapters weaving her intricate world, introducing many of the characters relevant to this story and upcoming sequels, as well as creating a sizzling and intense romance between Strike and Leah. Nor does the author pull any punches in describing the bloody, violent and ritualistic practices of the Mayan culture, all of which she seamlessly blends into her Night Keeper mythology.

She also creates powerful characterizations, particularly her leads: Leah is strong-minded and independent and determined to bring down Zipacna and avenge her brother, all the while remaining open-minded to the role she is destined to fulfill. Strike meanwhile, goes through numerous emotional upheavals as he confronts his shadowy legacy and inevitably, the sacrifices he, and the woman he loves, must face to save mankind. Night Keepers: The Final Prophecy is an intense, fascinating and incredibly well conceived paranormal romance and a five star beginning to an innovative new series.

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