The world of Sunset (Pact Arcanum book 1) has an interesting premise. The world is our current Earth, but humanity co-exists with human appearing magical races – the Sentinels, the Nightwalkers, and the Daywalkers. Sentinels have magic and steel and are trained to kill vampires (the Nightwalkers); Nightwalkers are Vampires (with all that entails. Daywalkers are Vampires that now have a soul and have been reborn to redeem.
Being in the presence of a Sentinel can activate the innate magical potential an individual possesses. This is what happens when Jeremy Harkness is working as a part of Medusa. His abilities are activated by accident which forces Daywalker Nick Jameson (someone who isn’t fond of the rules anyway) to break their Pact’s general laws and reveal himself to the world in the midst of the Medusa terrorist incident. Deactivating the nuke doesn’t take too long and Nick uses Jeremy’s activation to convince the laws of the Pact to get out of having himself punished. Fortunately, Nick knows the person who is going to be judging him pretty well and makes his case, thus preserving him for future pages.
From there, we learn more about the world as it evolves with the knowledge of magic. We also find out what has occurred in the history of the pact and how magic works within the world and the various forces of the races. There is a lot of history to the world (that happens when some of your characters are over 500 years old) and explanations for how we got to where we are flow freely. The world building is interesting and some of the concepts are neat, if a bit overdone. The history is interesting enough, but it does start to drag on the story.
The other major drag, unfortunately, are the characters. None of them are particularly deep. Most of the characters are likeable enough, but they are too perfect. Nick gets away with consistently flaunting the rules and *almost* breaking the laws of his Pact; nothing happens. Even when he breaks their most sacred rule and reveals the presence of magic to the world, he gets a slap on the wrist and a ‘well, you were technically saving a citizen of our group and that makes it O.K’ sort of speech. The other main characters do similar things with similar consequences. This makes no sense with the aura of mystery and concealment that the author speaks of that the groups are trying to maintain.
The other major problem with the characters is their relationships. The relationships are unrealistic and either A) fantasized heavily or B) overtly unimportant. There is a warning on the Amazon page for the novel that the series contains references to homosexual relationships – O.K. , whatever. It’s not the first one that I have read, nor will it be the last. Unfortunately, it is one of the worst written relationships that I have read. Nick cannot fail in maintaining his threesome. He faces few choices that could consequence the relationship, and the few times where those choices would have mattered, they are blown off from the other characters. This is similar to the above issues with the law system – there are no significant consequences for poor decisions. The characters do not act like real people involved in real relationships in the slightest, and the drama of the scenes where ‘bad things’ happen is so over played, I skipped them until the next scene. Since there was little, if any, impact from said conversations this did not hurt my understanding of the novel in the slightest.
In short, the world of Pact Arcanum has a lot of potential to it, but the characters drag it so far down that I doubt I will invest in the next book in the series.
Value: 2/5 (At Free)
Total rating: 2/5