Book Review: When Dark Falls, by Pippa Jay

whendarkfalls_1650x2550Kadie is a young woman trapped in the city of Nephopolis, where “morning comes in flame and darkness.” Although she has tantalizing clues, she has no memory of her life before. Now, she slaves for meager rations under the tyranny of the man known as Dark, whose cloudburners toil daily to blot out the sun. Only the occasional distant kindness of her manager, Jev, leavens her endless labor, and Kadie is drawn to him. But it’s too dangerous to act on her feelings, as the slightest infraction could mean a death sentence; or worse, the slow and painful metamorphosis into the monstrous nightcrawlers who enforce Dark’s will. Kadie remembers Dark didn’t always rule. The superheroes of her time had died trying to oppose him, even Blaze, the greatest among them. But Dark’s costly victory had left him permanently scarred.

Nocturnelle is a rogue superhero, her past a mystery even to herself. Her considerable powers earn her a wary acceptance among the few low-talent survivors of the Alliance of Super Heroes and Heroines. Nelle’s cybernetically enhanced sidekick, Shadow, is the only minor hero who is willing to trust her. But he draws the line at exploring their mutual attraction, insisting a deeper relationship would violate league rules, making them both outcasts. Neither are willing to risk their partnership with ASHH when there’s important work to be done. Together, they slip into the night to gather intelligence and battle the tyrant’s thugs and his eerie nightcrawlers. Nelle has one goal: to defeat Dark or die trying.

Nelle doesn’t realize that Dark is moving swiftly to fulfill her death wish, and that Kadie holds the key to her mortal weakness.

‘Punk of any kind is usually not my genre, because authors too often get so caught up in the gadgetry that they shortchange the characters.

Pippa Jay is not one of those authors. The technology of her world is deftly–even beautifully–described, vividly calling up the scene without the eye-crossing detail that causes me to flip ahead, looking for the story. Instead, the decopunk blends seamlessly into, and supports, the story. And the characters and fast-paced action caught me up and drew me into a toxic world where love is a risky endeavor for good people and heroes alike.

Pippa’s characters have depth. Alone, afraid, barely subsisting, Kadie could easily have been a wilting flower. But her courage in facing her fear and the daily grind comes through. Nocturnelle could have been simply a kick-ass superhero. But we get to see the doubts and insecurities behind her driven determination.

In shorter books, something has to give. But here, not so much. In addition to sympathetic characters and strong world-building, Pippa delivered a plot with plenty of action, with only one minor challenge to my willing suspension of disbelief. The force of the story rolled right over it.

This is a book I would’ve swallowed in one sitting. But I made the mistake of starting When Dark Falls right before I had to leave for a friend’s party. I spent a lot of time wondering how the story would turn out. I would suggest you make sure you’ve got a sufficient chunk of time, then get yourself a cup of tea, or pour a glass of wine, and settle in for a good read. Then, why four stars, you ask? My star ratings are on a logarithmic scale. Check out my ratings on goodreads, and you’ll see even my long-time favorite authors don’t always achieve five stars. For me, three stars means, the book was good. Four stars means, the book was excellent, and I’ll look for this author. I think you will, too.

40k; 2/5 heat level. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Welcome Guest Author…Pippa Jay!

I’m pleased to welcome Pippa Jay to the Scotian Realm. Pippa is an award-winning author, writing in multiple genres, including science fiction, paranormal, and decopunk…often with a dash of romance. She also writes about superheroes, and I sometimes think she is one herself as a multi-tasker par excellence. She’s here to talk about her newest release, When Dark Falls. (Come back on Wednesday, December 10th for my review of a great read!)

First, let’s meet Pippa…

What three words would your friends use to describe you?
Annoying, weird, and enthusiastic. Although I mostly get the first two from my children.

Do you have a personal credo or motto that helps to guide your decisions?
From the film Galaxy Quest: “Never give up, never surrender!”

What’s on your bucket list? 
There’s several places I’d like to travel to, mostly because I either have old friends there, or new friends I’ve met since I joined Facebook. But I’m still amazed I’m a published author, which I never dreamed of ever being, so even if I never did anything else exciting in my life I have that.

Do real people, places &/or events show up in your writing?|
They have, but perhaps not in ways people might recognize. I think authors as a whole take in lots of details and information in their everyday life, and it’s inevitable that some of it will end up in their work, even subconsciously. I’ve used days at the nearby beach as inspiration for a tropical planet, a feature in my home town as part of a space station, personal experiences for things that happen to my characters, etc.

Does someone critique your writing for you? How do they affect your writing?
I now have a wide group of fellow authors or enthusiastic readers who will critique my work. Different stories go to different people depending on who has the time and what the story is, and most have their own particular way of giving feedback. It helps me spot plot holes or inconsistencies, where I’ve gone overboard on detail or repetition, or where I need to do more. As I’ve grown more confident, I’m less likely to take some of the advice if it’s just come from one person or I feel I have a valid argument for leaving something as it is, but I’ve also gotten better at taking criticism and using it constructively. I’d like to think it makes my writing better.

In your opinion, what qualities make for a great author?
Determination, passion, enthusiasm, the ability to pick things up quickly, and a willingness to research, learn, experiment, and take criticism.

And now for the book! When Dark Falls is an alternative 1920s decopunk superhero romance released by Breathless Press on the 21st November. I’ll have a review on Wednesday, December 10th. But here’s a teaser….


In a city where Dark Technologies Inc. now runs the show, Kadie Williams has more immediate concerns than the fall of Blaze, their guardian superhero. Almost every morning for the last few months she’s woken up with cuts and bruises on her body, and no idea how she got them. There are no nightmares. No evidence that she sleepwalks, or any sign of a break in. And nothing to tell her who’s been cleaning up after her. As just one of thousands of civilians conscripted to slave away in the labs of Professor Dark, she knew there’d be trouble ahead. But she never expected it to be so bad, or so personal.

Desperate for answers, Kadie looks to the new defender of the night, the only person who can hinder the total domination of Professor Dark—Nocturnelle. The mysterious vigilante superhero came from nowhere with her cybernetic sidekick Shadow, set on putting an end to the brutality of Dark’s regime. But as his laboratories work on a new secret super-weapon, Nocturnelle and Shadow may not be enough to save Nephopolis…or to save Kadie either.

Describe the hero in three words: Loyal. Caring. Sad
And the heroine? Fiery. Unstable. Driven.
What two words best sum up their relationship? Rollercoaster ride!

Please give us an excerpt!

Nocturnelle perched on the carved griffin statue decorating the tower’s cornerstone, with hundreds of feet of empty space between her and the ground below. Her second skin felt tight. It was a familiar sensation and yet always the first thing she noticed on waking, as if her body needed to remind her of the fact. She stretched and her outer skin crackled like leather. She flexed her fingers, the delicate oh-so-white digits a stark contrast to her black arms. Silver lines marked her left forearm, and she frowned at them. She was meant to be impervious to blades and bullets, and yet somehow, not too long ago, she must have injured herself.

As she rose, her skin creaked. She stretched again, and then tugged her hands through her hair, pulling the thick swathe of black silk from her face and knotting it at the back. Darkest Night forbid it should get in her way. The second skin pressed tight against her forehead, running around her eyes and mouth, cradling her chin. She ran her fingers around the edges, tracing the outline. Perfect. Her body tingled as though electricity danced in her veins, and she smiled. Breathed in the evening air. This was her time.
Viscous and reeking, the night sky hung over the city of Art Deco towers and buildings like an oil-slick. Behind her, the metallic chinking of the cloudburner cooling after a day spent scorching the sky ticked away the seconds like a clock.


The deep male voice sent a shiver down her back, and she turned. “Ah, my faithful Shadow. Ready for another night-time jaunt?”

A figure stepped out of the shadows to join her. He matched her for height; his whipcord frame clad in a charcoal-colored armor vest, black combats, and a hip-length military jacket. When the rooftop lights hit his face, the chiseled jawline showed; his skin a dark tan. He wore a mask over his eyes, but his teeth gleamed white when he smiled. And when he smiled, something inside Nelle set her heart racing.

“Ready and set, Nelle.”

Thank you! Where can my readers find you?

Website –

Add When Dark Falls to your goodreads shelf. Sign up for Pippa’s no-spam newsletter to stay up to date with releases, cover reveals, sales and giveaways for all her titles and more.

Where can my readers find your books?

Amazon page
Omnilit/All Romance eBooks
Barnes and Noble

And now…the contest!

Contest open internationally until the 19th December

WP_20141125_007By day, Pippa Jay is a dedicated (and “mild-mannered”?) member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place). But who is she behind the mask…? Pippa wants your help:

“I’ve donned my superhero guise for the length of the tour, and you get to name me and decide my talent(s)! If I like it, I may include it in the sequel to When Dark Falls and credit you in the acknowledgements.

“To enter, please put the name, talent, and your contact details in the comments. Please note – by entering this contest you are giving me full permission for me to use the superhero name without any recompense to you, financially or otherwise, other than the acknowledgement, and you are waiving any rights to the name. You’ll also get a digital format of your choice for When Dark Falls.”

SFR Brigade Presents…FORGE

Welcome! I’m glad to have you stop by this corner of “SFR Brigade Presents…”

So you think you’re having a bad day? Imagine waking up from a nightmare of enslavement…in jail. With no idea how you got there, or even who you are. You’re “Tazhret”…”Nameless.” You’ve been accused of being a drug addict–because they found you rocketed on an illegal hallucinogen. And now, you’re about to be turned into an indentured servant–an izzy. You’d probably be looking for a lifeline, too. Someone–even if she might be only the product of your drug-fueled hallucinations–who tells you what you most need to hear….


Rough hands hauled him off the cot. Dizzied, he stumbled between the deputies, his steps dragging out of the cell, across the back of a large room crowded with desks, toward an oversized, dull-metal armchair, covered with straps. He stopped short on a hard gasp. The deputies pushed him forward.

“Move along, Tazhret,” the chief constable ordered. “This is your simplest path to a fresh start—”

Tazhret erupted into sudden violence, twisting out of the deputies’ grasp, jamming his elbows into their guts. They doubled over. A right cross to the chief’s jaw rocked the Tormin back.

Tazhret ran. Ran toward the exit, almost flying in light gravity. Must be on a lunar transfer station—

The electric hammer of a hurled shockstick hit him in the back of his head, fried his nerves, and plunged him back into darkness. Chains waited for him there, and an evil master. And a woman with nut-brown hair, who whispered, “You have a name.”

Hope you enjoyed your visit!


Return to SFR Brigade Presents.

SFR Brigade Presents…

Welcome! I’m glad to have you stop by this corner of “SFR Brigade Presents…”

For my first appearance here, I’ve got a snippet from my first book: “FORGE: Book I of the Thrall Web Series.”

Brief set-up: Keir–once a “half-starved izzy, mostly a lump of scars inside and out”– is now fully healed. In command of his talent, he leads the effort to save the planet Forge from cataclysm. As the first step, he must establish, on the psychic plane, a rapport with the woman who healed him. The same woman who has haunted his dreams since he first lost his name, his talent, and all his former life. (Nica’s full name has been deleted in order to reduce the spoiler-lishness of the clip….)

The scar down the left side of his face throbbed with the beat of his racing heart, as the healer raised her hand and laid it over the old wound. Avatar-to-avatar…and yet his skin warmed to her touch. Trinity, she was so close, he could kiss—

She took his hand, pulled up his sleeve, and showed him his wrist, with its wide, white scar—now pulsing with a golden glow.

“Keir, what…?” She brushed the tip of one finger across the remnant of his shackles.

Keir’s skin tingled. His heart skipped a beat, only to pound still faster with the desire to touch her in return. She was no longer a phantasm woven of scoot hallucinations and desperate hope. She was there, flesh-and-blood on the physical plane—there on the energy plane where thoughts and emotions took on the solidity of rock. With the embodiment of his dreams before him, Keir reined in his yearning heart. Nica he could have loved with honor. [The lady healer-adept] was beyond his touch. He gently reclaimed his hand, tugging the sleeve over the shimmering scar.

“I wear the gift of a healer’s touch, milady, and have mended well.”

Buy FORGE here.
~120k words. Semi-sweet. Epic adventure.

Thank you for stopping by! Return to SFR Brigade.