WARNING: here there be spoilers for the first two books in the Marked series
Eve of Chaos (Marked, Book 3), third book in the "Marked" series by S.J. Day, is much the same as the first two books, which is both good and bad. Fans of the first two (like I am) can take heart in the fact that there is no drop in quality. Those who didn’t like the first or second book shouldn't even bother reading this one - it doesn't get any better, either. While a continuation of the first two books, this definitely isn't a trilogy. The ending indicates (as has Day herself) that this is going to be an ongoing series. If Day can keep up this quality, she'll have this reader for life.
Evangeline Hollis (Eve) is not having a good time. Life as one of the "Marked" (basically God's bounty hunters) would be making her tired if her enhanced abilities allowed that to happen. Since she killed Satan's favorite pet in the previous book, he has even viler plans for her than he already did. He's put a bounty on her head, and every low-rent demon in the greater Los Angeles area is now gunning for her. Meanwhile, she's torn between the two original brothers - her mentor, Alec Cain, and her handler, Reed Abel - and things have become even harder since Cain ascended to become the Archangel leading the North American front corporation of God's demon-hunting apparatus. At that level, Cain can no longer feel the love that she so desperately treasures; meanwhile, Abel is trying desperately to show her that he wants more than to just sleep with her. Then there's the return of their parents to this world, which just might be what Satan was trying to manipulate all the while. Why do things have to get so complicated?
Once again, I have to warn readers who don't like explicit sex in their books to stay away from this series. Not only is there some in Eve of Chaos (Marked, Book 3) (and the entire series), but the language is highly sexualized as well. In such a charged atmosphere, I suppose it's only fitting that one of the scenes denoting how evil Satan (“Sammael” in the book) is depicts one of Hell's mindless female denizens gratifying him while one of his chief demons watches. The casualness with which he treats the whole situation is supposed to give added emphasis to what a despicable entity he is. Personally, I found the whole thing rather obvious and wish Day had left that scene out. Not because it offended me, but just because we already know he's the epitome of evil. Degrading sex adds nothing to that.
That said, the rest of the plotting and characterization is spot on. The growing gulf between Eve and Alec pushes her closer and closer to Reed, while Alec desperately tries to contain the growing darkness within and keep away from Eve. We see the machinations of the archangels as they jockey for power, Reed's jealousy of Alec achieving what he's been working toward for so long (yet another reason for animosity between them), and Eve finally gets to meet the parents! Yes, we actually get to meet Adam and Eve (to avoid confusion, Day calls her Ima (I'm not sure if that's another Biblical name for her or something Day just uses, but it does help) and they are interesting characters as well. We find out a bit more what happened in that Garden of Eden and Satan's plans for everything.
Things reach an explosive climax that showcases Day’s action writing. All sides are playing a dangerous game, with deals and fake deals among different opposing sides making it all seem a little confusing, but Day makes it pretty clear what's going on. You know who the good guys and the bad guys are, and of course there are going to be double-crosses, so the ultimate events are a bit predictable. How they play out, however, is very well done.
The ending of the book has a couple of cliffhangers, but since these three books came out so close together, I have to think Day was contracted for these three and is probably now writing the fourth (or, hopefully, is nearly done). Fans will have to wait a bit before they see what happens, including the introduction of a new character and a potentially major change in Eve's relationship with one of her beaus.
Eve of Chaos (Marked, Book 3) continues S.J. Day's good work, and is a hard book to put down. Her writing keeps you riveted, and the intriguing situations she sets up are just icing on the cake. If you can't accept the portrayal of archangels as power-hungry corporate heads whose archetypical position keeps them from feeling love but does the opposite to their libido, then you won't like these books. The rest of us? We're hungry for more.