Minutes Before Sunset, by Shannon A. Thompson, is book one of The Timely Death Trilogy which chronicles the lives of three interconnected groups in Hayworth, Kansas: the Light, the Dark, and the Human.
The Dark and the Light have two forms—human and “mystical other”—and live in human communities, covertly hiding their supernatural forms. Those of the Light may seem beautiful to humans and have pretended to be god-like or angelic when appearing in the past, but demonstrate a terrifying capriciousness and cruelty in both novels. Those of the Dark, known as Shades, literally strive to protect the world from the burning, destructive power of the Light.
Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead
The protagonist, Eric, known as Shoman in his Shade form, has been training his whole life to battle a powerful warrior of the Light, Darthon, on Eric’s eighteenth birthday. This fight to the death fulfills a prophecy of ascendancy between the two factions, one which decides once and for all whether light or dark will dominate in the world.
In Minutes Before Sunset, it is one year before the prophesied battle; Eric meets Jessica, who moves back to Hayworth with her adoptive parents. Shoman sees her first as an unknown Shade, and then they meet in human form at the local high school. Because of the secretive nature the Dark needs to maintain, their romance develops in both forms but on separate paths. The reader knows the truth before Eric and Jessica recognize each other as both human and Shade combined. Their meeting, and romance, is tied to the prophecy and even though the personalities of humans differ from the Shades once they shift form, their romantic connection is undeniable.
It is an interesting choice to juxtapose a paranormal romance with the budding attraction felt by two seemingly typical high school students; but part of the brilliance in Thompson’s writing is the blending of the supernatural story world with the realistic setting of a small town.
Eric and Jessica have regular teenage lives outside of the supernatural setting. Jessica needs to deal with the disruption of moving to a new town. She has to find her place in the hierarchy of a high school setting that had been established for years. As a newcomer she creates interest, but also stirs old memories and animosities among her classmates when she tries to learn about them and the town. Eric faces a challenge of incorporating a new stepmother and stepbrother into his life after his father’s remarriage while also training for his battle against the Light.
I recommend Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A Thompson for any reader who enjoys well-written YA fiction with a supernatural twist.