- Gotham: Dawn of Darkness.
- Jason Starr.
- 320 pages.
- Fiction / TV tie-in.
- My Rating: It’s OK Book Review.
A break-in at Wayne Manor. The death of a masked intruder. Amid the seething crime and corruption of Gotham City, Thomas Wayne fights to protect his family and his company from forces unknown. While detective Harvey Bullock investigates the incident as a simple burglary, Wayne discovers that the threat may come from his own dark past.
Peeling back layer upon layer of secrets, this is the official prequel to the hit television series.”
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Dawn of Darkness is a prequel to the Gotham TV show. In layman’s terms a robbery takes place at Wayne Manor and one of the criminals is killed while the other two manage to escape, in their possession is a priceless painting, but did they really mean to steal the painting or was it just an opportunity? If they are art thieves then why did they carve up the walls? Or were they searching for something else? Enter GCPD’s finest stalwart detective Harvey Bullock and his new partner Amanda Wong as they attempt to unravel the mystery of the crime.
All the usual suspects make an appearance particularly Dr Hugo Strange and the work he did at the Pinewood facility, funded by Thomas Wayne and now a haunted burden of the past. Oswald Cobblepot, Fish Mooney and Ed Nygma also all appear and while a nice addition to the story, making it more fully encompassing of the Gotham canon, their roles aren’t significant and could simply have been roles written for a generic character profile, it was name adding to make the story more authentic to the Batman universe using established character names and personalities. But their inclusion was fun and their quirks and traits were written spot on. Likewise, Jerome has a very brief and fleeting appearance and Dr Leslie Thompkins is also mentioned by another character.
The GCPD Police Department is written in detail, giving you a sense of the gothic architecture for the building but other well-known Gotham locales like Blackgate and Arkham Asylum are only mentioned. While rife with criminals and corruption you never really get a sense of the dark and ominous overtone Gotham usually inspires thanks to its gothic architecture.
For the most part, the characters are well written and Starr does a good job of bringing them to life, you feel like you are reading about the same characters from the TV show and can easily picture the actors playing them. It was nice to read more of Harvey Bullock (one of my favourite characters in the TV show).
But……there’s always one exception and that, unfortunately, is Alfred, an essential part of the book, Gotham, Bruce Wayne and the whole Batman canon. Now don’t get me wrong, Alfred is the Alfred we all know but I’m a massive fan of the TV show and in the show, Alfred always (except on very rare occasions) refers to Bruce as ‘Master Bruce‘, no matter how close their relationship, it’s a sign of respect. In the book, apart from once or twice Alfred simply refers to Bruce as ‘Bruce‘ and it just sounded wrong to me while reading, I kept adding ‘Master‘ before Bruce in my mind!
The pacing throughout is generally good with the plot moving along nicely until you get near to the end (anyone with the slightest knowledge of Batman knows the tragic fate of Bruce’s parents, Martha and Thomas Wayne and the event that surrounds their demise).
The ending to Dawn of Darkness felt rather rushed and due to the fact that we already know what is going to transpire, could have done with an extra ten to fifteen pages to build some tension just ‘something‘ extra to add a portentous feeling of dread to the inevitable conclusion.
I’ve found Gotham: Dawn of Darkness a hard book to review. Along with Game of Thrones, Black Sails and The Goldbergs amongst others, Gotham is one of my favourite TV shows and I was excited at the opportunity to read this book. Somewhat sadly, it adds nothing new overall to the back story of the characters and is often formulaic, coming across as an elongated episode of the TV series but in book form. In essence, it’s a prequel episode to Gotham which is in itself already a prequel to Batman.
However, in saying that, I’m working on the assumption that if you don’t like the show or the Batman mythos in general then you wouldn’t pick this book up anyway. But for fans of the show, it’s an enjoyable read and an entertaining way to whittle away a few hours.
I might seem to be pulling the book apart, that’s really not my intention, I’m merely trying to be unbiased in my review as even with the issues I had, I read Dawn of Darkness in just two days which tells you how much I personally enjoyed it. I just wanted ‘more‘ as I feel with some additions to the story, the book could have been really good, a few little extra inclusions here and there to have taken it to the next level.
For me the pages flew by, I became engaged in the story and while not compelling or groundbreaking, it was just a good fun read that kept pulling me back and for the naysayers out there, there’s nothing wrong in that, sometimes we don’t want or need a literary masterpiece of profound prose and meaning. Sometimes we just want to kick back with a book where we can switch our brains off and partake in a quick and easy read.
Issues aside, Dawn of Darkness does work well as a prequel, and for fans of Gotham, this is a decent read that you will enjoy and appreciate.
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