September 22, 2023
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Book Reviews Fantasy

Day Bringer by J. S. R. VARMA: For Fans of Mythologies in Urban settings

Author: James Varma

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Year Published: 2023

Nerdection Rating:

“Nerdection Worth to Read”

Mythology and the idea of higher beings have fascinated humans for as long as there have been stars in the sky. We have seen gods everywhere we look – in the earth, in our relationships with one another, and in the parts of life that are just too complicated to contemplate. There is a belief that magic is simply science we are yet to understand, and so we assign divinity to it, personify it, and call it a god.

Spoiler-Free Plot

Varma’s urban-fantasy novel begins with the trial of a god. The God of Mystery stands before a court of divine beings, accused of murdering a mortal, and is charged with a life-long sentence of exile on a tiny uninhabited island in Norway. Millennia passes, the island becomes populated, and Mystery (now taking the form of a young woman, going by Verity) adapts to living amongst mortals. Mystery soothes her cravings for secrets and riddles through the island’s human population since she can no longer travel the world uncovering the biggest, juiciest secrets. Three-thousand years into her sentence, Mystery is released from her exile to help The Ten (a cohort of the ten most celebrated gods by humans at any given time) solve the mystery of a lifetime: the sun has gone missing. It set one day and simply failed to rise on the next.

With the help of a Celestial of the Sun, Kyrie, Mystery globetrots and investigates her way to the realization that the God of the Rising Sun, Dawn, has been kidnapped. The god of rebirth and new beginnings has been stolen away from her home. All they know is that Dawn seems to have been taken by force. Mystery and Kyrie work against the clock to find Dawn and save her from whatever presumably grisly fate her kidnappers have planned for her. But this series of events is not all it seems to be…

Mystery must keep her friends close and her mind sharp to catch up with this case. There are many twists and turns along the way, culminating in a scheme most villainous. There are godly powers aplenty, human sorcerers, epic magical battle scenes, and suspense all through the story to keep you on the edge of your seat!

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My Take on Day Bringer

Varma’s Day Bringer, despite the rapid pace of the story, is filled with pathos and homage to mythology from around the world. There is great contemplation of how the gods reflect humanity – how they exist to fill holes in our understanding of the world, but still hold powers and knowledge far beyond the psychological capacity of mortal beings. We are living in a world where knowledge and information is more readily available than ever before. However, Varma seems to suggest that what is known to humans – science, anthropology, etc. – is still in its infancy and there is still so much more to be discovered. The question is: what would that do to society? Would we become better for it, or would it ruin us?

There is no shortage of creativity involved in Varma’s clever personification of the gods. The extent of each of the gods’ character and powers was well thought out and executed. I particularly enjoyed the details around Dawn, the God of the Rising Sun, whose domain is related to rebirth and new beginnings. She is represented in the form of a child and her Dewdrop Celestials – Celestials being godly creations that hold powers related to their parent god and ultimately act as their minions – parody as her adult guardians. Mystery has a broad range of powers, not only limited to her domain – the principles of mystery, secrets, and the unknown – but she also has portal walking and transmogrify talents. The story makes a point of explaining the hierarchy of the gods and how it represents the current favored belief systems of mortals, essentially making power amongst the gods a popularity contest. This illustrates the fickle nature of humans and the fragile egotistical tendencies of ethereal beings. Varma sprinkles humorous details throughout the story of how gods would go to extreme lengths to reinvent themselves as new gods to make a comeback in popularity in a different era.

The pace of the writing was engaging and suspenseful. Varma utilized the magical portals his characters could produce to create rapid movement through the places and events of the story. The urban-fantasy elements were fun, utilizing well-known global landmarks, such as the British Library, and making them magical made it easier to fall into the story.

Content Triggers

This is a great young adult fantasy piece – recommended ages 12+ years.

Previous knowledge of popular mythology is recommended. Note there are scenes depicting the death of immortal beings, severe bodily injury to mortals, and some scenes with the Secret Celestials that may frighten younger children.

About The Author Of Day Bringer

James Varma is a London-based Lead Game Designer for the game studio Roll7. James went to university in Leeds to study Games Design and joined the industry straight out of university.
He has been in the games industry since 2009 and happily builds games as his day job, however he is also a passionate Fantasy Novelist.
His Debut Indie novel, Day Bringer (2023) is only the latest in a long line of books that he’s written, tending to write at least two books a year since he was in his mid-late teens, including his unpublished Wildcard series, that will be concluded with the sixth part in 2023.
In his spare time, James enjoys Table Top gaming (both TTRPGs and Boardgames) as well as video games on, PC and console.
In 2023 he finished his five-year-long homebrew 3.5-5e campaign and now runs regular one-shots for his friends and family.

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