Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Part of a Series?: Yes (this is part of the Dark Hunter series, which has several other closely connected series to go with it)
*I originally read this book using one of my library’s copies and have since purchased my own copy
This is the story of Styxx, twin brother of Acheron–one of the most prominent, mysterious, and vital characters appearing in the Dark Hunter universe. In prior appearances, Styxx has always been in opposition with Acheron, and readers of the previous books have, most likely, come to view Styxx as (at best) a thorn in Acheron’s side. Now, however, the safety of the world depends on the cooperation of these two brothers and readers, finally, get a chance to see Styxx from his own point of view. Who will Styxx really turn out to be? Will he and Acheron be able to put aside their differences long enough to do what is needed to save the world?
I am a big fan of all of the books from this universe: Dark Hunter, Dream Hunter, Were Hunter, and (especially) The Chronicles of Nick. I was expecting to enjoy this book when I picked it up, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to like Styxx, since he has pretty much always been a “bad” guy in his previous appearances (not to be confused with the “bad guy”, aka the antagonist or villain of a story). Ms. Kenyon, however, managed it wonderfully. I fell in love with Styxx, with Bethany (the love interest of Styxx), and the book. This is, currently, my favorite book of the series and (I believe) a must-read of anyone who enjoys this series. Even if you haven’t read the series, it is a book worth considering.
The Nitty Gritty:
Ms. Kenyon is a skilled writer. She can achieve a great deal of characterization with very little effort. On pages 7 and 8, for example, she gives us an inside look at Styxx and Acheron’s father: “He tightened his grip, which caused the baby to wake and cry out. A part of him wanted to slam the child into the ground and watch it die. To stomp it into oblivion.” With just a few dozen words, the reader knows how awful King Xerxes is and instantly wants to protect Acheron…AND Styxx (despite “knowing” how he is going to turn out). Ms. Kenyon’s skilled use of word choice to build characterization continues throughout the remainder of this lengthy book. By the time we reach the conclusion, we have a thorough insight of many, many characters. And all of them are distinct, memorable, and deep.
Word choice, the rise and fall of conflict, and emotional connections between characters all work together to draw the reader in. The pace is varied, but steady, and makes this a difficult book to set aside (no matter how loud the screeches between fighting siblings gets). For those readers who have read previous books and avoided this one, for fear that Styxx will be unlikeable…have no fear! Ms. Kenyon does an excellent job of letting us see the true heart of Styxx–without throwing Acheron’s character or behavior into question.
As for the romance side of things…Bethany and Styxx coming together make these two characters sing. The life that seems to jump off the page in their scenes together is palpable. However, there are some hiccups and twists and turns that occur over the course of their lifetime that keep the romantic storyline from becoming boring or mundane. Over all, this is a romance you can fantasize over, and a set of characters that you feel you know–and wish you could protect.
Special Parenting Concerns:
First and foremost, this is a romance. There are scenes of intimacy and lovemaking. Beyond that, however, this is a book that begins 9,000 years ago in a much more violent (think Spartan) society. There are many scenes of violence, torture, rape (including gang rape), and sex slaves. This is not an easy book to read, and is not for the immature. Even those who are mature, but perhaps young, may not be the right reader for this book. That said, it is worth the read. Glimpses of humanity, love, honor, and bravery are also found throughout this book. It can inspire the reader to greater heights in their own life and greater faith in humanity. For parents considering whether or not to allow their mature teenager to read this, I say only that I would recommend you read it first, take your child’s personality into consideration, and then be ready to talk things through.
Book Club Chatter:
This book is long and covers a large variety of discussion-worthy topics. Rather than list questions for all topics, I am going to simply suggest topics worth exploring (and suggest that you provide plenty of reading and discussion time for this book; one month may not be enough!):
- How fear can impact our lives, personalities, and culture
- How courage can be large or small; this is a very good topic to use to connect the book and characters to personal lives (by looking at acts of courage we have done, acts of courage we have witnessed, or acts of courage that have impacted or become a part of our culture)
- How assumptions about people, and belief of gossip, can mold our view of a person–and even mold that person’s view of themselves (and their personality)
- How emotions in general can impact our life and world: they can distort memories, distort our view of other people and their actions, etc
You Will Like This If…:
- You like the other Dark Hunter novels
- You like authors like Marjorie Liu and Christine Feehan
- You like Blood Rose
- You like paranormal romance
- You like stories of ancient civilizations
- You like stories that cover an epic sweep of time/history