I debated doing this review, because I love the Dark-Hunter series written by Kenyon. I’ve read the entire set, and well, I have issues. And spoiler alerts, so if you haven’t read Styxx (or Acheron, for that matter)…leave now. I won’t be offended in the slightest.
A couple weeks ago I let my building disappointment out a tiny bit. Now…I’m still disappointed. I was hoping over time my opinion would change, but no. Styxx follows the same formula as the rest of the series, which is great. HOWEVER, it was wrapped up way too quickly for me. After page, oh I dunno…700 (and I still had another 136 to go), I was begging for Kenyon to get to the point, any point. Restlessly looking at page numbers is not a good thing. I repeat: Not. A. Good. Thing. I feel horribly guilty for feeling this way and, worse yet, admitting it.
Here’s the lowdown: Styxx is Acheron’s twin brother. Because he was cursed by Apollymi (Acheron’s mom), Styxx feels everything Acheron does (pain, hunger, scars, etc). Their life forces are literally intertwined and if one dies so does the other. The thing about this though is Styxx can die if Acheron kills him – which he tries to. They both get sold as sex slaves by their Uncle Estes (bastard!) and not only does Styxx have his own account of events, he gets Acheron’s, too (For those who read Acheron, you get to relive all that as well and way more in-depth. Just a FYI). And because of this little fact, I think Kenyon was more cruel to Styxx. Dude was BRANDED as a whore and pleasure slave. Do you know where they like to put that particular brand? Yeah, right underneath the balls.
While I’m on this particular line, the whole BDSM aspect was insanely overdone. The majority of it was MM, which I had no problem with. My problem was in the sheer amount of focus placed on it in the story. Yes, I understand the story is about a man overcoming incredible odds and maintaining compassion, among other things. But, really, Kenyon? Really?!
It takes almost 300 pages for really original Styxx content. And then we don’t get to “current time” until an ungodly page 601. We literally jump from 9527bc to 2004. That leaves us with 235 pages for Styxx and Acheron to have a couple fights, make amends, bring Styxx’s goddess lover (Bethany) back from the dead AND have a baby. Oh, and discover another character is actually their unborn child whom both thought died when Apollymi went psycho and annihilated about a dozen Greek and Atlantean gods and goddesses when she found out Acheron was killed by Apollo (before Apollymi brings him back). OMG! I was piiiiiiiiissed! Was there not enough drama?
Ridiculously long story short – nobody super important really dies and Styxx gets a family who loves him. His original family, or families. And, make sure you have a giant-ass box of tissues. Unless you’re a heartless bitch, this WILL make you cry. A lot. Hard.
And for the critique-y part…
The Acheron/Styxx biographical crossover tactic was both positive and negative. The negative: Don’t read both books. You’ll only torture yourself. Pick one and leave it at that, because both are excellent standalone novels. If you can’t stop yourself, dear Goddess do NOT read them back to back. Truuuuuust meeeee. The Positive: If you read Acheron when it was released (2008) and don’t remember much of what you read, Styxx (2013) will help you recall those events and it will be almost like reading it for the first time. Now, I read Acheron when it was released, but I was able to recall the ENTIRE book as I read Styxx. This did not please me, and it is the first time I’ve had this problem in the series.
Most novelists with series develop and follow a certain formula. Kenyon is no different. In the case of her Dark-Hunter series, a mortal (usually male) is turned immortal by Artemis when he calls to her after losing a great love and being on the brink of death, and becomes one of Acheron’s soldiers to help take out the bad guys. Not long after, the now-immortal male finds his female counterpart – usually a woman with a bad familial or relationship history. Either way, everyone has trust issues. Styxx is no exception, other than Bethany has a pretty decent family life (if you don’t count her wiped memory of loving the first version of Styxx – more drama we don’t learn about until the near end). Anyway…formula: Tragedy, love, more tragedy causing separation, love returned, baby. That’s pretty much how it goes. And it works.
In the series in general, each book is its own story with little to no overlap among other books. Every once in awhile you’ll come across a chapter with a scene that flickers a memory of a scene from another book. Its no big deal, which is why I have such a content problem with Styxx. There’s a very thin grey line between recycled and perspective.
If you absolutely canNOT live the rest of your life without reading Styxx, I recommend borrowing a copy and only reading the last…oh…150 pages. 200 at max.
And the more I think about it, the more likely it is that Styxx is my last Dark Hunter book. Sorry, but it’s true.