Classification: Adult Fiction
Series: Dark-Hunter (Book 23)
Format: Hardcover; 848 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 3, 2013)
Notes: I bought this one.
Once upon a time a King and Queen were blessed with the birth of twin sons. But as the two babies were being inspected and bathed, the words no parent wishes to hear were uttered--that one of the boys was malformed. In the days of old, when Gods still walked among us, such a birth defect could mean only one thing--at least one of the twins was not the King's, but rather the son of a God. Instantly a family was torn apart. A wife and Queen was accused of adultery, the paternity of both boys was called into question, and a King, loyal to his Gods, lost a little if not all of his faith.
The Fates, in this instance, were particularly cruel. For one of the boys was indeed the son of a God but also the son of a Goddess. He had been placed in a human surrogate to protect him. For the Fates, three of the most powerful beings in their pantheon, had declared he would be then end of them all and thus he had a target figuratively tattooed on his back. For what the fates declared always came to be and so the Gods began a race against time to find the babe and kill him before he came into his full powers at the age of 21.
The twin suspected of being a God's was shunned by the King and at the age of 7, was sent off to be raised by his uncle, a man who should have had the young child's best interest at heart, but didn't. He was sold to the highest bidder to fulfill their every sexual fantasy and desire. His name was Archeron. The other twin was groomed to be his father's heir, and by all historical accounts, was the beloved son of his father. But as been said time and time again through the ages, you can't always believe what you read nor what is whispered. For until you walk in another man's shoes, you truly don't know his true and full story.
“Life has a way of breaking even the strongest among us.”
“The most beautiful heart of all is the one that can still love even while it bleeds, and especially after its been broken into thousands of pieces.”
Sherrilyn Kenyon is in my top ten list of favorite authors. She excels at writing the tales of tortured heroes, quotable dialogue, and stories which inspire the downtrodden to never give up and to believe things will get better. In an age where suicide seems all too common, Ms. Kenyon's stories masterfully bring a ray of hope to her readers one book at a time. That said, at times this book was too painful to read and that's something I don't think I've ever said about a book before. On several occasions I had to put the book down, something I've never had to do, because what happens to Styxx was just too unbearable--the emotions and pain conjured up were just too much to take in. I needed to skip over some scenes because I just couldn't take that amount of abuse in one sitting. Nor did I wish to.
From all our previous knowledge of Styxx it appeared he'd done his brother wrong and had written him off many years ago. Acheron's impression of him was that he was pampered, conceited, spoiled, and arrogant. Funny how the interpretation of how another person acts or responds to particular situations can easily be misinterpreted to mean one thing when the exact opposite can be true. I feel the following passage accurately describes Styxx. “The strongest of metals is forged under the most violent of conditions, my lord. It is buried deep in the hottest coals and then beat and pounded until it is bent into shape. Then it becomes the strongest, most lethal of weapons. A thing of absolute beauty and force.” This story delves into how, without being able to step into another individual's shoes or mind, we can't truly determine if our interpretation of them is correct--and that is so very true of Styxx.
What blew me away about this tale is how perfectly all the pieces of Styxx's story fit together with the previous stories we've read in the series. The amount of planning and forethought that had to go in to this is mind boggling and awe inspiring. I feel like I've watched a magic trick and need to go back now and reread a bunch of the previous books to make sure I saw what my mind thinks it saw. The next time you wish you could swap places with someone you admire or envy, remember to be careful what you wish for. Sometimes that seemingly perfect life someone leads is only the facade they let you see. Some scars, as Ms. Kenyon would probably say, can't be seen by the naked eye--they run much deeper. Others lie all to close to the surface while remaining unseen carefully hidden under that which clothes us.
I gave this book 5 out of 5 roses. I can't help but wonder if the book was as painful to write as it was for me to read. A tale of about deception, deceit, misconceptions, misinterpretations, hope, forgiveness, love, loss, and joy. A word of caution to anyone wishing to read this one, make sure you're in a good state of mind because you will be taken on a journey to a place where the word nightmare isn't truly strong enough. I kept hoping Kenyon had done her worst and then she'd take us down even lower. I'll leave off with my favorite quote which we all should keep in mind, “Every man, woman, and child is capable of extreme and utter prejudice and cruelty when they feel justified in their hatred. Right or wrong. We are all capable of lashing out when we’re in pain. No one, not even you or I, is immune from that. As Plato said, be kind to everyone you meet for we are all fighting difficult battles."