Dark-Hunter, Book #14
By Sherrilyn Kenyon
Author’s Website: https://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi
*Beware of Spoilers*
We’ve met and loved Acheron throughout the Dark-Hunter series, but so much about him has been a secret and a mystery. Kenyon has started giving us little hints and glimpses about him … we know that he’s blue in his true form, we know that he was the unwanted twin, and we’ve seen a few glimpses of his past. But now we finally learn the whole story and brace yourself, we finally find out what Ash is! I’ve been looking forward to his story for quite a while and was eager to delve into it.
This book is massive at 728 pages and it reads like two books smacked together. The first “book” is Ash’s past, and it’s a grisly and sad story. Part of me wishes they were separate books, but I’m pretty sure if they were I probably wouldn’t have rated the first one so highly. There are no chapters in this part of the book, and is laid out as journal entries supposedly written by his human sister, Ryssa. Although some of it is written from his point of view, so it can’t all truly be written by Ryssa.
Ash was cursed by the three fates before he was even born. They prophesied that he would destroy the Atlantean pantheon. Therefore, his father wanted him killed. His mother, the goddess Apollymi, did all she could do to protect him. She cut him out of her stomach and had him put into a human queen’s stomach (the gods were sure a gory bunch) and tied his life with the son she already carried. When the twins were born the family doted on his brother Styxx and were abhorred by Acheron. With his silver eyes, he was deemed a monster by his father. The only reason they kept him alive is the oracle proclaiming that if Acheron died, Styxx would die as well.
Acheron led a life of pain and degradation. He was forced to be a sex slave and was beaten often for the smallest of transgressions. But they made sure to keep him alive so that Styxx wouldn’t lose his life.
The only person that ever saw Acheron as someone deserving of love was his sister, Ryssa. Unfortunately, as well-intentioned as she was, she often caused him more punishment and pain.
“He will be called Acheron for the River of Woe. Like the river of the underworld, his journey shall be dark, long and enduring. He will be able to give life and to take it. He will walk through his life alone and abandoned – ever seeking kindness and ever finding cruelty. May the gods have mercy on you, little one. no one else ever will.”
Meeting and falling in love with Artemis seemed wonderful to him in the beginning, but ended up causing him the most pain of all.
The second “book” of this title is Ash in the present. An archaeologist, Soteria ‘Tory’ Kafieri has picked up her family’s obsession with finding Atlantis. Her family has been ridiculed her whole life for chasing this fantasy and she wants to prove her family was right all along. Ash goes to a lecture she’s giving to sway her away from the truth and he discovers that she has uncovered real artifacts from Atlantis including one of Ryssa’s journals! Then, they find another one that could expose him for the whore he is and would also tell the world how to kill him. He doesn’t want to lose the respect of his Dark-Hunters once they find out about his horrid past. He doesn’t want them to learn that he’s still whoring himself out for them. And, he’s not the only one after the journal. Tory is in danger and he’s the only one that can protect her! But can he trust her when everybody in his life has betrayed and hurt him?
The first part of this book, Ash’s past, was heart-breaking to read. I understand Kenyon wanting to paint a picture of just how bad Ash’s life was, but I think she could have probably condensed it a bit. I was walking around just sad for him while reading that part of the book. I was also getting frustrated with Ryssa who was having him do things she knew he wasn’t allowed to do and of course him getting caught and punished. Every. Single. Time. However, the pain he endured shaped him into the man we know and love. And it’s only fitting for him to finally have a woman that can understand and appreciate him, despite his horrid past.
“Today they finally carried out Acheron’s castration for a crime I know he’d never commit. I can still hear his screams of unbearable pain. His cries for mercy and for death. The way he sobbed like I’d never heard him cry before. I don’t think he knows how the sound of his misery echoed through the halls. How those screams scarred my soul. And I doubt if I will ever be able to silence them from my heart.
Ryssa’s words spoke to her. Now she fully understood what Ash had endured as a human being. A pawn to his enemies. A pawn to the brutal machinations of people who had no regard for his life or feelings. Assaulted, betrayed and abused. It was a wonder the man was even sane. That he wasn’t as merciless and callous toward the world that had been that way to him. The fact that he could find even a modicum of compassion astounded her. And she wasn’t going to let these assholes use her to hurt him.”
We also got to see the beginning of Acheron and Artemis. In the beginning they were almost sweet. That is until Artemis’s selfishness truly came out. She didn’t want to be caught with him. She made him her dirty secret and he was punished for it time and again, while she let it happen. If you don’t hate Artemis already, you will by the end of this book! Honestly, my biggest fear of this novel was that he’d end up with her. Thankfully Kenyon did NOT allow that to happen!
“I don’t like your hair black.”
He gave her a droll stare. “And I don’t like your head attached to your shoulders. Guess we can’t all have what we want, huh?”
I loved Tory, hammer throwing and all! She hated Ash for embarrassing her, but she needed him to translate the journals for her. And, the more she got to know him, she realized he wasn’t the asshole she had pegged him for. Who could hate a man when he’s so sweet with all those kids, especially Toby! We all knew he had the patience of a saint to deal with Simi all this time, but we got to see a softer side for sure!
We got to see some of Simi too, but not as much as I had expected.
By the end of this book, Ash and Tory truly became a power couple and I’m so happy for Ash to finally get the love he’s always deserved.
“I know better than to interfere with the natural order, but I couldn’t let you die. I didn’t want to watch you suffer.”
“Why would you do that?”
He led her hand to his face so that she was touching his cheek as he stared at her. His eyes and the pain in them burned her soul deep.
“Because I don’t feel broken when you look at me. “
Those words brought tears to her eyes. “How could you feel broken?”
He rubbed his face against her palm and when he spoke, his breath scorched her skin. But it was his words that branded her heart. “I was shattered as a child and thrown away, like a piece of trash no one wanted. But you don’t treat me like that. You see in me the human bit and you touch that part of me. You make me feel whole and wanted.”
Tory pulled him against her and held him close as her tears finally fell.
“I love when you hold me,” he whispered against her shoulder.”
I loved the scenes (including the quote above) with drunk Ash! Who knew a simple soda could affect him so!
“Did you beat me with a hammer while I was sleeping?”
“Then why do I feel like this?”
She still hadn’t moved from her spot on the floor.
“Apparently you can’t hold your Sprite, buddy.”
However, this book is a game-changer. Ash is no longer going to be able to free his Dark-Hunters in the way he always has. Going forward he will have to forge a new way. And, I hope that means we’ll see even more of this couple throughout the rest of the series! And hopefully some mini-Ashs as well!
This book is emotional, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, but absolutely beautiful too. Anyone who has ever loved Ash, even if you’ve grown apart from this series, MUST read this book! I’ve always adored Ash, but this book made me love him even more!
“He looked at Atropos who was tall and blond and who absolutely hated him with a passion he’d never understood. In that moment, he allowed her to see every ounce of fury inside him. “You ever sever the thread for Soteria’s life again and there’s no power in existence that will keep me from tearing your throat out. The three of you have screwed me over for the last time. In all these centuries, I’ve left you alone. Now, I’m warning you to return the favor because the next time you tamper with my fate, I will end yours.”
The fear on their faces told him that they understood and had taken his point to heart. Good. He was through playing games. When it came to Soteria, he had no sense of humor whatsoever. Anyone who threatened her, ended their own life.
It was that simple.
She’d taught him to finally embrace who and what he was. Woe to the rest of them. Because he was now the Harbinger not just for his mother, but for a slip of a woman who held his heart.
For her, he’d do anything.
Even end the world.”