STYXX by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Total Immersion Escapism

Styxx Amazon

Series: Dark-Hunter (Book 23)
Hardcover: 848 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition – September 3, 2013
Language: English

Epic in scope and length, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s latest offering has everything. I mean that in the most literal way. Absolutely everything. Eleven thousand years of … well … What would you like? If it’s fantasy, sexual, violent, weird … it’s here. My reality has been a real drag lately, so despite the fact that I had stopped reading Ms. Kenyon’s books a while back, I got this. Actually, to be fair, I forgot that I had pre-ordered it months ago, so when it showed up on my Kindle, I said “Oh, lookie here. Ooh, and it’s a long one. Yummy.”

Thing is, I’d stopped buying her books. They had become so much the same, I figured rather than spend money on a new one, I could reread an earlier one. Save a few dollars. Get the same kicks.

Styxx isn’t one of her cookie cutter, interchangeable books. Like Acheron, this is a big book in every way. I actually listened to it on Audible rather than reading it because my eyes don’t do well on very long books, and now that is owned by Amazon, you get a big discount on many audiobooks you already own on Kindle. Then you can follow the bouncing ball in your Kindle while a narrator reads to you. As an audiobook, it’s 31 hours of listening. The narrator is overall good, but I am not sure why some Atlantean Goddesses and Greek gods and demigods have Cockney accents. Just wondering, is all.

Styxx audibleStyxx lets you spend  serious time in those golden olden days of yore. It’s enough to make you glad you don’t really live then and there.

So, what will you find in Styxx?

Sex, for one. A hefty dollop, though oddly, not quite as proportionately much as many of her lesser books. It’s there, but it’s not the most prominent feature of the book. Still, you won’t feel deprived. There’s plenty … but it’s not the only thing.

The most prominent feature of the book is torture and violent rape. Male-on-male rape. Agonizing torture, sex slavery, more torture, whippings, serious chains and bondage, straight up child abuse and cruelty, child rape (I sincerely hope that isn’t your thing). It’s all there, a cornucopia of perversion. Keeps you turning pages. In CinemaScope and surround sound. Name your hottest S & M fantasy. This book has got it. Lots of it, whatever it may be.

Oh, I almost forgot about the drugs. Them too.

Chains. Whips. Brands. Bondage. Rape. Torture. Regular sex too, just for contrast. And love. Karma in action. Reincarnation. Immortality. If you have read any other books in the series — Acheron in particular — you already know the plot. Horrible things happen to the hero. Cruelty, injustice, misery, torture. Not to worry. Love conquers all. Heals all. A fair amount of melodrama transpires along the way. Keep a hankie nearby to dry your tears.

This book also features the ever-popular war. There are some excellent, well-written battle scenes. Some of the best writing in the book is devoted to military maneuvers. She also provides (as usual) a substantial amount of pseudo-history, as well as Sherrilyn Kenyon’s special brand of “she made it up herself, really she did” mythology. She does it so well you think it must be based on something other than her imagination, but it has no basis in fact. Her ability to create things that feel very real is one of her strongest abilities as an author.

She give this book something she has never really given in any of the many books in the series I’ve read. True, there were hints, but this time, she lets it hang out.

Sherrilyn Kenyon is witty and clever. Her humor tends to the dark end of funny, but it’s there. Much of the wit falls into the category “Easter eggs,” hidden jokes for those in the know. She makes literary and movie references that, if you notice them, make you stop and say … “Hey, wait minute … that’s from …”

It was when Styxx, our hero, looks at the heavens and says “The old man was right” that I could no longer ignore it. This a very famous — and favorite — line from “The Magnificent Seven.” My husband uses it as his email signature.

I couldn’t let it pass, so I stopped reading and went to tell my husband, a man who can recite the entire script of “The Magnificent Seven” from memory. He and I discussed if it could be accidental and he said, “Not a chance” because that’s as famous a movie line as any, up there with “We don’t need no stupid bodges …” (NOT in the book). However, after that, I started consciously listening for hidden wit. I found plenty.

Underlying everything, Sherrilyn Kenyon has a wicked sense of humor. I love that in an author. I will forgive anything for cleverness, snappy dialogue and something to make me laugh. She made me laugh. More than once. It told me that she was not taking herself overly seriously, that she knew who her readers are. I was profoundly grateful.

You can miss the wit entirely if you aren’t acquainted with the source of her little surprises. If you don’t recognize where they come from, you won’t get them. The book goes on fine without them but they are a nice bonus for those of us who do catch them as the fly by.

Favorite original quote from Styxx: “A quiet man is a thinking man. A quiet woman is an angry one.”

I’m going to have to find somewhere to use that. Great line.

Plot? Oh,  yes, the plot. If you read Acheron, it’s the same plot, but from the other side of the mirror. This is, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.” Styxx is Acheron’s twin brother, the one who was supposed to have it easy, a spoiled princeling while Acheron struggled to survive. Not so, not so at all. Styxx’s tortures exceed even Acheron’s and last longer. Acheron is not the hero of the story. For followers of the Dark Hunter series, it may come as a painful shock to discover Acheron isn’t always a good guy. His nasty, mean-spirited, closed-minded side gets a good airing in Styxx.

I started by saying I was really ready to escape from my reality when this book showed up. I might not have bought it if I hadn’t pre-ordered it … but it was fortuitous that it did. I needed a dose of “out of this world.” You need to absolutely suspect your credulity to get into the book. Logic? Oh please. We don’t need no stupid logic. Just let the book sweep you away, accept it for what it is and enjoy it. If you don’t like explicit sex or violence, skip it. It’s not for everyone. If you are homophobic, skip it. If you are a Conservative Christian, skip it. I suspect the audience for this is mainly women, but I’m sure there are men who would like it too.

A lot of the story doesn’t really make much sense if you examine it closely. So my advice? Don’t examine it closely. Also, it is very clear where the story is going next and that should be most interesting. For the record, this is not the book where the danger of Acheron and his mom getting together to end the world as we know it is concluded. Not yet. More to come. Stay tuned!

The hottest, most powerful Dark Hunter — Acheron

Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Cover of "Acheron (Dark-Hunter, Book 12)&...

Sherrilyn Kenyon’s books are usually predictable, easy to read, and sexy. The plots are essentially identical from book to book, pure entertainment and as much (more?) soft porn as fantasy.

This is different. Longer and more complicated, it’s also more ambitious than any other book in the series … and there are a lot of books in the series.


Although Sherrilyn Kenyon uses various pantheons — Greek, Atlantean, Roman, and so on — as supposed sources for characters, really she just makes them up as she goes along. There was no god or demigod called Acheron. There was a Titan (maybe, in some versions), but mostly, Acheron was a river, one of several that ran together in the underworld.

Acheron as well as his mother Apollymi, father Archon and brother Styxx are supposedly part of the Atlantean pantheon. There is no Atlantean pantheon. If there ever was an Atlantis, it perished, disappeared with all of its knowledge and history. This leaves Ms. Kenyon a lot of room to improvise, mixing standard mythical characters with her own creations. There’s nothing wrong with this, especially since she never claims her characters are based on anything but her own imagination. Just don’t get bent out of shape if you look them up and can’t find them. They aren’t there. Google as much as you like: she made them up.

End digression. We now return you to this book review, already in progress …

Acheron has some depth to his character. He certainly carries a great deal of history and has more than his share of personal demons.

Our hero has been around about 11,000 years. So far. He is immortal, so he’s got some good years left to him. He had a horrendous childhood, including a level of abuse — physical, emotional and sexual — that is almost unimaginable. However, Ms. Kenyon rises to the occasion and chronicles every tormented moment with relish, missing not a single moment of cruelty, torture, kinkiness or pedophilia.

Acheron hasn’t gotten past the nightmare of his childhood. I sympathize. I really do. Nonetheless, Acheron is part of the modern world. He has been actively involved in the world pretty much since the beginning of time. These days he uses a computer. Watches television. Fights evil. Since he has had forever and will have forever, I believe it is more than time for him to work through his childhood issues and move on. Have a chat with Dr. Phil, accept he was a victim and not responsible for what was done to him. After 11,000 years … well … most of us work this out in a single human lifetime. With eternity to deal with it, I would think Acheron has had sufficient time and experience to get past it. Surely he has read a few books about child abuse? Watched Law & Order: SVU? Even allowing for residual feelings of worthlessness etc., that’s a lot of time to be stuck in childhood, no matter how horrific. Let it go, Ash.

If you can get past the illogic of a man who is highly intelligent and savvy, but can’t — in 11,000 years — find a path to resolving his terrible childhood, you’ll enjoy the rest of the read. Acheron may not be good at dealing with his own emotional demons, but he is very good at fighting real, in-the-flesh demons.

Acheron also has a mother problem. Here, I’m with Acheron. No amount of therapy is going to help him deal with this mother. He has the mother of mothers, the uber-mother. I probably ought to mention should Acheron get really upset, the world will probably end. I don’t mean Acheron’s world. I mean the world. Our world. All the worlds. Double that for mom. If Ash and Mom should get together, even for a little mother and son chat? Apocalypse now.

The book is good. It moves along at a nice, snappy pace. It’s never dull. Includes a lot of sex and if there’s one thing Sherrilyn Kenyon writes well … sex is it. So, assuming you like that sort of thing and can suspend your disbelief for a bit … and don’t over-think the story … you’re in for some excellent reading entertainment. If you’re into that sort of thing. Hot immortal guys wearing lots of leather. Who have super powers in bed as well as out. Graphically so.

Read this for fun and a ripping good tale with a great assortment of demons, demigods, gods, vampires … whatever you can think of, this book has got them.

Acheron is a very attractive character. He is all insanely heroic, a hero of heroes. All the heroes of all the fiction you’ve ever read in one incredibly handsome, ripped and leather-wrapped body.

This is the best book of the series to date, maybe the best of her books, though I’m reading Styxx now and it may be as good or better. Tune in. I’ll review Styxx when I finish it.

Acheron is long. Dive in and stay a while. He is the only character who appears in all of the Dark Hunter books, though he isn’t the main character in any of the others.  Unlike most of the other Dark Hunters, you will remember him.

Leather, explicit sex, immortals with magic powers — The Dark Hunter Series

I read a bunch of these books, but quit before reading all of them. I realized I didn’t need to buy another one because I could reread ones I already own. I don’t remember which was which. What’s more, it doesn’t matter because if you are reading these books, it isn’t for their literary merit or intricate plots. Or three-dimensional characters.

Cover of "Acheron (Dark-Hunter, Book 12)&...

To say all of Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s books are the same is not overly harsh. Some books are longer than others. The covers are different as are the titles. Also, some characters have dark hair, others are blond. I think that sums up the differences.

It’s important to like explicit sex and a lot of it because that’s pretty much where these are at. All the books have the same characters and plot. The dialogue appears to have been copied from one manuscript and pasted into the next with the names changed. Characters recur in multiple books, so Ms. Kenyon doesn’t always have to change all the names. The formula has been highly successful and profitable for the author and publisher. Her books sell very well, probably because you always know what you’re getting.

This is just what the doctor ordered for late nights when you want something to read in the sleepy minutes before you fade. Nothing in any of these books will keep you awake.

Now for the plot. There’s a guy. He has suffered terribly — frequently tortured — and for no good reason. He’s immortal so the torture goes on a really long time, like thousands of years. He is a total hunk. Insanely handsome. Perfect body. Sex on a stick. He meets a young woman. She is stunning. Gorgeous, sensitive, caring, powerful and very horny. They have sex. They have more sex. Then, they have more sex. After that, she cures his neuroses and guilt complexes. She banishes his evil memories however horrific, even if they lasted for ten thousand years. Literally.

As a couple, they must fight to avoid being killed by other powerful (evil) immortals with amazing powers. They triumph because their powers are more powerful than the evil powers of the bad guys. And the author is on their side.

They get married, live happily forever after because somehow, she too has become immortal — if she wasn’t in the first place. Did I mention magical powers? Godlike powers? Godhood itself? That too. Oh, I almost forgot. Sometimes the main character is a woman, so reverse the sexes but retain the plot.

Apply this to every book in the series. Don’t worry about names. You won’t remember them. I was halfway through one book before I realized I’d already read it.

These are fun if you want what they offer: a lot of sex with hot immortal guys and gals who wear leather, drive expensive cars, fast bikes and have magical powers. Keep your expectations modest. Kenyon’s books are entirely predictable. You will never experience surprise or disappointment. If you want or expect more, you’ve chosen the wrong books. To quote a famous football coach, “It is what it is.” No more, no less.

The entire series is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

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Dirk Gently – Holistic Detective, Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams in his first Monty Python appear...

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detection Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul published in 1987 and 1988. It was originally intended to be a trilogy (The Salmon of Doubt was to be the third book in the series) but the author died before completing it.

I first read these when they were originally published. I have no idea how many times I have read them since, but I keep emergency copies of them on my Kindle in case I need a fix. I have had who-know-how-many copies in paperback, a couple of hard cover copies, and both books on cassette tape, CD, and now as Audible downloads.

I have listened to it so many times that you might think I’d grow tired of it, but I never do. Of all the books that Douglas Adams wrote — and I love all of them — this is my favorite.

Unlike the Hitchhiker series, the Dirk Gently books have plots and follow a linear timeline. They are bizarre, outlandish and hilarious, but are actual detective stories, albeit full of ghosts, gods and weirdness.

I love Dirk Gently. He’s wonderfully strange and finds things intentionally by accident. The “holistic detective,” his purposely random behavior produces results. He doesn’t know how he does what he does and he doesn’t actually like it, but he counts on it.

The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul was the book in which Adams introduced the idea that gods without worshipers fade away, that their powers spring from having followers. The idea was new and unique when the books were published in 1987 and 1988. Since then, the concept has been widely adopted by many authors and is now a staple in the fantasy genre.

Extended CD version released 13 November 2008

The title of the book is taken from Adams’ novel Life, the Universe and Everything (my favorite of the Hitchhiker series) to describe the wretched boredom of immortal being Wowbagger, the Infinitely Prolonged. It’s also a play on Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross.

Douglas Adams died suddenly and far too soon. I still mourn him, but his influence and books live on.

Douglas Adams left his fingerprints all over the fantasy genre. Although Dirk was not a magician, he had magic. Descended from him is a legion of magic-wielding detectives solving crimes around the world. Douglas’ proclamation that “The Gods live!” has become the backbone of more than a few well-known authors. An entire sub-genre of literature is peopled by immortals and gods from various Pantheons.

Douglas Adams got there first and got there laughing.

If you haven’t read “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” you should correct that omission as soon as possible. You don’t have to read them in order, but I think they are better that way although each book stands on its own. You’ll love the gods … gods of rain, gods of thunder, gods of every little thing … as they roam the earth, wondering what happened to all their worshipers.