Hallelujah, I can finally sleep!
So what did I think?
Well, I loved the first part. Despite feeling that the writing lacked a certain authenticity, I found the storytelling so compelling that the book was almost unputdownable. Acheron’s early life is gruesome, and Kenyon doesn’t pull any punches. She manages to find that fine balance between laying it all out for the reader without making the violence feel gratuitous. Probably because she leaves the most horrific parts unsaid or off-page, which is always much, much worse, I think, because it almost compels you to fill in the blanks and imagine the hundred different yet equally terrible things that may have happened.
About halfway through the first part of the book, I realised that Kenyon was playing me. And doing it beautifully. She intersperses scenes of beauty and simple joy with acts of barbarism, and she balances these so finely that I was shocked yet again by each act of betrayal that Ash suffers. I completely bought his back story.
Ash and Artemis
The complexity of Ash’s relationship with Artemis is also managed deftly. In a way, I read theirs as a kind of love story, too, just not one with a happy ending. And even though I was always firmly on Ash’s side, my heart broke for both of them each time their relationship was put into conflict. It’s a story of love, flawed lovers, duty, maybe of destiny, and certainly of the pressures that can crush something that could have been precious and rare and wonderful. I cried for them a little. That was a bit of a surprise.
Then I got to the second part of the book, which is shorter than the first, and things started to unravel a bit. The issues I was having with tone and language plagued me a little more. I admit, this isn’t Acheron-specific–this is something I’ve struggled with while reading other books in the series. But it was a bit more stark in Acheron because I couldn’t help comparing part two with the finesse of part one. The prose felt more bloated, and I was constantly irritated by the dialogue, wondering if people really talk like that. It wasn’t the slang or the snappy banter–I liked those–it was everything else. I felt like the author wasn’t getting the translation right between what she wanted the characters to say/do, and how they were saying/doing it. For example, after a road accident, one of the characters asks, “What happened to wreck us?” Seriously, do people talk like that? I mean, I’m genuinely asking because I usually assume some kind of US-Aussie English disconnect and that’s how I can let it go. It gets worse as the romance progresses and the author uses internal monologues–the italics, they burn. I was disappointed at the lack of subtlety, particularly since present day Ash was given fewer pages and I thought Kenyon could have pared down the prose and provided more opportunities to show the romance (rather than relying on internal angsting).
It’s not surprising that I skimmed a lot, lot more in this part. So much so that I actually took a break to kind of remember how much I loved the earlier parts of the story.
Mythology and the Dark-Hunters
I’m not sure I ever got the mythology right in my head, but since I wasn’t really trying, I think Kenyon simplifies it enough that it’s reasonably easy to follow. Towards the end, I felt a bit bludgeoned by past characters, but I can also understand that die-hard fans would want to see their favourite characters represented somehow. Some of the conflicts set up in the first part of the book seem all too easily if not mended then certainly glossed over in the second part. I’m thinking particularly of Ash and Styxx. I didn’t really buy the evolution of their relationship. Or maybe I just didn’t feel that it evolves enough in this particular book to support what the characters do. Even between Artemis and Ash, it seems like there’s a gap between where part one ends and part two begins and there’s no real bridge between the two. Essentially, I think the reader is expected to read the Dark-Hunter series to bridge that gap, which I suppose is fair enough. It’s not essential to reading Acheron’s book, but I reckon it would probably help.
Ash and his heroine
As for the romance, I had high hopes for it–their initial confrontation was, I thought, a good way to set up the conflict–but between the clunky prose, the need to close off the series arc, and the mass of characters crammed into part two, I think it got the short shrift. I mean, I was barracking for Ash and his heroine, and I was glad to see them together, and there were parts where I felt the chemistry, but on the whole, it felt rushed and lacking in polish. On the other hand, it reads more like her other Dark-Hunter novels, so if you love the series, you probably won’t be disappointed.
About halfway through part two, I began to question why, in the thousands of years that Ash has lived, this particular woman is the one who gets him. And to be honest, I’m not sure Kenyon answers that question to my satisfaction. The way she builds Ash’s relationships in part one and uses them to show how Ash’s character is formed isn’t mirrored in part two. I wanted her to build the relationship between Ash and his heroine, to show them in situations that would test them so I can understand why and how she breaks his barriers and how he rebuilds his assumptions about himself and about love. Instead, I felt like internal angsting was used as a shortcut instead of having them spend more time together, and revelations by other characters were used to speed up the heroine’s insight into Ash’s life.
Or to put it another way, I never even came close to tears.
As for the ending… Well, I’m not sure everyone would be completely happy with it. I’m pretty certain I’m not completely satisfied with it. It felt rushed, and there’s a bit of a deus ex machina vibe, although seeing as it’s based on Greek mythology, with gods playing a pivotal role, that’s probably not entirely inappropriate.
And now for some quick rants
What is with the fixation on Hershey’s freaking chocolates? Of all the chocolates in the world, much as I love Hershey’s kisses, they are not orgasmic. No, really, they’re not. Now, I can understand that if you’ve lived your whole life in the US, maybe it’s all you know and yes, it can hit your gastronomic G-spot, but if you’re a well-traveled archaeologist or a paranormal being who has lived through thousands of years and can teleport anywhere in the world, I would think that your tongue should be more discerning.
Also, I paid $40 for this book. Why do I have a to read a plug for another author and the Dark-Hunter website within the story? That is so uncool.
I found it strange that song lyrics were quoted but not noted in the copyright page.
Why does Ash have to look like a 21-year old? I just refuse to imagine him that way.
Yay or nay?
Oh, just buy the damn book. At over 700 pages, even the hardcover version isn’t a bad deal. If you like the Dark-Hunter books, you’ll probably love Acheron. If you’re squeamish, have tissues handy when you read the first part. If you just want to read the book so you can cure yourself of an unhealthy obsession with fictional characters, I’m not sure this will help. There is another series…
Note: This post was originally published on July 31, 2008.
Where you can buy this book
There are a few versions of this book around, so it’s worth shopping around to get the best price.
AUSTRALIA: Dymocks | Ever After | Galaxy | Intrigue | Rendezvous | Romance Direct | Romantic Reflections | Siren | More (no online catalogue) Psst … where are these stores?
DIGITAL BOOKS: Dymocks | Amazon Kindle
WORLDWIDE: Amazon US | Amazon UK