Thursday, August 30, 2018

Audiobook Review: Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Title: Styxx (Dark-Hunter #22)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Length: 31 hours, 7 minutes

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Just when you thought doomsday was over...

Centuries ago Acheron saved the human race by imprisoning an ancient evil bent on absolute destruction. Now that evil has been unleashed and it is out for revenge.

As the twin to Acheron, Styxx hasn’t always been on his brother’s side. They’ve spent more centuries going at each other’s throats than protecting their backs. Now Styxx has a chance to prove his loyalty to his brother, but only if he’s willing to trade his life and future for Acheron’s.

The Atlantean goddess of Wrath and Misery, Bethany was born to right wrongs. But it was never a task she relished. Until now. She owes Acheron a debt that she vows to repay, no matter what it takes. He will join their fellow gods in hell and nothing is going to stop her.

But things are never what they seem, and Acheron is no longer the last of his line. Styxx and Acheron must put aside their past and learn to trust each other or more will suffer.

Yet it’s hard to risk your own life for someone who once tried to take yours, even when it's your own twin, and when loyalties are skewed and no one can be trusted, not even yourself, how do you find a way back from the darkness that wants to consume the entire world? One that wants to start by devouring your very soul?

The last time I read a Dark Hunter book was in 2014. I read Acheron, then the novella that came next, then I joined the blogosphere and found YA and left the series for quite awhile. I actually LOVED Acheron and blew through it in a few days, despite it's over 700 pages. Frankly, I was worried that anything else in the series would be disappointing after that. The only other Dark Hunter book I've really wanted to pick up was Styxx, but it was daunting and I never found the time.

When I found the audiobook through Hoopla, I decided to give it a try, especially since Hoopla said it was only 10 hours long. (Narrator: it was not 10 hours long.) For whatever reason, when I opened the book and began listening, it was suddenly 31 hours long, but I discovered this at over an hour in and was invested, so I stuck it out. Styxx is told side by side with Acheron, telling the story we've already heard but from Styxx's perspective. I think I lucked out a bit because it had been so long since I read Acheron that I really didn't remember any key events, so it was all new to me.

The first thing I will say about Styxx is that it's even darker and more brutal than Acheron was, and honestly that part of the story really didn't work for me. Unfortunately, it was most of the story. This book needs just about every single trigger warning you can imagine. Styxx is kidnapped, raped, tortured emotionally and physically, and that's just to name a few. If this lasted a few chapters to build his character, I think I would have given it more of a pass. I mean, it's set during the time of the Greek gods and we all know how they are. Unfortunately, it lasted for about 3/4 of the book and I became exhausted with it very quickly.

I did love (some of) the gods, as always. I really enjoyed getting to know more about the Atlantean and Egyptian pantheons, and of course some of the Greek gods as well. Obviously, a lot of all of the pantheons were awful. I think the Egyptian gods were the only ones who were decent throughout the book. Apollo was even more horrible in this than in previous books and honestly his scenes were difficult to read at times.

Styxx's romance with Beth was also a highlight. I really loved reading about their relationship and, even though a lot of it was filled with dishonesty, it was done in a way that allowed me to still like the characters and have sympathy for them. I also adored the relationship between Styxx and his mentor. It was one of the only positive relationships in the entire book, so it wasn't difficult to love it.

Which brings me to my biggest issue with this book aside from the constant brutality: almost all of the relationship issues between Styxx and his family could be solved if he'd just have a conversation with them. Throughout almost the entire book, Styxx's sister, brother, father, and mother believe the absolute worst about him, which leads to endless torture for him. Does he ever correct them? Of course not. For whatever reason, he has the mindset that if they want to believe the worst, that's their loss, when it's actually HIS loss. Like, of his skin and dignity. He allows himself to be repeatedly beaten down and tortured rather then give his family the really easy to prove truth, over and over and over.

Overall, I didn't care for Styxx. I liked seeing Acheron and Simi again and I thought the ending was nice, but it wasn't enough to make up for the rest. I believe that a solid 3rd of this book could have been taken out and it would have had the same effect. We still would've gotten the idea that Styxx had lived a horrible life filled with torture and that no one loved or understood him, but without the extra few hundred pages of rape and beatings. I will give her another try with the next book in the series, but I'll definitely be wary of the next book in the Acheron and Styxx series.