"Acheron" by Sherrilyn Kenyon

So, at last, it's here -- the book many of us have waited years to read. Even those of us who have lost interest in the Dark-Hunters (I admit, I did) have trouble resisting this epic installment. I have mixed feelings about this book. Overall I give it a thumbs up and shall discuss that at the end of this review, but I have my complaints. Like all books burdened by high expectations, Acheron disappointed on a number of levels even though it kept me enthralled. Now, because of the high profile of this book I have more to say than usual, and there will be spoilers in this review, so please be warned.

Level One: Lost in Time. I'm not alone in saying the first part of the novel consumed too much of the overall book length. While crucial to the foundation of Ash's character, the first part (Ash's human life in 9000+ B.C.) became redundant after several hundred pages, and I was impatiently waiting to discover where it all was going. The present-day story was more interesting, to me, but sadly abbreviated. I mean, let's face it -- when setting out to read a book all about Acheron, what we're all really interested in is his love life. We want to see She Who Will Be His Honey. But as page 370 of 722 passes by we're still in B.C. land and there's the growing fear that the great love story will be a footnote in history.
Level Two: Beating a Dead Horse. In relation to Level One, Ash's abuse was drawn out just too far. At first, my heart broke and my eyes teared. I was completely involved. Then desensitization kicked in. The situation became unrealistic, with me thinking, "shouldn't he have seriously cracked already? How much more is she gonna put him through? Was this really necessary?" I appreciated the shift from subdued Ash to angry Ash, but with everything Kenyon was throwing at him, he should have been a complete nutcase, like Zarek on crack withdrawal.
Level Three: Respect the Narrative Flow. I was hoping to see snippets of Ash's life throughout the centuries, especially once I got the vibe of his trauma. It would have been a good way to see his adjustment and coping skills at work. Instead, the story jumps to present-day, suspiciously functional Ash. With an interlude -- still in the stone age -- that most if not all of us have probably already read three or more times and therefore resent the waste of prime real estate. Where's the transition?
Level Four: Assumed Awesomeness. Let me preface by stating, I love Tory; in fact, I think she's a fabulous character. I liked her immediately in Dream-Hunter and looked forward to the possibility that she'd be Ash's heroine, even though la mia amica E originally called that one. So, I like her, I just don't like how she was presented. There was so little foundation laid for her character, so little development. With Ash being the shiznet of Dark-Hunter heroes, it's reasonable that his lady love needs to be the shiznet of heroines. But Kenyon seriously underplayed her. If she had shaved off a hundred or so pages of Ash's abuse in trade for some added time with Tory I would have been much happier. I do give Kenyon her dues in writing a smart, funny, and admirable character; indeed, I'm saying Tory was so likable that I wanted more of her.
Level Five: Show and Tell. I suppose all my complaints can be generalized into what I like to call the Show & Tell Problem. Kenyon told when I wanted her to show. She told us about Ash's past more than she showed the impact of those events. Told us Tory was an incredible person instead of showing us how she won Ash's trust and love. For a comparison, read my ever favorite Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop. Specifically the character Daemon for this purpose, although I'll come up with any excuse to talk about Daemon. Like Acheron, Daemon was violently and sexually tortured, used as a sex slave since his childhood, yet he maintains a core of decency and hope. What Anne Bishop does so brilliantly with Daemon is she conveys his pain, rage, fear, shame, bitterness, and hate without overplaying her hand and bathing the pages in his misery. As a result, I'll reread her books tirelessly, picking up all the nuances of what is shown but not described. A little more subtlety, some craftiness, would have tempered all those raw emotions and extreme situations Kenyon gave us into a complex sort of story that spurs me into multiple rereads. As it is, I feel like all the cards are on the table and I needn't revisit this book for a long time.
Now that I've probably convinced you that I hated this book, I really didn't. For two days my nose was lost in its pages with fixed attention, and I'll rate the reading experience right up there with Deathly Hallows. I suppose some disappointment was fated, considering how long we've waited and how high expectations were. Simply because it's Ash, though, this book was worth reading. And the sheer coolness factor that is Tory, the emotional roller coaster created, the answers to long-asked questions... this book is a need-to-read among fantasy/paranormal romance readers. Best of all was finally having complete insight into Ash's relationship with Artemis. If anything justifies the heavy B.C. concentration, it's that. Artemis is given depth beyond heifer goddessness, having the paradoxic result of making her seem less and yet more of a bitch that she did in prior books.

So, I summarize and say, "I enjoyed it." If you haven't read it, give it a go.


  1. Hey. Imabookworm here. Just wanted to say that I LOVE the Faefever widget. When I told you that I had picked up some new favorites from your blog, I was definitely talking about KMM. Can't wait! Also, I too have Acheron but for some reason haven't read it yet. I didn't read your review so as to not see any spoilers lurking about but I'm definitely looking forward to reading all 700+ pages. TTYL

  2. Hey, thanks for popping in. It's funny... just that day my friend and I had been trying to work out how many days until the 16th (in our own lazy way), then I found that widget while browsing other book blogs. I had to have it, even if it meant adding yet more clutter to my blog. It gives me great joy every time I look at it. And -- omigod -- don't you absolutely love KMM? I have fantasies about Dageus, Adam, and Barrons all in a pretty row. Tee hee.

  3. Just thought I'd put my own psychological perspective here...and it's a spoiler. Kenyon never really addresses the fact that Ash's sexual experience is still muddled with past abuse. It's a pretty horrific feeling to have a mental abuse flashback while being with your lover. I hope we get to see more of his development and that he gets healthier in future books.

    P.S. Kenyon needs to step away for a while and take a break.

    P.P.S. I looove me some Barrons.

    P.P.P.S. I knew it was Tory!!!


  4. More spoilers!

    Y'know, I was totally expecting to see Ash working through some of those issues with Tory, like the breath on the neck thing. I know that, supposedly, that was done with the people at his back thing, but wasn't that just a little too pat for you? Like, "oh, didn't you know he hates that?" and "oh, I couldn't tell." Because WE couldn't tell, either. Just this inner musing of, "oh, that should really bug me but for some reason I don't mind having her sitting behind me and being plastered all over my oft-abused back even though I just totally had a bad moment back at the gym and should probably be a little jumpy right now." Hmph.

  5. Hey, I'm back and I've finally read Acheron. I finished it the other day and I'm still trying to digest it all. It's a good thing I'm a complete sucker for romances like this because I don't think I would have finished it otherwise. The first half of it is a heartbreaker. And, even though I read Dream Hunter (wasn't a favorite) Tory wasn't on my radar. Despite all the heaviness of the book I loved it. Interesting how the biggest, baddest mother in the universe is the most emotionally vulnerable of all the characters in her books. Of course, 11,000 years of Artemis screwing with his head doesn't help. I loved how Tory put Artemis in her place at the end. About time.

  6. Jen -- you encourage my belief that at least a fifth of the book should have focused on Tory the way it focused on Ash. By the end of the book she's this total kick-ass, got-it-together girl-stud... and we don't really get to see where it all comes from! Surely Kenyon could have shaved off some whipping scenes to give Tory some more development. Especially since, like you, I only made it through the first half because I was wanted to see the love story unfold. Even if it more kinda burst open like a pop-up book than unfolded.