Thursday, November 20, 2008

Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

As promised yesterday I'm going to post my thoughts on recently finishing SK's Acheron.
For those of you who've been living in a hole, or possibly under some sort of rock, Kenyon's Dark Hunter series has been hitting best seller's lists for several years now.
The story revolves around the Dark Hunters fighting a war against Daimons (who are a little like vampires but absorb people's souls, not their blood) and ever since that very first book there's been Acheron, the Dark Hunters' mysterious leader. Fans have been waiting for Acheron's book for a long, long time.
The first books were great. You couldn't put them down. But with every book came a new set of characters. There was the Were-Hunters, beings that were either born as animals and could change into humans (called the Katagaria) or beings that were born as humans and could change into animals (called the Arcadians). Then we wanted to know their stories, several of which Kenyon wrote. After that there were the Dream-Hunters, which I wasn't so keen to hear about given that there were already so many different factions. But I bought and read the first Dream Hunter book she wrote and for the first time I was disappointed. The book was a mere shadow of what she'd achieved in the past.
After that, several of the later Dark Hunter books took the same road, and I started feeling like (for me at least) Kenyon had lost something. I skipped a couple of books (which is totally unlike me when I love a series. I do plan on reading them one day, but I'm not going out of my way to get them) and then came Acheron. I knew I had to read it. How could I not? It was my sincere hope that by going back to the start, back to the source of all the Dark-Hunters, she would recapture that which made me love this series in the first place.
The book was set out in two parts. The first, about Acheron's life as a human. Or a god, as it turned out. It was tragic, it was sad, and I couldn't put it down. It compelled me to read and read and read, just like those first Dark Hunter books way back did. And then I came to the second part, set in the present day. I hated to see it, but it all fell apart. Once again, this story was only a shade of what she'd done previously. I wasn't compelled to keep reading it until my eyes fell out, it was quite easy to leave it for another time or do something else in the interim. Some of it (in my opinion, and mine only) didn't seem true to what we knew of Acheron in the other DH books. Some of it seemed to contrived. Some of it seemed to be obviously trying to tell us something we already knew and just kept at it and at it like we were being force-fed the information. I finished it so I would know what happened in the end, but I suppose it was nothing to what I'd expected.
I know that I'm being way harsh on Ms. Kenyon. That's the problem when you write something so brilliant, the next time you don't, you've got so far to fall. Adding to the fact that this book had been anticipated for years and years, there wasn't much room to move.
In saying that I sympathize with Kenyon (and I don't envy her position. Sure, I want to be an author, I want people to read my stories, but I hate the thought that one year I might write a book that everyone loves only to write one the following year that disappoints. Keeping a readership happy is an onerous task I imagine) I have to also say that I'm a little frustrated by her. To my knowledge (and please, someone correct me if I'm wrong) she has never finished a single series she's started writing, both as SK and writing as Kinley MacGregor. There was the MacAllister brothers, which I loved, never finished. There was the Brotherhood of the Sword, which has one of my favourite books ever, but never finished. I suppose she's going to write what she's contracted too write, what she wants to write (she is a best-selling author, so I guess she can do what she wants!) and what's going to sell the best. I'd just like once completed series, but it seems the DH books are likely to keep going and going. I just don't know if I will.
Song: I Don't Care by Fallout Boy

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