A review by Evie Kendal
If you are a paranormal romance fan and happen to have been living under a rock for the past 12 years you may not have heard of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series. That really is the only excuse for not having consumed them all by now. However, if you need convincing before embarking on this massive reading commitment, what follows this section is a review of the series thus far, with minimal spoilers.
Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series is a must read for any serious paranormal romance fan. In addition to the novels reviewed above there are also a number of short stories collected in anthologies that are worth reading, particularly the one focusing on the Were Hunter, Fury. While the major developments of the short stories are reiterated where required in the main text, it is nice to get the whole story. The Dark-Hunter Companion is also a worthy purchase and Kenyon provides updates for many of her characters through their online blogs.
Although there are a lot of books to catch up on if you are a new reader, most of them are very quick to get through. I averaged around 3 hours for a Dark-Hunter novel (with the exception of Bad Moon Rising and Acheron) and just over an hour for each installment of the Chronicles of Nick. Although every reader will have some books they favour over others, overall the quality of the series is worth the time investment.
Editor’s note — Below, Evie mentions ‘torture porn’ and sexual abuse in some of the adult novels. The adult novels may contain explicit sex scenes. Apparently the YA (Young Adult) novels are a ‘lower rating’. Readers concerned with potential triggers should read Evie’s comments below before deciding to read the novels.
Books covered below (click on any title for a shortcut to Evie’s comments on that book):
- Fantasy Lover
- Night Pleasures
- Night Embrace
- Dance with the Devil
- Kiss of the Night
- Night Play
- Seize the Night
- Sins of Night
- Unleash the Night
- Dark Side of the Moon
- Dream Hunter
- Devil May Cry
- Upon the Midnight Clear
- Dream Chaser
- One Silent Night
- Dream Warrior
- Bad Moon Rising
- Chronicles of Nick: Infinity
- No Mercy
- Chronicles of Nick: Invincible
- The Guardian
- Chronicles of Nick: Infamous
- Time Untime
This is a tricky book to categorise. Although often listed as Book One of the Dark-Hunter series it doesn’t quite match the rest of the series. What links this novel to the rest of the series is the main character, Julian of Macedon, an ancient Greek general cursed by the gods and trapped in the pages of a book for eternity. (This character is personally acquainted with many of the immortal Dark Hunters from ancient Greece and Rome, thus the connection.)
Julian is only freed from his book when a spell is cast that temporarily returns him to the real world….where he must serve as a sex slave to whomever released him. This element of the story is disturbingly rapey, and after 2000 years Julian has long resigned himself to an existence of imprisonment with occasional bouts of sexual abuse.
Enter Grace Alexander.
Concerned for Grace’s non-existent love life, her friend Selena decides to “invoke” a boyfriend for her from an ancient tome that is rumoured to contain a cursed ancient warrior. Grace doesn’t for a moment think this will work and is justifiably shocked when Julian does manifest in her home, expecting to serve as her sex slave. However, Grace is the first woman to free him who doesn’t treat him as a walking vibrator, even allowing him to leave the bedroom! And wear clothing! In short, she treats him as a person. Instead of using him, Grace starts to research how she can free Julian from his curse. Julian is, predictably, very grateful…
This is the first of the true Dark-Hunter novels (inasmuch as it actually contains a Dark Hunter and introduces the mythology for the series). The fictional world of the Dark-Hunter universe is essentially a contemporary America with a secret paranormal nightlife. The major players at this point are the Dark Hunters and Daimons. Dark Hunters are immortal warriors who sold their souls to the Goddess Artemis in exchange for a single act of revenge upon whomever betrayed and killed them in their mortal lives. Dark Hunters protect humans from Daimons, whose origin story is a little more complex.
Artemis’s brother, the God Apollo, created a species to rival humans, known as the Apollites. When his creations later murdered his mistress and child, Apollo cursed the whole race to die horribly on their 27th birthday, the age his mistress was when she died. Unwilling to surrender to this fate, many Apollites resorted to draining the blood of humans and absorbing their souls in order to prolong their own lives. When an Apollite takes its first human life in this way, it is considered to have turned Daimon. Human souls that reside too long in the body of a Daimon die before they can pass to the afterlife, thereby motivating the Dark Hunters to kill the Daimons in order to release the souls inside it.
Night Pleasures is the story of Kyrian of Thrace, an ancient Greek general who was betrayed and murdered by his wife and her lover. As a result he sold his soul to Artemis and became a Dark Hunter (which involves growing fangs for reasons never really adequately explained in the series, as unlike the fanged Daimons, Dark Hunters do not drink blood). Like most of the protagonists of the early books in the Dark-Hunter series, Kyrian’s murder was particularly gruesome and is described in great detail.
While the Dark Hunters ultimately answer to Artemis, their immediate superior is Acheron, nicknamed Ash, who describes himself as a people wrangler. (The mystery surrounding what Ash really is makes up the overarching story arc of a large portion of the series.) Many Dark Hunters have human assistants, called Squires, who take care of their daily needs, since Dark Hunters cannot be in sunlight. Kyrian’s Squire is the loud-mouthed teenager Nick Gautier, who ends up being one of the most important characters in the Dark-Hunter universe.
While Kyrian was acquainted with Julian in his human past, the female lead in Night Pleasures, Amanda Devereaux, is Selena’s sister. So although you can certainly enter the Dark-Hunter series with Kyrian and Amanda’s tale, you may not understand parts of Amanda’s family life without having first read Fantasy Lover.
Amanda is an accountant who does not believe in the paranormal despite having eight sisters who do. In fact, her entire family tree is full of self-professed psychics, empaths, witches, etc. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up handcuffed to a sexy vampire who claims to be an immortal ancient warrior…
This novel is sometimes accused of having too many characters taking attention away from the main couple. What I found most impressive about this book and in the entire Dark-Hunter series, is how Kenyon manages to remember all her characters, their backstories, unique supernatural powers and relationships. Although there are a lot of new faces in this novel, I didn’t find this detracted from the romance plot.
Night Embrace is the story of former Celtic druid and current Dark Hunter, Talon, and his human manic pixie dream-girl, Sunshine Runningwolf. The story is set during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, for which Ash has called for Dark Hunter reinforcements to fight the Daimons who will be on the streets hunting unsuspecting revelers. Since Dark Hunters cannot be in close contact with each other without draining each other’s powers, these hunters are spaced out across the city – much to the relief of all those too terrified to work anywhere near the psychotic Dark Hunter, Zarek!
Sunshine meets Talon when Daimons attack her and he has to rescue her. She then takes him home to recover from his injuries and they pretty much immediately hook up. Thus, the narrative tension of this novel is less about getting together than staying together as both characters have serious relationship baggage from previous romantic entanglements. (Case in point, Talon actually lives across an alligator-infested moat in order to avoid company!)
Consistent with the mythology set forth in Night Pleasures, if Sunshine wants to prove her love she will need to return Talon’s soul. While it is some time before readers learn how he does it, Ash is able to reclaim Dark Hunter’s souls from Artemis and entrust them to those who wish to return them. At this point the lover must drain the power from the Dark Hunter and hold their burning soul in their bare hands until it is time to place it over the mark of Artemis, a double bow and arrow imprinted on all Artemis’s hunters when they sell their soul. If the soul is dropped is it forever lost. In short, this is not the kind of procedure you want performed by anyone with commitment issues…
Dance with the Devil
This novel focuses on the exiled Dark Hunter, Zarek, as he awaits justice for his crimes. As it turns out “justice” takes the form of the nymph, Astrid, sister to the Fates and the judge of whether Zarek deserves to be executed for murdering the human villagers he was sworn to protect 900 years ago. Oh, and did I mention justice is blind?
Still one of my favourite Dark-Hunter novels, Dance with the Devil has an incorrigible male lead who despite being irreverent, disobedient and smart-mouthed just wants to know the truth about what really happened the night he was exiled. Did he really kill those villagers? Is he insane? Is he a threat to everyone around him, including the beautiful justice nymph Ash demands he spends time with in his Alaskan home?
Astrid has never judged a being “not guilty” and has given up hope that people can be decent. She agrees to take Zarek’s case as a personal favour for Ash but finds Zarek’s gruff behaviour and serious attitude problem rather intimidating. Her job is to determine Zarek’s guilt by examining his past, including his mortal life as a slave to an ancient Roman family (one member of which is still alive – or rather undead – in the form of a Dark Hunter named Valerius, who is Zarek’s worst enemy). With her shape-shifting wolf as protection, Astrid has to live in close quarters with Zarek…and since she is blinded when on a case she has to feel her away around…
Kiss of the Night
This is the novel where the creation of Apollites and Daimons is fully explained because the love interest is a 26-year-old half-Apollite named Cassandra, who is about to have to face the choice of enduring a horrible death or turning Daimon by stealing the life and soul of a human. Either decision is likely to cause a problem with her new love, Dark Hunter, Wulf Tryggvason.
A former Viking warrior, Wulf is cursed to be forgotten — literally. With the exception of blood relatives and some of the more powerful Dark Hunters, no one remembers Wulf five minutes after leaving his company until he meets Cassandra who, for some reason, can remember him in spite of the curse. For the first time in his long post-life existence, Wulf has the opportunity to establish a long-term relationship and maybe even a shot at reclaiming his soul. Unfortunately, Cassandra may not live long enough to be able to help him.
As if being on opposite sides of the immortal war wasn’t hard enough, Cassandra and Wulf must also deal with the fact that as the last direct descendant of the God Apollo, if Cassandra dies the world ends! Faced with the choice of killing some humans to survive or refusing and dooming all of human- and Apollite-kind, non-consequentialist Cassandra is having a really rough time. Nothing but a deus ex machina could bring this tale its happy ending…
This is the first of the Were-Hunter novels, which are not considered a spin-off but rather a part of the Dark-Hunter series with a different focus. Kenyon herself notes that the designation is more about marketing than anything else. Although various Dark Hunter characters appear in all the Were-Hunter books, the main couple will always contain a shape-shifter.
There are various animal shifters in the Dark-Hunter universe, including tigers, bears and wolves to name a few. Apart from their species, shifters are also separated according to what their dominant form is. The Katagaria are animals who can shift into humans, while Arcadians are humans who can shift into animals. These two groups do not get along and each side has a warrior class that hunt rogue members of the opposing side – Katagarian Strati hunt rogue Arcadians, and Arcadian Sentinels hunt Katagarian slayers. There is a complex hierarchy in each shifter class, roughly approximating the order of the related animal species.
The origin story of the Weres is connected to that of the Daimons. The King of Arcadia, married to an Apollite, watched his wife die horribly at age 27 and realised his half-Apollite sons would meet the same fate. Using dark magic he spliced the essence of his sons with animals so they could outlive Apollo’s curse. The result of merging one Apollite with one animal was the creation of one animal-hearted Katagaria and one human-hearted Arcadian.
Each shifter has a soul mate, chosen by the Fates, who will be revealed by a burning mark appearing on the bodies of both parties following a sexual encounter. At this point the shifter is “mated” and will never be able to have sex with anyone else for as long as their mate lives. The lover is given a short period of time to decide whether they want to accept the mating and if they wish to bond their life force with the shifter. This will usually grant the lover a much longer life span but also means that when one of the bonded pair die, the other dies along with them.
Night Play is the story of Vane Kattalakis, a wolf Katagaria who shifted to an Arcadian during puberty. Hiding both this and his status as a Sentinel from his family, Vane was eventually tortured and left for dead anyway, since his father held him responsible for the death of his sister. Vane escaped, also saving his brother, Fang, who was left comatose from the prolonged torture inflicted on them. Seeing no alternative, Vane decided to take his brother to Sanctuary, a bar run by Were-Bears, to give him a safe place to hopefully recover.
In the Dark-Hunter universe a “sanctuary” is a protected place where all paranormal beings can claim refuge, as sanctioned by the all-powerful Savitar, a creature with the power to destroy Gods if they step out of line. For as long as Vane and Fang hide within the walls of Sanctuary bar, no one can harm them without bringing the full force of Savitar’s wrath down on themselves. However, Vane has a bit of a temper and it isn’t long before he has been banished from Sanctuary for fighting and is on the run from his pack.
Bride McTierney meets Vane when he buys the $623.84 necklace she’s been wistfully eyeing off in her jewellery store… and then gives it to her! Having just been dumped by her boyfriend via FedEx, Bride is wary of all men but Vane looks like a particularly yummy male. Unfortunately the basis of their relationship doesn’t go a whole lot deeper than that, but it’s still an interesting story.
Vane is emotionally exhausted from his family’s betrayal and caring for his brother… Now he has to deal with the possibility of life-long impotence if his inconveniently timed mate decides he’s too much dog for her…
Seize the Night
This is the story of the Dark Hunter Valerius, a former, and much-hated, ancient Roman general and aristocrat. An enemy of Kyrian in life and belonging to the family that abused Zarek, Valerius is used to being outcast by other Dark Hunters, many of whom were ancient Greeks and resent his heritage. Raised by a wealthy Roman senator, Val was trained to be ruthless to his enemies and to show no compassion for the less fortunate. However, Zarek and the other Dark Hunters never saw how disappointed his father was in him.
A very important side story begins in this book that will eventually turn into the Chronicles of Nick young adult series. The catalyst for this story is the meeting between Nick Gautier and Simi, whom Acheron considers his adopted daughter. A disagreement ensues between Ash and Nick… Words are spoken in the heat of the moment… When a powerful creature like Ash doesn’t watch what he says, he can change someone’s destiny. As a result of this argument Ash and Nick start to become enemies. Meanwhile, back to Val and Tabby…
Val lives in isolation and his aristocratic habits make him appear supercilious. It is believed that if Kyrian were to come across him he would murder him where he stood, despite the fact this would enrage Artemis and drive her to kill Kyrian. It is for this reason that Tabitha Devereaux, twin sister of Amanda, Kyrian’s wife, decides not to report Val’s injuries to her brother-in-law after Val saves her life. Instead she calls Nick to help her get Val to safety. Nick is unimpressed by this request and finds it quite telling that no one else would be willing to help this man, including his own Squire, Otto.
The unkempt Tabitha and her outrageous behaviour horrify Val as she pokes fun at his solitary and organized life. Having trained herself as a vampire hunter, she fights the same Daimons he is sworn to fight but without any of his Goddess-given strength and healing ability. However, she’s the only person interested in his side of the story regarding both Kyrian and Zarek…
Sins of the Night
This novel features Alexion, a Shade and the right-hand man of Acheron. Shades are the soulless, incorporeal being resulting from a soul being “dropped” before it is returned to a Dark Hunter. Acheron feels guilty that he entrusted Alexion’s soul to a woman who didn’t truly love him so he rescued Alexion from eternal suffering to make Alexion his personal assassin. (When a Dark Hunter breaks “the code” Alexion investigates and, where required, executes.)
Danger is the first Dark Huntress to play a large role in one of the novels. Alexion is sent to investigate her group of hunters and she recognises that he is a major threat. As Danger has been fed some lies about Ash, the reader gets to learn some more of his story as she is set straight.
More important than the developments in Ash’s character is the insight into Simi’s upbringing. The Simi is a Charonte demon who is bound to Acheron and usually resides on his skin as a moving tattoo. When she does separate from him she either takes the form of a teenage punk girl or manifests as her demon self, complete with horns and wings. Like Artemis, Simi’s language skills are limited, leading to many funny mispronunciations and mixed metaphors. The Simi is viciously loyal to Ash and likes to eat his enemies — preferably covered in BBQ sauce. Alexion has helped raise the Simi at Ash’s home in some form of alternate dimension.
While many fans were dissatisfied with the ending of this novel, I liked it better than some of the other overly miraculous endings present in earlier books of the series. Whether it classifies as an unambiguously happy ending is up to the individual reader to decide.
Unleash the Night
This is the Were-Hunter novel in which the backstory of one of the waiters at Sanctuary is explored. Wren Tigarian is the result of a forbidden mating between a snow leopard and a white tiger, and as such is considered an abomination and has had to hide at Sanctuary most of his life. He is withdrawn, isolated, and his one friend is a loyal monkey, Marvin, that sits on his shoulder while he cleans tables.
Marguerite is the daughter of a wealthy U.S. senator and totally doesn’t fit into his ordered world. A little more wild at heart, Maggie is obviously drawn to the Sanctuary bar where human clients are kept in the dark about the otherworldly creatures frequenting the same establishment. She is humiliated by how her wealthy friends treat the wait staff, including Wren, and tries to apologise to him afterward. Despite never talking to anyone, Wren feels compelled to converse with Maggie…
Dark Side of the Moon
Ravyn Kontis is a feline Were-Hunter who was betrayed and killed before crossing over to become a Dark Hunter. Not fully belonging to either code he is an outcast from both. Disinherited by his family, Ravyn lives in isolation and spends his nights hunting rogue Katagaria, Arcadians and Daimons alike.
While not one of the more memorable characters in the series, Ravyn ends up being quite influential. When Nick needs training and isn’t willing to have Ash involved, Savitar calls on Ravyn to step in. However, during this novel he is just trying to find out who is messing him and his shifter powers.
Susan Michaels was a famous reporter until she got duped. Now she works for a small newspaper and has to chase down crazy stories like the one about an animal shelter owner who keeps ranting about vampires! Somehow, despite her allergies, the owner manages to convince Susan to adopt a cat…
The Dream Hunter
This is the first of the Dream-Hunter novels, a designation serving the same purpose as the Were-Hunter label but, again, not delineating a different series. Dream Hunters are a class of being known as the Oneroi, descendants of the Greek Gods of sleep. These hunters help Dark and Were Hunters heal while they are sleeping and also assist with communication between the hunters and the Gods. While I find the Dream-Hunter stories generally less interesting than the other stories in the series, they do have some bright moments.
After playing a trick on Zeus the Oneroi were cursed to feel no emotion and to lose their individuality. Since then Oneroi can only feel when they are traversing a human’s dream. If an Oneroi spends too long in a single human’s mind they end up harming them. Those who feed on humans’ dreams are termed Skoti. Dream Hunters hunt Skoti in order to protect humans. Throughout the sub-series the nature of Zeus’s curse and its gradual recession is a recurrent theme.
Arik is a Dream Hunter who has made a pact with Hades to become a mortal man for two weeks in exchange for a human soul. More specifically, in exchange for the soul of Megeara, the woman who is trying to prove the existence of the lost city of Atlantis. The Gods have distinct reasons for not wanting the human world to learn of the location of the sunken city. Megeara is more determined than the others they have misdirected and sabotaged before. Arik finds her dreams and imagination intoxicating…
Devil May Cry
This book is set in Las Vegas and follows the former ancient Sumerian God, Sin, as he fights to regain his Godhood from Artemis who tricked him and stole it. While trying to come up with a way for a Dark Hunter to seek revenge on the Goddess they all serve, Sin must also fight the gallu, demons his pantheon once defeated and bound.
Like many of the other demon species introduced into the Dark-Hunter universe, the gallu have special powers. Unfortunately these powers transfer to Daimons if they feed on them – a fact which will become relevant later in the series.
For the time being, Sin is concerned with the fact that if a gallu bites you, they turn you into their slave.
It is not possible to say anything about Sin’s love interest, Katya, without giving away major spoilers. Suffice it to say Katya has a very powerful lineage so Sin had better treat her right…
Upon the Midnight Clear
This novel is one of the more interesting Dream-Hunter books and focuses on the disillusioned former celebrity turned hermit, Aidan O’Connor. While angsting at the world and particularly the brother who betrayed him, Aidan is shocked when the beautiful Leta appears on his doorstep. Some company might not be so bad!
Leta is an Oneroi Goddess and was responsible for hunting down and trapping the God of Pain, Dolor. After her victory she placed herself in stasis to recover from the duel, only to be awoken if Dolor ever escaped. Stupid humans will forever be invoking powers they can’t control…
Dolor taunts Leta and she sees his target – Aidan. Sensing he is already suffering immensely, Leta realises she can feed on Aidan’s emotions to give herself the power to defeat Dolor. After all, one human sacrifice is better than allowing the God of Pain to terrorise all humanity… right?
An intriguing choice of lead character, Dream Chaser focuses on a Phobotory Skotos (those who feed on human fear) named Xypher, who has been given a one-month reprieve from his eternal torture in Tartarus in exchange for assisting Sin in defeating the gallu demons. He needs to perform one good deed if he wants to avoid returning to damnation. However, Xypher is more interested in getting revenge on the woman who betrayed him, Satara, sister to the Daimon leader, Stryker.
This book also provides some information about Jaden. Like Acheron and Savitar it is clear this character will be a big player in the series. Although extremely powerful, Jaden is imprisoned and controlled by others. He brokers deals with otherworldly beings and accepts payment in souls, virgins… all the usual currencies. Xypher calls on him to assist him in regaining the powers he lost when Hades turned him mortal.
Satara flees to her brother’s domain to hide from Xypher and they come up with a plan to kill Xypher while he is on Earth. Satara has obtained a pair of mystical gold bands that can bind the life force of a god to another being. If that other being is killed this also kills the otherwise-immortal bound god. Furthermore, once the cuffs are placed on the two victims, they must remain within a certain proximity or they both die.
Simone Dubois can communicate with the dead…well, more accurately they communicate with her against her wishes. Over the years she’s learned to cope with a constant stream of the dearly departed haunting her, but she has never understood why she has this power. She has no interest in the supernatural. Then she finds herself bound to Xypher who must protect her as the weakest link…
The book fans were waiting for, Acheron explains the backstory of the first Dark Hunter, 11,000 year-old Ash. Much longer than the other books of the series, the first three quarters can be effectively summed up as “torture-porn.”
Although the narrative certainly explains in great detail who and what Ash is and how he came to be the way he is, I found the length of the historical part of this novel too much. Those wanting to skip the gruesome details of his human life as a sex slave or the first few thousand years as the only Dark Hunter protecting humanity can safely move on to the “Present Day” section of the book where the romance plot begins.
All you really need to know from the first part is that Ash has justifiable trust issues – everyone, and I do mean everyone, he has ever loved has either betrayed him horribly or been murdered to spite him. In short, with the exception of being granted Simi as a 21st birthday present, his life before contemporary times truly sucked.
Soteria, nicknamed Tory, was a fellow archaeologist searching for the lost city of Atlantis with Megeara. She doesn’t understand why Geary just gave up on the search after meeting Arik but she is determined to finish the search and restore the honour of her family. She has devoted her entire life to pursuing this goal, exchanging the prospect of dates and boyfriends for accelerated studies and a doctoral degree at a record young age.
While giving an academic presentation on her research, Tory is ridiculed by a tall, handsome stranger (Ash). She is furious! He is trying to discredit her! And why is he so dismissive of the beautiful redhead (Artemis) who follows him around? Unfortunately, it turns out this pompous jerk is the only guy who can read ancient Atlantean and she needs him to help translate an artefact she found on one of her expeditions.
Ash is deeply disturbed to find that Tory has uncovered the diary of someone who knew him in his former life. He cannot risk her discovering the true location of Atlantis and he needs to know what’s in that diary so he offers to teach her Atlantean. Although Ash can usually see into the minds and futures of everyone around him, the notable exception is when that person is inextricably linked to his own future. This makes him wonder why he can’t see Tory’s future…
One Silent Night
This novel focuses on the leader of the Daimons, Stryker, and his ex-wife Zephyra. Stryker is the son of Apollo. Due to his hatred of his father, he is currently sworn to serve Apollo’s greatest enemy, the Atlantean Goddess Apollymi, the Destroyer.
The imprisoned Apollymi is the reason Atlantis must never be discovered by humans, as her release would signal the end of the world. Stryker hates everyone, but particularly Acheron: despite being the cause of Apollymi’s captivity, Acheron is still her favourite.
Zephyra’s favourite pastime is torturing people, including her ex-husband. They have a daughter Medea and a son Urian, who will play a significant role in the Dark-Hunter series. Apollymi taught Daimons the method of consuming human souls to escape death however Zephrya wasn’t around to benefit from this knowledge. Instead she learnt that by killing a gallu demon that had fed on her, she not only absorbed its life force but also gained custody of the demons under its control.
Stryker is planning to eliminate all the Dark Hunters so Artemis sends Zephyra in to deal with him first. Tricked into giving Stryker “another chance” Zephyra has to live with him for two weeks. Both priding themselves on embodying the epitome of evil, Stryker and Zephyra are proof that sometimes the phrase opposites attract does not apply…
The son of the gods Warcraft and Hate, Cratus was a mighty warrior until he was exiled for disobeying an order from Zeus. Now going by the name of Jericho and still cursed to never-ending pain, he doesn’t care about anything anymore. Not even when the fate of the world rests on his joining the fight against the malevolent Noir, a powerful being preying on creatures through the dream world.
Delphine is a Dream Hunter who has been tasked with bringing Cratus in to help lead the other Oneroi against their new enemy by any means necessary – sexy seduction means preferable! The daughter of Leta, Delphine is the step-child of Aidan O’Connor. There are also a number of other connections to other characters of the series and like all Dark-Hunter novels many other gods, goddesses, Dark Hunters, Were Hunters and Dream Hunters and their partners are present.
While this has caused frustration for some fans particularly at this point, I believe Kenyon does a masterful job of reminding readers where everyone fits in when they pop up. The number of characters and mythologies she has in the series is impressive. Stories continue for each couple beyond their initial happily-ever-after. For example, even though there may only be one throw-away sentence added in a later book, this may tell the reader that couple so-and-so just had a baby, or have moved to a different state, etc. Not to mention that Kenyon can’t be held responsible for the complex (and often inbred) relationships between the members of the ancient pantheons as those far pre-date her series!
Bad Moon Rising
This Were-Hunter novel tells the story of Fang Kattalakis (Vane’s brother) and Were-Bear, Aimee Peltier (daughter of Nicolette, the proprietor of the Sanctuary bar where Fang has been staying while comatose).
The Fang-Aimee relationship has been in the background of several other Dark-Hunter novels and short stories by this stage. Although I really liked the coupling I found this novel quite disappointing and difficult to get through.
Essentially most of the book is just reprints of the sections of previous novels related to this relationship, sometimes from a slightly different perspective. The overall sensation when reading the book is one of déjà vu. The sections that were new were very good though.
This novel begins what will be another sub-series, the Hellchaser books. Already explored in some of the Dark-Hunter short stories, Hellchasers hunt demons. There is also a lot more detail provided for the Were-Hunter society and the ruling class known as the Omegrion in particular.
Grace Alexander (the therapist from Fantasy Lover) has been asked many times by Vane to figure out what is wrong with Fang, and she can only say that he will recover “when he wants to.” It appears that Fang’s desire to return to the waking world has a lot to do with his forbidden crush on Aimee. While Aimee’s family disapprove of the match – in the extreme – they will also make the ultimate sacrifice to help Aimee get the wolf of her dreams…
Chronicles of Nick: Infinity
Kenyon has noted that the Chronicles of Nick young adult series can be read as a prequel or sequel to the Dark-Hunter novels. However, to get the most out of these books I recommend reading them interspersed with the main series.
By the time this series was started, Nick Gautier had become a major threat in the Dark-Hunter story. With powers that were hidden during his adolescence, Nick is now a dark, powerful enemy. Aligned with Stryker, Nick is determined to take down Acheron, whom he holds responsible for recent tragedies in his life, and Artemis, who refused to take his soul as payment for revenge on Ash.
It is nice to pick up the light-hearted Chronicles of Nick at this point and remember what Nick was like when he was still Kyrian’s Squire and Ash’s best friend. Beginning when Nick is 14 years old, Infinity tells the story of how Nick was rescued by Kyrian and given a real job. Nick’s mother is also taken care of, finally able to leave her job as an exotic dancer in exchange for a waitressing position at Sanctuary bar. So far the narrative is consistent with known facts of Nick’s past from the main story.
It isn’t long before readers will notice this is actually an alternate history. A future Nick, going by the name Ambrose, is interfering with his own past in order to avert an apocalypse Nick will begin in the Dark-Hunter series. Kenyon has stated that although the two stories appear to be conflicting at present that they will resolve into a single timeline and that the events in the Dark-Hunter novels are Nick’s “true” life. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.
Driven by his need for revenge on Ash, Nick is destined to destroy everything he loves, unless Ambrose can change things. One of the first changes he makes is to release Nick’s powers early. Unfortunately this draws all sorts of otherworldly creatures toward him, including zombies, vampires and demons. Fighting these while learning how to control his powers and avoid being grounded by his mum becomes Nick’s new reality.
Other changes include Nick meeting Simi when he is a teenager instead of later as an adult, and the introduction of a mysterious girl, Nekoda, who even Ambrose doesn’t remember. A relevant flashback to Seize the Night here would remind readers that although Nick claims to have no idea who Simi is when they meet in this novel, Tabitha notes that Simi already knows him. It is possible changing the time of their original meeting will alter the circumstances that led to Nick’s falling out with Ash.
It is possible to read Chronicles of Nick independent of the main series so for younger audiences for whom the sometimes graphic violence and sex of the Dark-Hunter series may be inappropriate, this is a good alternative. The humour and overall flavour is the same but the relationship issues are of the sort typically associated with puberty, rather than millennia of brooding isolation…
After Bad Moon Rising I was wary of this Were-Hunter novel, however I was pleasantly surprised by a return to form for the series.
No Mercy focuses on Aimee Peltier’s brother, Dev, the Were-Bear security guard for the Sanctuary bar. Following recent family tragedy and the loss of their “sanctuary” status, Dev’s job is harder than ever, particularly as it appears Daimons are now walking in daylight!
Sent to investigate the outrageous claims of day-walking Daimons, former Amazonian warrior and current Dark Huntress, Samia, is immediately drawn to Dev’s playful attitude. However, relationships of any kind are almost impossible for Samia since her Goddess-given gift is that of psychometry.
Although useful for investigations, being forced to experience the history of every object she touches and every person she comes in contact with leaves Samia exhausted and craving solitude. After all, the last time she had sex she was bombarded with all her partner’s emotions and inner demons.
The power of her gift is so strong she can’t even purchase normal clothes, as details of the lives of every person who has ever touched them during production start assailing her mind. As such, Ash uses his powers to manifest her clothes for her and she lives in a house with objects untouched by any but herself.
Dev is upset this Dark Huntress doesn’t believe he really saw a day-walking Daimon. Despite the fact he hides this from his family, he is a Sentinel and a powerful one at that. He definitely knows a Daimon when he smells one. Samia thinks the only way he can prove to her what he saw is for her to invade his mind and see the memory herself, but Dev is having none of that! What if she damages his mind or sees something she shouldn’t?
It turns out Samia is not above forcing her way into an non-consenting mind, however when she tries she is shocked to discover she can’t. Furthermore, she realises she can touch Dev without experiencing his past feelings. This is grounds to take him home with her but she is still too scarred by the loss of her mortal husband and child to entertain the idea of a relationship.
When Samia is attacked by demons in her home it is clear she needs to hide out somewhere else. The only place that won’t send her insane from other’s emotions is Dev’s. After all, since he is the only person she can safely touch, it would seem an awful waste not to…
The Chronicles of Nick: Invincible
Picking up immediately from where Infinity left off, Invincible continues telling the alternate life history of Nick. The skill he must master in this novel is that of necromancy…and avoiding the new gym teacher of course!
With his mother still in the dark regarding the supernatural, Nick must fight the evil hordes alongside his eccentric band of vampire-slayers, including the teenage Tabitha Devereaux (Valerius’s future significant other).
While playing on the irony of the darkness consuming Nick in the main series, Invincible starts to hint at what it would take to turn young Nick to the “dark side.” And of course any book in which Simi is given free rein with the BBQ sauce is sure to be entertaining…
This novel tells the story of Sundown “Jess” Brady, an outlaw from the late 1800’s who worked as a gun for hire. Never blinking at orders to assassinate even children, Brady turned his life around after falling in love with the virtuous Matilda. Giving away all his ill-gotten gains, Brady prepares to marry the girl of his dreams…only to be shot in the back by his partner for the bounty on his head. Resurrected by Artemis as a Dark Hunter, Brady could have his revenge but never see Matilda again.
In the present day, Brady has been sent to help Sin at his club in Las Vegas, a city apparently overrun by soul-sucking Daimons and demons. Some of these Daimons work for Sin, claiming the souls they consume are from humans who deserve to die (using a Dexter-style logic to choose candidates, including rapists and murderers).
With Daimons consuming the essence of demons for the power to walk in daylight, it is believed a war is coming. There are also vague references to an upcoming mystical event, the Time Untime (the title of a future book in the series). The real mystery of this novel, however, is who is the human girl leading an army of Daimons to kill Dark Hunters?
Abigail’s family was murdered in front of her as a child and she was adopted and raised by a family of Daimons. Seeing Dark Hunters as the enemy, Abby spends her nights hunting them down. But there is one creature she wants to kill above any other, the man she believes murdered her real family – Sundown Brady!
Another Dream-Hunter novel, The Guardian tells the story of Lydia, who is tasked to find the missing God of sleep, Solin, before he betrays the secrets of the Oneroi and the entrance to Mount Olympus. Unfortunately, her attempted rescue leads to her own capture by the sadistic, Seth, the slave of Noir who can only escape more of his own torture by breaking Solin for his master.
The illegitimate son of an Egyptian God and a human, Seth was abandoned before being taken in by a family of Were-Jackals only to be betrayed by them and sold as a slave to Noir. In short, he has issues, but the gratuitous torture inflicted on him did not need to be described in quite so much detail in order for the reader to grasp this fact. As such, Seth’s past had more in common with the overly violent histories of characters like Ash and Kyrian, but without those characters’ audience appeal.
There are a number of interesting points of intersection with other Dark-Hunter and Chronicles of Nick storylines exposed in this novel, in addition to a heroine who is part Dream Hunter, part Were Hunter. However, many readers found the romantic redemption narrative a little too quick and shallow to be satisfying.
Chronicles of Nick: Infamous
Having developed many of his supernatural skills, Nick is finding it hard to keep his natural life running smoothly. Girlfriend dramas and zombie battles are just such a drag sometimes! With the sides of good and evil both trying to claim Nick as their own, he is forced to accept his destiny – he will either destroy the world or save it.
Like the earlier Chronicles of Nick stories, this one thoroughly engages with both classicism and playground politics. A victim of bullying, Nick runs the risk of becoming a bully himself. The son of a notorious felon, Nick fears the darkness he feels inside. How he deals with these fears will determine what kind a man he turns out to be…
Essentially a doomsday 2012 prophecy tale, Time Untime tells the story of Ren Waya, the mysterious Native American Keetoowah warrior who helped Sundown Brady in Las Vegas. His job is to prevent time unraveling, which means he needs the help of the human, Kateri Avani. Unfortunately, Teri doesn’t believe the stories her grandmother always taught her about the supernatural and her role in closing the portal between dimensions.
Some readers didn’t like the introduction of even more mythologies into the series, including more Native American and Mayan myths. However, like most similar complaints, this one doesn’t hold much weight as clearly many readers are able to retain the necessary series memory to make sense of the story. There are also reappearances by characters within the Dark-Hunter universe who haven’t been heard of since the early novels, which made a nice addition to Ren and Teri’s narrative.
Teri has always been plagued with visions of a man she’s never met. Suddenly when all manner of otherworldly creatures start attacking her she finds herself being rescued by the very man she’s seen so many times before! But what was that he wanted her to do again? Oh, that’s right. Just a little matter of saving the world…