Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Book 1 of the Dark Hunter Series

Amanda just wants to have a normal, boring life. She's an accountant, she dates boring guys, she follows a mundane schedule. Unfortunately her family are eccentric to say the least. Psychics and witches, vampire hunters and voodoo priests – and all oh-so-embarrassing when she brings a nice, normal, boring man to meet them

Of course, her boring life is shattered wide open when she meets Kyrian – a 2,000 year old vampire who hunts the cursed, soul-sucking children of Apollo. Kyrian most certainly doesn't lead a boring life – and most certainly isn't a boring man.

Now well out of her depth, Amanda has to deal with her growing affection for Kyrian, who in turn is faced with his attraction conflicting with the Code of the Darkhunters that bans relationships. Amanda has to keep her family and her loved ones safe, learn about this new world and try to manage her own burgeoning and long suppressed powers.

All the while dealing with a daimon, a soul sucking child of Apollo, who has powers far beyond what his kind should have – and who has fixated on feeding on Amanda's own powerful soul. Or her vampire hunting sister, who is less than pleased with her relationship with Kyrian.

We're beginning to see more of a fascinating world here, one we didn't really get in Fantasy Lover (in truth, after reading that book I was surprised it was a series since it felt so much like a stand alone novel). We also had a plot and some attempt at characterisation – two more things that were glaring in their absence from Fantasy Lover.

I want to see more of this world. I want to see the different kind of hunters, what they do, what they're capable of and what variations of powers exist between them. I want to know what different things they hunt above and beyond the apollites and exactly what variety there is there. I want to learn more of this take of the Greek pantheon and see more of the gods as well. Yes I am curious and intrigued by this concept and wish to see much much more. Unfortunately, so far that world has been shown to us by means of lectures. Yes, lots of tell, precious little show.

The story is pretty basic – there's a big bad guy that needs killing. Pretty much a staple. The problem is, the characters don't actually spend much time doing that, hunting him down, killing minions, thwarting plans. Most of the time there's lots of gloppy love and the rest there's, well, random encounters. The actual big bad guy is talked about but not really there. Still, it's not a boring story – I just wish we'd paid more attention to it. All in all, the book is 330 pages long and it doesn't feel like enough content to fill that many.

Now to the bad.

This book managed to irritate me before we even got to 10%. I am actually impressed by that. Not only did it irritate me, but it did it on multiple levels.

Firstly – if you find a strange man in your house who knocks you unconscious and you wake in a dark locked cellar handcuffed to another unconscious strange man do you:
  1. Wonder where you are,
  2. Consider escape; or
  3. Notice how utterly hot said unconscious guy is and how muscular and yummy and sexy etc
Of course, the answer is 3. And of course he reciprocates – and any interaction between them now has to involve some thoughts on how hot the other is (and how she makes him feel for the first time in centuries. CENTURIES and all she did was wake up in the same room as him!)

Secondly – they instantly start snarking at each other and she considers him the most infuriating and irritating man she's ever met – after less than 20 minutes acquaintance. It's like we're aiming for the antagonistic, passionate argument and snark thing but we haven't built it on anything – we're just going to dive right in.

Thirdly – the bad guy has dialogue that even would cause a James Bond villain to pack up his lasers, abandon his piranha pool and drop his cat. It's so grossly ridiculous it was comic – but don't worry, Kyrian is there to respond by MOCKING HIS NAME! What is this, witty come backs by 5 year olds?

And this is 10% in. 10%. I nearly DNFed it right there.

Throughout the book, the inability of either Kyrian or Amanda to think of each other (or anything else for that matter) without a run down of how sexy they find each other (and, later, how much they loooove each other. And yes, it's another story where twu lub happens in an incredibly short space of time). I felt like we'd jumped into an old relationship rather than 2 people who had just met and it made the characters much less believable to me – including the rather flat 2 dimensional sisters.

I'm also irritated how quickly Kyrian's extreme trauma is magically cured by the sexing. Even sexing with warm honey and whipped cream. Yep, the Hoo-Haa of Healing has solved 2 millennia of PTSD.

And the story, in addition to not being riveting, didn't make much sense to me - especially the conclusion. I didn't see why what Amanda did made Kyrian even remotely more powerful or more able to kill Desiderius. It was the main point of the book, the main reason why Amanda's love saves Kyrian and at no point did I see how it actually resulted in Kyrian's victory. Moreover, the rather anticlimactic ending completely undermined how super powerful and dangerous Desiderius was supposed to be. Most of the book has consisted of little more than foreshadowing how big and scary the daimon was and when the actual big fight happened... it was a let down.

Social justice wise, there are a couple of minor POC characters, but no indication of any GBLT characters – including ancient Greece which is, like in Fantasy Lover.

All in all, it wasn't nearly as bad as the first book, but I feel it didn't reach the potential the world and the story provided and most of that was down to characters that didn't feel particularly real, didn't drive the plot (which had its own shaky foundations) and they seemed to wander from event to event and all in fall fell very flat with me. It had immense potential, but it didn't quite meet it.

(A side note: The order of the Dark Hunter stories is confusing me a little. I understand there are at least3 inter-twining series all linked to the same world and storyline.

As such, Fantasy Lover is part of the world/storyline and shares characters but is not considered part of the Dark Hunter Series). Setting that aside, I think this is the first Dark Hunter novel).