Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: Sins of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon, book 6 of the Dark Hunter Series

Discontent is brewing among the Dark Hunters of Mississippi, Stryker, leader of the Spathi, an ancient order of warrior Daimons, is stirring up discontent against Acheron.

And Acheron looks on in sadness, not because the Dark hunters can rise up against him, but because he cannot risk the powerful Dark Hunters abusing humanity; already some of them have taken to feeding on humans and working with Daimons rather than against them. Acheron sends the Alexion, his right hand, to give them a last chance to turn away from rebellion and Stryker’s lies. Not for Acheron’s sake – but so Acheron is spared from having to kill them. Doubly important for Alexion – because the leader of the rebellion is a man he once considered a brother

But Stryker has another plot – while destroying the Dark Hunters is always a goal, he also seeks revenge for the death of his son – a revenge that will be paid in Acheron’s pain. And Alexion, who has been his right hand for 9,000 years, is a perfect target for this.

And in the middle of this conflict is the Dark Huntress, Danger. Approached by the rebels, she doesn’t know what to think and having Alexion taking up residence in her house doesn’t make things easier – not least of which because of the spark of attraction that fired between them.

So we’re following Danger… Danger? Really, Danger? What, was this book co-written by JR Ward? Couldn’t it at least be Dhanger? Anyway, Danger is supposed to be French and occasionally drops French in her dialogue. I don’t know what it is about the character, but she didn’t feel authentic, to such a degree that I was confused by the sudden inclusion of French, having forgotten her nationality. But we had enough musings about the French revolution for me to be rather irritated in the revisionism of aristocrat abuses, but that’s reasonable considering that Danger was from one of those guillotined families.

Plotwise… I’m not entirely sure what the point of this book was. We’ve left New Orleans behind and moved to a new group of Dark Hunters in Mississippi, but we don’t really even establish a new cast there, maybe a few names here and there but the area hasn’t been established sufficiently to make me think this going to be a new “hub” for stories, especially since Danger (oh dear gods that name. was Dangereuse really a name for a girl in pre-revolution France, really?) is no longer in the picture. So we left our old cast, didn’t really develop a new one and all that’s really been shown is – zomg look how powerful Acheron is. Which, well, we kind of knew. There were some hints and tips along the way to fill in a few gaps, but on the whole this book felt like a big “let’s make it clear how awesome Acheron is.” Maybe Alexion and Danger will become more established characters and this is their introduction.

So I can’t say the plot enthralled me a great deal because, at book 7 in the series (or more depending on how you count, the Dark Hunter series being a little tangled) I expect the plot to fit in somewhere with the larger ongoing story and instead this seems vaguely clung to the side. I also don’t see the characters actually driving the plot. Alexion is here to convince the Dark Hunters to mend their ways or be smote most viciously. And that’s pretty much how he does it as well “cut it out or there will be smiting!” he doesn’t particularly spend time convincing people, relaxing Acheron’s secrecy or anything that might diffuse the situation. Nope, it’s wander around delivering smiting threats and having sex with Danger. They don't do enough - they have a time limit in which to try and save these Dark Hunters from themselves and they spend most of their time twiddling their thumbs - where's the action and the urgency?

Speaking of – my standard complaint about them having met each other for 2 days and now being totally and utterly desperately in Twu Luv still applies. Yes it happened again, no it didn’t amuse me, no I don’t think it added to the plot, yes it did make their relationship seem hurried and a little silly.
Oh and Alexion’s constant horniness was ridiculous. Yes, 200 years without female companionship, very vexing I’m sure – take matters into your own hand man and stop whining, it’s creepy, it’s nagging and it’s unpleasant.

Now for some more problematic elements.

I think back to the previous books and to the pairings – it’s Dark/Were Hunter with a human woman – maybe a woman with martial arts or magic, but still human. And then we get this book with a human Dark Hunter… so do we get a human man? Nope, we get a super-duper ex-Dark Hunter man for her. And it’s a disturbing trend in a lot of Paranormal Romance series – when we have a series of books which follow lots of different heterosexual love stories the male partners have to nearly always be stronger than the female partners.

Sex wise, while we’ve followed other Dark Hunters who are pretty much a-ok with casual sex whenever they can get a leg over, the female Danger finds “sex without some kind of mutual caring” unfulfilling. Ok, that could could could just be a personal thing rather than a comment on gender- so we quickly follow it up with “Like many other female Dark-Hunters, she wanted the one thing she could never have again – a relationship” there, that’s nice and clear. The male Dark Hunters want sex, the female Dark Hunters want relationships (oh except for the man-hating Amazons who I will lay odds now, if we ever meet them, are almost certainly going to be lesbians and then I will probably scream).

I’m also not happy that, at the end, Danger is shelved. She goes from being an active, lethal Dark Hunter fighting to protect humanity, to being retired and stuck with Alexion. I actually had a strong impression of it being similar to a woman giving up her career for the sake of love.
And I am tired tired really tired of these homophobic classical Greeks. Really, we’re not even talking heteronormative classical Greeks which would have been bad enough, we’re talking outright homophobic, horrified to be thought of gay, offended at the idea he could be checking out another man, outraged at how those gay Greeks “gave them a bad name”.

Yes, that’s an actual quote. The Greeks who had sex with other men gave the Greeks a bad name.  Not impressed.

We have some POC characters from a few different backgrounds, but none around long enough to make an especially memorable impression.

I’m trying to think of something positive to say about this book and I can’t. I’m not saying it was awful, painful or agonising to read – because it wasn’t, it even had moments of amusement. But it was dull and rather pointless with sufficient fails to make it work to read - frankly, it was boring and frustrating. As a stand alone novel, it didn’t have enough to make it compelling or interesting. As a series novel, it doesn’t continue enough of the meta plot or develop the characters sufficiently to justify itself. The only out for it would be introducing new characters that will be important later – but even that could have been done better.