Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Book 7 of the Dark Hunter Series

Susan is a journalist. An investigative reporter. Or she was before she lost everything when one story blew up in her face. The scandal of her mistake brought her down and stripped her of everything, her job, her boyfriend, her reputation, her home and everything she owned. Now in Seattle, she’s reduced to writing shock headlines for a dreadful supermarket tabloid – bat boy and Elvis sightings.

And then her whole world is so turned upside down that it makes her paper’s convoluted headlines seem almost sensible. Her best friends are talking about vampires in the police department, she brings home a cat that turns into a gorgeous naked guy – that she’s allergic too. And police are battering down her door and accusing her of murder. 

Ravyn, the former Arcadian Dark Hunter, has his own problems. The Daimons have allied with the mortal authorities in an effort to bring down all of Seattle’s Dark Hunters. Already one of them has fallen, arrested and left in a daylit cell and he himself was captured by animal control in his cat form. Rescued by Susan, he drags her into a world where the Daimons have changed all the rules and the only safety he can find is in his family’s sanctuary – a family that loathes him and blames him for so many of their loved one’s deaths centuries ago.

Now they have to save the city from the Daimons, try to keep the Dark Hunters alive and deal with the added complication of familial angst, were-hunter bonding and Savitar dropping the enraged and troubled Nick Gautier in their laps.

And, of course, Acheron is never around when you need him

Ok I’m going to start with some social justice issues then come back to the plot.

We do have some POC Dark Hunters in what is becoming a habit – whenever you have group scenes of Dark Hunters you will get the odd few who are POC. They show up, we’re given quick introductions showing they’re from Egypt/Japan/Sudan and then, of course, they have to leave because Dark Hunters can’t spend too much time together without draining each other – which is great and has good storylines, but we end up following the Nordic Greeks and other European Dark hunters
And yes, I put in the Nordic there for a reason – I’m no expert and please correct me if I’m wrong, but these extremely tall, pale folks aren’t what I picture when I think of Ancient Greeks and Romans.

We has some GBLT-ish inclusion here. In that Stryker – yes the big big bad guy, the leader of the Daimons, the ultimate evil guy, was in an orgy of men and women, showing what a perverse evil bad guy he was. But the orgy may have just been for blood (Daimons and Apollites must drink each other’s blood).

And we saw Zoe (briefly, for about 10 seconds). The Amazon. The man hating Amazon. The man hating Amazon with a sharp tongue who gives Acheron grief. Guess what? She’s a lesbian! I tell you I am shocked, shocked by this revelation.

Right – y’know erasure was good. Let’s go back to the erasure.

As to Susan, the lead female character – I have to say I love her. She’s prickly, she’s snarky, she’s strong and tough. She has been thrown up to her neck in the supernatural but neither falls apart in a sobbing mess nor does she completely take it in her stride (which would be unrealistic). She can kick arse (albeit a little convolutedly) she’s sensible and she’s generally a character I love. And, unlike previous books, the love is fast but not ultra fast and they have a little time for lust and spending time with each other before the twu luv woo-woo comes down.

One thing I am irritated about – and has appeared in previous books in the series – is that Susan had a tragic, empty, unfulfilled life before Ravyn entered it and then there was happiness, fulfilment, a new purpose in life. It’s a sadly overdone trope that I mislike because it so often reduces the woman’s life to nothing without said man.

Now to the plot. These flaws aside it wasn’t a bad book per se, but it was deeply dissatisfying. It wasn’t a particularly exciting book and it certainly missed its potential. We haven’t picked up enough meta-plot from the previous series and the story wasn’t that different from what we’ve seen before – it could have been. We could have had a nice, long, epic tale about how the Dark hunters are on the ropes with the police and other mortal authorities. We could have had numerous scenes of Dark Hunters forced to decide whether to kill Apollites or mortals in order to protect themselves. We could have had search warrants, search and seizures (how many illegal weapons do the Dark Hunters carry?), Squires being harassed and arrested – we could have had food inspectors and zoning violations and animal control and terrorist accusations. Houses raided during the day, cars impounded, drugs planted, identification checked and found to be false. It could have been a wonderful commentary on police abuse and abuse of authority in general and corruption and lack f proper oversight. It could have hammered home why the supernatural has to hide, it could have been an object lesson on just how powerful the might of humanity can be when it is riled.

It could have followed on very well after the epic battle in New Orleans in Seize the Night and Stryker’s crafty plotting turning Dark Hunters against Acheron in Sins of the Night. It would have been another in a series of cunning, crafty moves by the Daimons.

But that didn’t happen. Oh there were a couple of forays by the police, but that wasn’t sustained or pursued or even remotely reached even a tenth of their potential. In fact, human co-operation with the Daimons was somewhat negligible and the actual coup against the Dark Hunters was brought about by luring them together with mobile phone messages – and it as escaped by dropping Acheron, the series’ Deus Ex Machinae right in the middle of it. In fact, the one attempt to use mortal authorities in an interesting way was foiled by dropping Savitar, the series’ second Deus Ex Machinae on top of that one as well. And then the police/Daimon alliance pretty much dissolved of its own accord and we were left with a relatively standard Dark Hunter/Daimon battle. 

In fact, the action/battle in this book was pretty limited, there was a lot of hiding in Sanctuary with Ravyn’s family issues (which, again, we’re not fully developed and rather simplistically resolved themselves), a couple of fights, then the enemy pretty much defeated itself.

Also, there’s still such a huge world out there and more I want to see – I want to see Apollo again. Who is Stryker’s sister? Zarek’s a god now, what does that mean? Same with Valerius? What about Aphrodite and Eros and Psyche – they were fun. Can we have more information on Acheron and Savitar for that matter, what are the Dream-Hunters, what do they do? What about Cassandra, the last heir of Apollo, how’s she doing? I don’t really want more new stories with complete strangers not doing a whole lot of new things – I want to see more of the existing storylines continued.

Also, Nick. While I can kinda, sorta see why he’s angry with Acheron (Acheron is a god so why didn’t he stop all this bad stuff), I also think he’s been in the Dark Hunter world long enough to accept that god is not synonymous with omnipotent. The level of his rage just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

Don’t get me wrong, the plot wasn’t awful. It was a fairly amusing story in places with interesting characters (though they never drove the plot) and the world remains fascinating and interesting and we even managed to dispense with so much of the tiresome super-speed romance that I don’t much car for. 

But as the 10th (ish, discounting short stories, web stories etc) book in the series, I did want more.

Also, not to be petty, but are these titles chosen at random? “Dark Side of the Moon”? What does that have to do with anything in this book?