Sunday, September 8, 2013

Review: Styxx

Styxx (Dark-Hunter #23) 

by Sherrilyn Kenyon


Just when you thought doomsday was over...
Centuries ago Acheron saved the human race by imprisoning an ancient evil bent on absolute destruction. Now that evil has been unleashed and it is out for revenge.
As the twin to Acheron, Styxx hasn’t always been on his brother’s side. They’ve spent more centuries going at each other’s throats than protecting their backs. Now Styxx has a chance to prove his loyalty to his brother, but only if he’s willing to trade his life and future for Acheron’s.
The Atlantean goddess of Wrath and Misery, Bethany was born to right wrongs. But it was never a task she relished. Until now. She owes Acheron a debt that she vows to repay, no matter what it takes. He will join their fellow gods in hell and nothing is going to stop her.
But things are never what they seem, and Acheron is no longer the last of his line. Styxx and Acheron must put aside their past and learn to trust each other or more will suffer.
Yet it’s hard to risk your own life for someone who once tried to take yours, even when it's your own twin, and when loyalties are skewed and no one can be trusted, not even yourself, how do you find a way back from the darkness that wants to consume the entire world? One that wants to start by devouring your very soul?


There truly are three sides to every story..and in this case the truth is sadder than fiction.  We have believed for the last five years that we knew the truth of all the horrors that Acheron endured at the hands of his family during his life as a human in ancient Atlantis.  But now we know that we never knew the half of it.  Ms. Kenyon has opened my eyes and reminded me why I try so hard in my life not jump to conclusions about anyone I meet and the lives I see them living.   Breaking my heart and bringing me to tears repeatedly, as I learned the truth, Styxx is the truth that we never knew we were missing in this series. Now that the truth is out we can all be reminded that just because we think we understand a character’s motivations, until we read their personal stories even the most detailed of stories can remain one-sided.  Thanks for blowing my mind Ms. Kenyon! 
Styxx’s story begins when he and Acheron are little boys, living in ancient Greece.  The young prince of the Didymosian throne, everyone sees Styxx as the pampered spoiled son of the king, even his family, but the truth is much darker and dangerous.  As Styxx grows, dealing with his jealous shrew of a sister, the loss of the other half of himself, and the hate and suspicions of both his parents, he is suprisingly able to retain his humility and the truly gentle nature of his soul.  I won’t give away too many of the details about the sorrows and horrors of the short human life that Styxx led, but I will say that if you have read Acheron’s story it doesn’t even begin to show the terrors that these two boys really lived.  But amazingly, through all the disgusting things that were done to Styxx, he was able to find a woman to love and maintain the ability to share his true self with her despite it all.  But sadly that was just the beginning of the sadness he had to face.
Bethany, Styxx’s love, is not exactly who she leads him to believe, but when she falls in love with Styxx, despite all the lies she’s always believed about him she is willing to give it all up for him.  Teaching him to trust his heart and learning from him the power of a man with a pure heart, Bethany joins with Styxx against his enemies.   When they are separated, for over 11,000 years, it’s impossible not to feel destroyed for them.  But only with the help of the twin he long ago lost faith in, can Styxx bring back his Bethany and find the light of her love to counter the darkness of his past. 
Styxx is one of those characters that we have been taught to hate from the beginning of the series.  We first met him in the third book of the series when he tried to kill Acheron and from then on we only ever see him through the eyes of his enemies.  But from the minute this story begins, we see a whole new side of Styxx.  Seeing the dark and disastrous past that shaped Styxx into the man he was, and learning the real reason for his actions made me feel almost worse for him than I did for Ach when we learned about his own sordid past. Deeply rooted fears and issues that I couldn’t even begin to come to terms with or understand, have earned Styxx my respect and love.  Don’t think I ever met a better written character and I can honestly say that  if I ever met a man with Styxx’s heart and ability to forgive, in the flesh, I would do everything in my power to claim him for myself.
Bethany is a pretty cool chick too.  Being a goddess with her very own intriguing back story and issues, Bethany comes into Styxx’s life during one of his darkest years.  Posing as a young human girl, she is just enjoying her solitude when Styxx arrives in her life and changes the course of their futures forever.  Their friendship quickly blossoms into a deep and abiding love, passion and companionship running side by side as they individually come to terms with their responsibilities and their dreams.  But when Bethany finally decides to commit to Styxx there is nothing that can keep them apart or destroy their love, not death and not 11,000 years apart.
I can honestly say I began this story as a major skeptic; usually I don’t like when a well established villain is made the hero of his own romance, but only Ms. Kenyon could so fabulously pull off something like this. The atrocities that Styxx endured as a child and a young man are so disgusting and disturbing that there were times I found myself having to put the book down and hug my family just to ground myself in my own reality.  Though the details were terrifying, the telling of this story is above reproach and beautifully written to tug your heartstrings and make you count your blessings that you never had to live their lives.  Styxx is the best novel I’ve read in ages and seeing the heart of a man that could so easily have become a psychopath, remain true and pure—to find love—shows us that even the most damaged and shattered of men can become whole again.  While the story of why Styxx and Acheron became enemies, and the eventual reconciliation of their relationship, was definitely a BIG portion of this story, it is patently obvious this was a story of love.  A love for the ages, one that bridges all gaps, and brings two wounded souls back together to share the ultimate love.  Seeing Beth and Styxx get their HEA is the most important lesson Kenyon could share with us. Styxx is easily the best story of the year and so far for me the best book of this decade.  I never thought Acheron could be topped, but Kenyon has done it.  Now I can only wonder…what more can she do to shatter our beliefs in this series and where can we possibly go from here?

Favorite Quote: 

"If you want, akri-Styxx, the Simi can love you, too.  'Cause hearts are amazing things.  they get lots bigger to make room for new people to be alongside the old people you love... The Simi gots lots of room to love you too... if you want."  -Simi to Styxx page 739

Rating: 5 stars

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