ACHERON – Dark-Hunter Series #14 – Sherrilyn Kenyon

Acheron (Dark-Hunter, Book 12)

Heart-wrenching and emotional are the words I keep coming up with to describe this book. It was a long book with 728 pages and the first 65% was about Acheron’s first 21 years before his god status was awakened. His entire human life was filled with torture, humiliation and sadness. The next 11,000 years were a little better but he still suffered. If anyone deserves happiness, it is Acheron.

I’m just going to give a short version which will probably be super long anyway. There will be SPOILERS in this summary and I apologize ahead of time but I don’t think it can be helped. I won’t give up the end of the book though.

When Acheron’s mother Apollymi was pregnant with him, her husband Archon, the king of the Atlantean gods, demanded that she kill her unborn child because the Fates, his bastard daughters declared that the child would be the end of the Atlantean pantheon. They were young and jealous but being the Fates, everything they say comes to pass and they knew this. What nobody realizes though is that sometimes, because people put too much stock into a prophesy, they cause the prophesy to come true because of their actions and reactions.

Apollymi birthed her son, Apostolos, in secret then bound his powers so that he could be hidden from the gods until he turned 21 when he could handle them. She hid him in an already pregnant human queen so he could be raised as royalty.

Her good intentions would have worked had she not trusted the wrong gods in her pantheon. When the queen birthed her sons, Apollymi’s half-sister and goddess of desire, Epithymia who was disguised as a wise woman, touched Apostolos, knowing that her touch would cause people to desire him. She smirked as she left the room. When the midwife saw the baby’s swirling silver eyes, she thought he was deformed until another wise woman declared he was sent from the gods. She told them that the twins were bound together, if the eldest should die so too would the youngest. Even so, the queen and king denied him. The twins were named Acheron and Styxx for the underworld rivers of sadness and anger.

While Styxx was loved by his father, the king, Acheron was hated. The only one who loved him was his older sister Ryssa but women had little to no power in those days so she couldn’t do much to help him. When Acheron was only seven years old, his Uncle Estes came and took him away from Didymos, a Greek Island, to Atlantis. His uncle was a sick pig who turned Acheron into a sex slave, beating and starving him to make him subservient. Because Acheron was cursed by his aunt’s touch, people desired him even when they didn’t want to. Nobody past puberty could resist him. Plus he was beautiful which made Estes a very rich man.

When Acheron was sixteen or seventeen years old, Ryssa discovered what her uncle was doing to Acheron and stole him away from him and hid Acheron at the family’s summer home. Ryssa had good intentions but she did not have the power to back it up. Throughout the years, Ryssa would try to help Acheron but ended up hurting him worse. When she first stole Acheron, he was subservient and was too afraid to even look at her directly. Estes had him addicted to drugs so he also had to go through withdrawals. She was finally able to get his hopes up and get him acting almost like a normal human but then her father found them and sent him back to Estes.

A year later, Estes died and war was getting ready to break out between Greece and Atlantis so Ryssa, her father and Styxx went to go get Acheron. His father kicked Acheron out naked onto the streets. Ryssa chased after him and gave him her cloak but Acheron was angry and told her to go away. Less than a year later, she saw Acheron in the market place in Didymos. She followed him and found out he was working in a stew, a whore house. He told her that it is all he knows how to do and at least he gets to eat at the table and not the scraps on the floor like he did with their uncle and he only had to sleep with ten to twelve people a night and even had one day off a week. It was really sad.

His father had him arrested and beat. He threw him into a cell and let him starve but his father forgot that if Acheron dies, so does Styxx so when Styxx fell over one day, Ryssa reminded them about that little tidbit. They force fed Acheron until Styxx felt better.

Ryssa was offered to Apollo to be his mistress to gain favor with the god. Her father thought he would back the Greeks against Atlantis if he gave his daughter to him but Apollo wanted his Apollites to take over the human world. He laughed behind the Greek’s backs and said they could lavish him with gifts and beautiful women but he would never back them.

Acheron’s life just got worse with public beatings and humiliations.

He met Artemis and wanted her to kill him so he kissed her but instead of killing him, she was intrigued. They became friends…sort of. It was more like Artemis found a new toy or pet. He told her that he didn’t like anyone to pull his hair or be behind him and breathe on the back of his neck and she told him that she would never do that. She soon wanted him to have sex with her and after initially resisting, he finally gave in. As soon as they were done having sex, she regretted it and took it out on him by throwing him into a wall and telling him that she would cut his tongue out and kill him if he ever told anyone about it. Yet she kept coming back to him. She would apologize and then do something mean to him. She’d pull his hair and breathe on the back of his neck every time she was mad at him.

At one point, the king found Acheron in Artemis’ temple on her feast day, paying homage to her by leaving pearls and white rose petals. His father had him chained and beaten in the temple. Ryssa, who had figured out that Artemis and Acheron were sleeping together tried to plead with her father to let him go and told him they were together which, of course, no one believed. Artemis was too ashamed of Acheron to admit it and was too afraid of what everyone else would think of her so she didn’t rescue her…in fact, she told the punisher to beat him even harder because she thought Acheron had betrayed her by telling his father they were together.

What I think Acheron looked like in his years before he became badass.

What I think Acheron looked like in his years before he became badass.

Later, Ryssa told Artemis that it was her who said something, not Acheron so Artemis teleports herself into Acheron’s bedroom (he now is allowed to live in the palace but only so they can keep an eye on him) and apologizes like it was no big deal. Acheron forgives her but his heart hardens against her. Artemis develops a sick obsession with Acheron.

The book goes on and on about how the king and Styxx and Artemis torture Acheron. I have to say, I really despised Artemis the most out of all of them though because she claimed to love him.

Acheron had just turned 21 and just learned he was a god. He told Artemis and hoped that she would now accept him and not be embarrassed of her but she became frightened because she knew he was more powerful than she was and she thought the other Greek gods would kill her for bringing in someone who could destroy them. She told him that nothing could change his past, that he was still a whore so she couldn’t be with him in public. She was so frightened that she went to his room and fed him ambrosia, saying it was a gift but she had drugged him. She tried to stab him with an Atlantean dagger to kill him but she chickened out.

Because of the other books, we know about the Apollite curse and anyone who reads this series knows what happened to Ryssa…at least, if they had put two and two together. The Atlantean queen, an Apollite, was jealous of Apollo’s new mistress so she sent some men out to kill Ryssa and her son. She told them to make it look like animals did it and shred them to pieces. You would have thought by the severity of the curse that Apollo gave to the Apollites because of Ryssa’s death that Apollo loved Ryssa dearly but that wasn’t the case. He thought of her as nothing more than a pet.

When the men came and murdered her and her son, Acheron was still drugged. He woke up and heard their screams and tried to crawl towards them but passed out again. When he woke up again, they were dead. One more reason to hate Artemis. The king and Styxx were devastated. When Apollo showed up, Styxx told him that Acheron let them die so Apollo sliced Acheron open with an Atlantean dagger and killed him. As he lay dying, he saw Artemis cringing in a corner out of the view of Apollo. She just let him die. I’m screaming at the book, “How much more can you take? Kill the bitch goddess now!”

That is when Mommy Dearest goes crazy. Apollymi hadn’t known what kind of life Acheron had lived. She was too afraid to look into the human world and find him because she was afraid that the other gods would find him through her and kill him. After she had birthed Acheron, they had locked her in Kalosis, the Atlantean hell realm, and the only way she could ever leave was if her son came to her or he died. On his 21st birthday, she sent her most trusted friend, a Charonte demon named Xirena to him to unlock his powers. Then Xirena came back and told her what his life had been like. Apollymi was livid. When Acheron died, she was freed. Heartbroken and in a rage, she went to the Atlantean pantheon. She destroyed and killed every one of the gods there because they are the ones who could have made his life better if not for them believing the Fates. Then she sank Atlantis and started across Greece, annihilating everything.

The Fates ran to Artemis and told her that Apollymi was going to kill them and her unless she stopped her. In order to stop Apollymi and imprison her again in Kalosis, Artemis had to bring Acheron back to life. She went to Tartarus and found Acheron and tricked him into drinking her blood which not only brought him back to life, it bound him to Artemis for eternity. In order to live and not become a killing machine, he had to drink her blood.

For two thousand years, Acheron ignored Artemis. She sent servants to him with her blood to nourish him. Apollymi had given him a baby Charonte demon, Simi, to take care of so he traveled with her fighting Daimons. Artemis would try to speak to him in his head but he would ignore it. Then one day, she told him she made Dark-Hunters to help him fight the Daimons. She told them they needed someone to train them or they would die. Acheron was suckered into helping them because of his compassion. He made a bargain with her that they should be paid for their work and have servants. She agreed. When he met them, he felt sorry for one of them because he wanted to go back to his wife so he bargained with Artemis to get the man’s soul back. He knew he was stuck with Artemis forever. She’d found a way to entrap him again.

The book finally gets to the present day.

We met Tory in book #10, The Dream-Hunter. She was fourteen or fifteen years old then. Now she is all grown up. She is following in her father’s and uncle’s footsteps and searching for Atlantis. She is a genius and received her doctorate at just 20 years old and is using her contacts to try to get funding for her project. She is in Tennessee getting ready to give a speech when she first sees Acheron. She looks out at the audience and sees a gorgeous man dressed like a Goth sitting in one of the seats. A beautiful redhead sits next to him, looking at him adoringly but he sneers at her and tells her to fuck off. Tory is disgusted with him. She thinks he is a jerk for treating a woman like that. Then when she starts speaking, he heckles her and puts doubt in the other audience member’s heads. He puts down her life’s work and humiliates her.

She chases after him after she is finished speaking and yells at him, calling him a spoiled frat-boy and asking him if it felt good to humiliate her like that. When she leaves, she is glad that she will never see him again or she might run over him with her car.

Acheron can’t believe his eyes when he attends Dr. Soteria Kafieri’s lecture on Atlantis. He half expects her to be a crackpot but when she shows photographs on the overhead screen of pieces from Atlantis and underwater pictures of the actual site of Atlantis, he knows he has to discredit the woman and does. He feels bad but nobody can find Atlantis. There are just too many secrets there that could ruin too many people, including him. Also, there is an underwater seal that if opened could release Apollymi from Kalosis.

When Tory returns to New Orleans, she goes to Julian Alexander who we know is a Greek god but she has no clue. She has one of Ryssa’s journals and needs to translate it. He refers her to a friend who lives in town part-time but is in town for a few weeks working on a project for Habitat for Humanity. He takes her to the site. When she sees Acheron, she yells at him and throws a hammer at his head but he ducks and it misses him. He laughs which just pisses her off more. She leaves and drives off, forgetting the journal which Julian hands over to Acheron.

Acheron sends the book back to Tory with olive leaves and a rose, apologizing for being rude. Tory needs the journal translated so she visits the site where Acheron is working again and asks for his help. She tells him she’ll do anything and when one of the men working with him overhears that and suggest that she be a sex slave for Acheron, she says, “Ew” which baffles Acheron. Nobody thinks of him as “ew”. He agrees to translate the journal and teaches her the ancient Greek language. He likes being around Tory because she doesn’t grope him. In fact, she doesn’t seem to think of him sexually at all which is a relief to him.

Soon he really starts to care for her but there is no way Artemis would ever allow a relationship between them, not to mention that he is a god and she is a human with no knowledge of anything paranormal.

Meanwhile, Tory’s crew in Greece has discovers another one of Ryssa’s journals. It was preserved in a sealed container and is in perfect condition. Unfortunately, this journal was written while she and Apollo were together and has secrets about how Apollo and Artemis drink blood to survive and the secret to how to kill them. It also has things written about Acheron that could expose that he was a sex slave which would humiliate him.

Artemis has followers who are out to find the journal and kill Tory because she has become too much of a pain and gotten too close to Atlantis. Also, Stryker and Satara want the journal because they need ammo against Apollo and Artemis and Acheron. They send out demons to grab Tory. While she is riding on the back of Acheron’s motorcycle, the followers of Artemis find them and start shooting at them. One of their cars clips the back of the motorcycle which wrecks the bike. Then one of the cars runs over Acheron’s legs. Tory slides across the pavement and slams into something hard. Acheron flashes her to the emergency room. She dies but they resuscitate her and take her to the operating room.

Acheron has to try to save her life from everyone who wants the journal…that is if she makes it out of surgery.

The book was pretty heavy and heartbreakingly sad until Tory enters the scene. Then there was humor which was badly needed by that point. I think by the end of the book, I was ready to murder Artemis myself. Who cares that she and Apollo are connected to the sun and the moon and if they die, the world would end. It would be worth it. Okay, no it wouldn’t be but there has got to be a way to get that “bitch heifer” as Simi calls her.

I think I slept very little while reading this book because I was so into it and when I did sleep, I dreamt of it. I know, that is weird but you have to realize that I have been re-reading the books of this series, one right after the other so they are making a pretty big impression on my mind and my subconscious must be affected by it.

The last time I read this book, I had to wait almost a year for the next book but I remember thinking nothing could top this book. I’m getting ready to read the next book in the series and I wonder if I will be let down a little because this books was so stellar. I know there is another book in the series called Styxx that made a big impression on me but that is still a few books away.

There were so many things that happened in this book that were vital to the story and to future stories of the series but I couldn’t put them in this review/summary because it would have either taken too long or ruined the ending.

I’m off to read the next book in the series.

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