Styxx – Dark-Hunter Series #22 – Sherrilyn Kenyon

So many people to hate. So little time…uh…okay, so 11,000 years and 837 pages is a lot of time to hate. I was the one hating on the characters who did Styxx wrong because Styxx erroneously loved a lot of them. I think I mostly hated Apollo, Styxx’ father, his Uncle Estes and his sister, Ryssa but the list is a lot longer than that.

If you follow the Dark-Hunter series, you would have believed Styxx to be a villain especially if you read book #14, Acheron, about Styxx’ twin brother and star of the series. That book was from the POV of both their sister Ryssa and Acheron and it did not paint a pretty picture of Styxx. From their point of view, Styxx was a spoiled, arrogant and cruel person. But we learn in this book, nothing is ever as it seems. I really did not like Styxx before this book and couldn’t figure out how Sherrilyn Kenyon was going to make him likable after some of the things he did to Acheron but I was very wrong.

The backstory is that the Atlantean goddess Apollymi finally conceived a baby after centuries of trying and failing. Her faithless husband Archon who was the king of the Atlantean pantheon of gods, ordered her to get rid of it after his bastard triplets, the Fates, spoke a prophesy that the child would be the death of the Atlantean pantheon. The Fates said it was an accident that they spoke it but I believe it was out of jealousy and so did Apollymi. Of course, Apollymi, the goddess of destruction, did not listen to Archon. She, with the help of her faithful Charonte demon, birthed her baby and had him hidden inside an already pregnant human queen, thinking her child, Apostolos, would be raised as royalty and want for nothing until he reached the age of majority when his powers would be unleashed.

Unfortunately, she trusted the wrong goddess to help her. Epithymia, the goddess of desire, helped the human queen birth Apostolos and she touched him on purpose to make his life difficult. Because of her touch, she made humans and even gods desire him sexually. It really messed his life up. Not only did Apollymi choose the wrong goddess, the Greek royal couple she chose was not at all happy to learn that one of the twins was sent from the gods. They named the children Acheron and Styxx. They refused to accept Acheron as their own and treated him like garbage.

At the age of seven, the king let his perverted brother, Estes, take Acheron to live with him in Atlantis where he made him into a sex slave and sold him to anyone who could pay the price. The king turned a blind eye to what Estes was doing and let his siblings believe he was living a life of luxury. Estes lied to Acheron and told him his siblings hated him just as much as the king and queen did. He kept Acheron drugged most of the time and beat him when he wasn’t cooperative. After Estes died, Acheron came back to Greece but was not welcomed by the family except for by his sister Ryssa. The only reason the king kept him alive was because his life was tied to Styxx’ life. If Acheron died then so would Styxx. But the king beat and tortured Acheron for the smallest conceived offense and made sure that he knew he lower than dirt in his eyes.

In Acheron’s book, Styxx also treated Acheron poorly. For the most part, it was the king but there were a few things that stood out like when Styxx had Acheron gelded for supposedly trying to rape his fiancé and when he pointedly told him that he was not his brother. But we found out why a lot of that happened in this book.

I didn’t really like Ryssa in the last book even though I think I was supposed to like her. Every time she helped Acheron, she ended up making things worse for him because she never thought it out well enough and because she just didn’t have the power or authority to protect him. She also seemed a bit spoiled and naïve. In this book I learned to loathe her. She favored Acheron and thought Styxx was a pampered spoiled brat. She treated Styxx poorly even when he was only five years old. She’d hit him and say vile things to him which no one should ever say to a little child no matter how spoiled they are. She would go out of her way to have him punished. She’d tell him horrible things but if he said anything back to her she would run and tell her father who would punish him severely. When Styxx’ crazy mother stabbed him repeatedly when he was twelve years old almost killing him, Ryssa said that it was probably because Styxx provoked her and that their mother was a gentle soul. Yeah…because stabbing your child is always an acceptable way to behave. Ryssa was spoiled and allowed to do a lot of things she shouldn’t have been allowed to do.

Styxx’ father did not pamper him. In fact, he was suspicious of him and questioned his paternity. He believed that his wife cheated on him and Styxx may not have been his either. He would force Styxx to study hard and work hard from the time he was able to walk and talk. He would gift him with something and then take it away or destroy it as punishment so Styxx really didn’t have much. While Ryssa got anything she wanted without having to work for it, Styxx had to work hard for everything he had. His father would force him to work a ten hour day and get paid for two of the hours. Styxx never got to play with other children or have fun. He was tutored, taught how to fight and worked. That was his life. His father would have him beaten for the smallest offense.

One night, his father went into his room drunk when Styxx was a small boy. He talked more to himself than to Styxx but he basically asked if Styxx was really his son. He then took a knife and slashed Styxx’ arm and made blood pour out of it. That made his father wake up and he apologized but the damage was done already done and left a terrible scar.

Since Styxx was born, he could hear the gods screaming in his head. The Atlanteans gods were searching for Apostolos to kill him. They thought that he may be able to hear them and it would drive him insane. For some reason Styxx was able to hear them also. It would overwhelm him and give him terrible headaches and nosebleeds. He also could hear the thoughts of everyone around him. The only one who ever could soothe his head was Acheron. Before he was taken away, he would sneak into Styxx’ room and they would sleep back to back. When Acheron was near, his head was calm and quiet. They promised to be brothers forever. The other strange thing was that he could feel Acheron’s pain. If someone would slap Acheron across the face, Styxx would also feel it. If Acheron was flogged or beaten, Styxx would feel it but Styxx never mentioned any of this to anyone else besides Acheron because he did not want to seem different or inhuman. His father already treated him bad. He might kill him if he thought he was not totally human.

When Styxx was thirteen or fourteen, he felt a horrible pain go through his tongue and it swelled. He was attending daily duties with his father when he bent over from the pain and couldn’t breathe. One of his father’s attendants looked at Styxx and told his father that he Styxx was possessed and they needed him to get to Dionysus’ temple so the priests could treat him. At the temple, the priests tortured him for months. They burned his thighs and legs with hot pokers. He screamed so hard that he injured his vocal chords and his voice became permanently hoarse.

When Dionysus spotted Styxx in his temple, he went to his brother, Apollo, because he knew Apollo loved beautiful people and knew he would want Styxx and he did. He kissed Styxx but Styxx was repulsed by him which made Apollo angry and just want him even more. He told Styxx that he would end his suffering if he would beg him to be with him but Styxx refused. Apollo sank his fangs into Styxx’ throat and drank his blood. He visited often to torture and drink from him.

Styxx’ Uncle Estes came to visit him and was shocked at the scars on Styxx’ body and promised he would get him out. He brought his father but Xerxes only berated Styxx. He wouldn’t even look at him. Styxx spent another four months being tortured by the priests and Apollo. Finally, Apollo told him if he just held him like a lover…no sex…while he drank from him, he would send him home. Styxx agreed.

When Styxx was fifteen, his Uncle, who visited every year in August but never brought Acheron with him, brought five nobleman along with him to Didymos to visit. He had previously convinced Xerxes to let him take Styxx hunting with him alone. His uncle and the nobleman, one who was an Atlantean prince named Xan, took Styxx hunting and for a week kept him drugged and raped him. Estes told him that his father would never believe him because his father loved Estes way more than he ever loved Styxx and Styxx knew it was true. Estes also told him what he was doing to Acheron, that he made him a sex slave and sold him to men and woman who could afford his steep price.

When they arrived back home, Styxx decided to go to Atlantis and rescue Acheron. He thought he could make it before Estes arrived back in Atlantis but it didn’t work out that way. He found Acheron who was shaking in his boots with fear…well, not boots because Acheron didn’t own any clothes. He was kept naked except for his slave necklace and bracelets. Acheron didn’t trust Styxx because Estes had poisoned him against Styxx. He stalled and when Estes arrived, Acheron called out to him which caused Estes to catch Styxx. Estes captured Styxx and drugged him. He held him for months and when Styxx came out of his drugged stupor, Estes told him the horrible things that were done to him. He told him he had sold him to twenty-two men and that Acheron had even held him down as he was tattooed with the word “tsoulus” on his groin which means sex slave. Estes told him that when his hair grew back, it would cover it but he was marked. Styxx had some memories of Acheron laughing at him and holding him down but Estes also told him that Acheron was drugged and has no memory of Styxx ever being there. Estes had written to his father and told him that he had Styxx and was keeping up with his studies and Estes would be sending him back shortly. The wording of his letters was all done in double innuendos which were pretty sick but they went right over his father’s head. From then on, every year that Estes arrived in Greece, he would rape Styxx and sell him to noblemen.

Styxx had had enough. He jumped off a cliff to commit suicide but survived and the sea washed him ashore. Broken and alone, he forced himself to start walking home. He stopped in a clearing by a stream and met a blind woman named Bethany. Bethany was really the goddess Bet’anya who was in Greece to look for Apostolos for the Atlantean gods. She hadn’t really been looking much because she didn’t agree with them that he should be found and killed. Styxx told her his name was Hector, a rich merchant’s son because he just didn’t want her to treat him like everyone else did. She was nice to him and they starting meeting regularly there and fell in love.

The Atlantean queen declared war on Greece so his father sent Styxx who was barely sixteen to lead his army to war which was strange since his father always berated Styxx on his fighting skills. His men were angry at first but once they saw what a brilliant strategist and fighter Styxx was, they admired and respected him. His one friend was Galen, the man who tutored him since he was little how to fight. He became like a father to him. When he was wounded, Galen would stitch him up. Styxx managed to get his troops all the way to Atlantis and became known as the Stygian Omada. In one battle, he killed Xan who was Apollo’s relative. Apollo was secretly behind the war and working with the Atlantean gods so that his Apollites would take over Greece and then the world. His ultimate goal was to take down Zeus and become the ruler. Styxx angered Apollo when he killed Xan so Apollo appeared to him that night and beat him, raped him and branded his back with his mark, essentially telling all others that he owned Styxx.

Because Styxx was winning the war, the Atlantean gods decided to try to make peace and appease Apollo at the same time. They had Styxx’ father offer up Ryssa as a mistress for Apollo which ended the war.

Styxx arrived back home to a father who was ungrateful and to Apollo who was still angry with Styxx. Bet’anya figures out that Hector is really Styxx of Didymos and decides that she needs to leave him and does. Apollo has Styxx kidnapped and uses him as entertainment for the Greeks gods and then handed him over to the Atlantean queen. Apollo had one of his lackey gods masquerade as Styxx for the entire year he was in Atlantis and in Katoteros, the Atlantean god realm. It was the god masquerading as Styxx who gelded Acheron. Bet’anya finds out what was happening to Styxx and rescues him but Styxx has no idea Bet’anya and Bethany are the same person. Bet’anya looks completely different from Bethany’s human form.

Sherrilyn Kenyon wrote a book of novella’s to go along with the Dark-Hunter series. One of the books, if you read them in the order they are supposed to be read, should be read just before this book. It is about the goddess Bathymaas and a human Chthonian or god killer named Aricles. They fell in love but Apollo, who was in love with Bathymaas was jealous and ruined it for them. He tricked Bathymaas into killing Aricles by disguising Aricles as a deer. Bathymaas almost destroyed the world over it and to save the world, her father had her reborn as Bet’anya. There is a lot more to the story but that is the short version.

Styxx’ life goes on and is just as miserable as before with Apollo plotting against him, his sister and Acheron hating him and his father berating him. The one good thing was that Bethany and Styxx reunited and became engaged. She became pregnant with Styxx’ child I don’t think I’m giving the story away because, if you read the book Acheron, you know the basics up until Apollo killed Acheron just after his twenty-first birthday when Acheron received his god powers. The Atlantean queen had sent out assassins who killed and ripped apart Ryssa and her child. Acheron was so high that he was unable to help Ryssa and her child and he slept in the room next door to them. Styxx was pissed that Acheron didn’t help them so when Apollo flashed in the room, he told him that Acheron let her die. Apollo, killed Acheron which also killed Styxx.

We know that there are two ways to free Apollymi, one is if Acheron ever goes to Kalosis where she lives and the other is if he dies. When he died, she was freed. She sank Atlantis and destroyed most of Greece. She set the world back into the Stone Age. She went to Katoteros and obliterated all the gods there, turning most of them to stone. She was going to spare Bet’anya until she heard the father of her unborn child was Styxx. She had the same story as we had from Acheron’s and Ryssa’s eyes. She ripped the baby out of Bet’anya’s womb and killed Bet’anya by turning her into stone. It was so awful that I cried. Apollymi only had a second hand knowledge of Styxx through the eyes of Acheron, not the real story.

Because Artemis returned Acheron to the living, Styxx also returned to the living. We knew this or assumed this but we didn’t know what happened to Styxx afterwards. We read about him in a few books, one where he tried to kill Acheron and then we just had brief glimpses of him. What happened in this book was that Styxx also returned to life but he was now full of hatred…especially toward Acheron. He felt that Acheron had caused a lot of his misery and because his mother had put him into the womb with him, had destroyed his life. Without Bethany and Galen, his life was nothing. He wanted to die and was hell bent on killing Acheron. Artemis knew this so she sent Styxx to the Vanishing Isles. I wasn’t clear where exactly this was but there wasn’t another human on the Island. She told him that she would have supplies sent to him so he could live but after a few centuries, she stopped. He lived there for over 11,000 years alone and unable to die. He had to make his own crude tools, kill animals and dig clams to eat and cloth himself.

I would have gone insane but Styxx did not. Dionysus came to him and offered him a deal to get him off the island if he would kill Acheron. That is what we saw in a previous book.

Artemis imprisoned him alive in Tartarus and sent the goddess of memory to him who forced him to live in a tiny cell and relive Acheron’s memories over and over again. After that, Styxx tries to go on with life but he is really miserable. He tries to apologize to Acheron and asks to start over again but Acheron is rude and dismissive of him. I started to not like Acheron over it. The only one who befriends Styxx is Urian, the man Acheron saved when he was killed by his own father.

There is a lot more to the book but it would give too much away if I wrote about it. It has to do with Apollo’s vendetta against Acheron and Styxx and the gods who Apollymi turned into stone.

This book was heartbreaking but wonderful at the same time. At times, I had to take breaks from it because of the torture and abuse. There are three books of the series that I consider the best and this is one of them. The other two are Acheron and Dream Chaser about Xypher and Simone.

There are three characters that I want to see books about Jaden, Urian and Savitar. Urian and Jaden are my book boyfriends but I think one of the things I like about Urian is that he does still love Phoebe so I’m not sure if I want to see him with anyone else. Jaden just needs to be with me but I think there might be someone he loves and is protecting. Who knows though because he is so mysterious. I think Savitar has a thing for Apollymi and would like to see where that goes.

There are only two book left in the series that have been written so far but I am not going to re-read them as I have done the rest of the series because I have read both of them within the last 13 months. I am now done with my re-read of the Dark-Hunter series and it was worth it.

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