How does an author make lovable a character that in previous books proved himself to be an arrogant, jealous, brutal sociopath that victimized his own family? Until I read Styxx I argued that it couldn’t be done, but Sherrilyn Kenyon pulled it off in amazing fashion.
Styxx is going to be almost impossible to review without spoiling, either this book or the previous books in the series, Acheron in particular. Acheron is Styxx’s twin, and it is in his book that we learn the most about Styxx and how he treated his brother. Other books in the series provide glimpses into his character as well, all adding up to one twisted, evil dude.
When they were young children the brothers’ bonds were strong, especially for Styxx, who felt that Acheron was the only person in the world that loved him. But a forced separation began an ugly pattern of misunderstanding, resentment, and torment while the twins were still just little, which was later compounded by treachery perpetrated by the adults in their lives, the Greek and Atlantean pantheon, and their psycho bitch of a sister.
OK, that was just a little spoiler, but I really hate that bitch.
This is a massive book and many of the first chapters are difficult to read. Kenyon does that intense suffering thing she does so well, and we learn that Styxx has little happiness or comfort in his life after Acheron leaves. Styxx is in complete despair when he finally meets Bethany and the romance begins, mostly stolen moments of happiness in the midst of torment.
While I found Styxx engrossing, there were times I had to put it down to give myself a break from the intensity. By “put it down” I mean “close it, hide it under the sofa cushions and leave the room”. By “intensity” I mean extreme emotional and physical abuse, rape, war, torture – you name it. If you’ve read Acheron or Born of Silence by Kenyon you’ll have a fraction of an idea of what I mean. If otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest reading this book until you’ve read at least some of the earlier books in the Dark Hunter series and Acheron, so you know at least a gist of the history. The worst of the violence and sexual abuse is related in third person, but it’s still pretty chilling.
By the time you finish Styxx, I can guarantee at least one bout of cathartic crying, more likely several. One scene in particular will rip out your guts. It makes the happy ending all that much more potent.
My one complaint was a couple of pages of extremely anachronistic and colloquial language that came out of nowhere. It felt as if the author gave those pages to a fourteen year old boy to write, and I thought to myself if the book was going to continue in that vein it would be DNF for me. The dialog sounded like something from a bad 80s movie high-school bully girl. Thankfully the writing normalized again quickly, but for that brief period I was furious and very disappointed.
When I finished Styxx I wanted to reopen to the front page and read it all over again, but couldn’t. I still can’t. It’s probably self-preservation, like refusing to jump out of a plane a second time – but I sure enjoyed that first go-round!