Reviewed by Tori
Born before man recorded time, I lived for thousands of years, believing myself to be something I’m not.
Someone I’m not.
Lied to and betrayed by gods, Daimons, and Dark-Hunters, I’ve struggled to find my way in a world where I’ve been cursed since the moment a vengeful goddess prematurely ripped me from my mother and planted me into the womb of an innocent woman who thought me her son.
Trained as a slayer and predator, I’ve learned to fit in and stay low. To become a tool for evil. Until I was sent to kill the one woman I couldn’t. My hesitation cost her, her life.
Or so I thought. In an act of betrayal that makes all the others pale in comparison, I’ve learned that things are not what they seem in this world and that my Phoebe still lives.
Now I will have to travel into the very pits of Hades to try and save her, even as everyone around me attempts to steal what little soul I have left. There’s only one person at my back and I’m not sure I can trust her either, for she was born of an enemy race. Yet sometimes the road to redemption is one that singes us to our very core. And if I fail to find the answers I need to save Phoebe, more than just my wife will die.
We will lose the world. Both human and Daimon.
~Urian of the House of Aricles
I want to first note that there will be some spoilers in this review. Can’t be helped. We are 27 books in. You can’t start here. If you do, you will have no idea what is going on. I started at the beginning and I’m confused.
I’m not sure where to begin with this review so it’s going to see a little rambly. Urian has always been an enjoyable secondary character, one of many in Kenyon’s stable, though not a staring player. That was until he teamed up with Archeron after his father, Stryker, attempted to kill him. Alone and heartbroken after his secret wife was murdered, he vowed Stryker enemy #1. He became much more noteworthy after he befriended Styxx only to learn Styxx and Bethany were his real parents and the reason behind his “abduction.” We thought we knew it all but as with most of Kenyon’s crew, there is always more to the story…and now we get Urian’s.
Stygian is set up just like Acheron and Styxx. Beginning in the past, the story slowly brings us to the present and ends with a glimpse into the future. A hodgepodge of various other key events from previous books (Kiss of the Night, One Silent Night, Acheron, Styxx, Son of No One, & Dragonsworn) fills the book. The first half is Urian’s childhood and foray into adulthood. We see how deeply he loved his mother, father & siblings. We once again see how Apollo cursed his people and why and how those results birthed the Daimons. Frankly, a majority of the book is really nothing more than a recap of everything that has happened since Kiss of the Night from Urian’s point of view. There are so many plot inconsistencies and character 180s; I had to keep dragging out the other books to see if maybe I was remembering things wrong.
No, I wasn’t.
And I don’t even want to get started on all the answers we thought we would be getting that didn’t happen.
I’m not sure if I’m the only one feeling this way but in my opinion, Kenyon has jumped shark so many times I have no idea what is going on half the time anymore. The continuous copy/paste doesn’t help. Multiple plotlines and the misdirection Kenyon introduces with her POV stories have the main arc branching in so many directions that I feel Kenyon has begun to lose control of the series. She has begun to cross-promote characters from other series as a way to create some cohesion but in reality, it only adds to the confusion.
For example, in Dragonsworn, we see her referencing her Lords of Avalon series and using the Camelot canon to create yet another storyline. In Death Doesn’t Bargain (Deadman’s Crossing series), we interact with Ash, Savitar, and the Malachai. I think Kenyon is leading up to the Malachai’s defection or Apollymi’s lover, Kesser. Who, by the way, is a new addition. Oy vey. This universe is out of control. And Kenyon isn’t addressing any of it. We still don’t know who is messing with the timeline (first addressed in Retribution & later in Styxx). Has anyone else figured out M’Doc is related to Nick yet (Dream Hunter)? I’m still lost on why Max betrayed Falcyn and where/what the hell is Tiyana Devereaux (Son of No One)? And for the love of God, what is the connection between Jared and Jaden? Besties? Siblings? Lovers? This has dragged out long enough.
I need answers, not another 20 books.
Urian’s evolution from his childhood and the events that led up to his switching sides was interesting. I liked seeing his relationship with Stryker and it drove home the pain felt by what the other viewed as the ultimate betrayal. Everything else was fodder. Once we crossed over into the present, I had to wonder why so much time was spent on his past. Nothing Urian did in his past affected the world much beyond his own. What I really wanted to see some of the emotional fallout from all the revelations we had garnered from Styxx. There was hardly any dealings with Styxx and Bethany. These are his parents that he was STOLEN from. Ripped from the womb and magically embedded into another woman. Come on! They don’t even get a solid page of interaction. How could Kenyon ignore this HUGE moment? And then Kenyon completely glosses over Urian’s pain and anger towards Apollymi.
I think the worst part for me, the point where I felt so let down, was Kenyon’s dealing of Urian’s personal life and his ex-wife, Phoebe. Every book that has featured Urian has never failed to mention at least once of Urian’s complete and utter devotion to his dead wife. He lost everything when she was murdered. That was his shtick-the forever grieving widow. Kenyon destroys all that by alluding to Urian’s multiple relationships and the fact that he proclaimed to have loved them all. Can I buy he’s had other women in his life? Sure. After all, he’s centuries old. But there has never been a mention in any other book of a previous lover. I was honestly shocked when Dragonsworn introduces one of those lovers and we get nothing from Urian. Nada. He’s all quiet as a churchmouse. Then we see the same scene here and it’s completely different. He’s shocked she’s alive and internally exclaims his feelings towards her never ended. She is apparently his HEA and a way for Kenyon to further integrate the dragon storyline into the main one. But what about Phoebe? Kenyon’s clumsy attempt to sidestep the obvious and ram through her endgame was disingenuous. As was Phoebe’s attitude towards Urian and the whole situation.
The ending comes at us fast with minimal effort on Kenyon’s part. I can’t say I’m super disappointed because I honestly wasn’t expecting this book. I thought it would be Savitar’s. In fact, I’m still sitting here wondering as I type this WHY he even got this major of a reveal. Did I like it? Eh. It was okay but more because I’m used to this world and characters. I think we give more leeway to stories we have formed an attachment with. I just really wish it wasn’t so crammed full of recycled content. Especially coming off of Dragonsworn. I miss the old Dark Hunter books that were strong in the romance department with uncomplicated storylines.