Thursday, October 13, 2011

Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Not all Dark-Hunters are from Greek and Roman times, or even the Dark Ages. Take William Jessup Brady, a gunslinger from the Wild West. Just when he was about to marry the woman he loved more than anything, he was gunned down by a man who was supposedly his friend, a man who also wanted the woman Jessup loved. Taken by Artemis to become a Dark-Hunter, Jess has never forgotten that moment, and took his revenge on the man who killed him before becoming a devoted protector to the humans he once scorned and killed.

Meanwhile, Abigail Yeager is the only survivor of a massacre that destroyed her entire family while she remained hidden. Taken in by a family of vampires, she's been raised with the belief that it was Dark-Hunters who destroyed her family, and that they are the evil ones who go after and kill, not only blameless vampires, but humans as well.To that end, they have trained her to go after and kill the Dark Hunters to keep humans and vampires safe, and Abigail is eager to both take revenge for the death of her family and protect the new family who took her in and kept her safe.

But when Jess is sent in to find out who is killing off Dark-Hunters, he's more than surprised to find out that it isn't a Daimon or some other funky race that wants to off Dark-Hunters, but a human. While Dark-Hunters have power over Weres, Apollites and the like, they are meant to protect ordinary humans, and won't kill them. But what can Jess do when he finds out that the beautiful Abigail is behind the killings? Can he persuade her that the Dark-Hunters had nothing to do with the death of her family? And what will happen if the foundation of everything Abigail believes crumbles away under her feet? Can she survive the shock of having been willfully lied to for so long?

But the death of Dark-Hunters isn't the only thing on the minds of Abigail's "family", and there is a greater purpose at play in who they are planning to kill off among the Dark-Hunters. Because the Native American God Coyote wants to get more power and have his revenge on a certain couple who were once human and rejected him- long ago powers that Abigail and Jess are heir to. If he can have them kill each other, or worse, be at each other's throats, he can easily defeat them separately. But if they should manage to get back together, and worse, come to love each other, it could seriously ruin Coyote's day.

But can Jess make Abigail see he is telling the truth, and what is going on with the strange signs of the coming apocalypse? Or will the very strangeness of what is happening all around them convince her on its own? And, more importantly, can he and the other Dark-Hunters tied to the coming apocalypse avert it and save the world from the machinations of Coyote?

Well, I've ranted about how Sherrilyn Kenyon's heros all seem to have a "worst childhood EVER" competition going on, so I won't reiterate that here, but while Jess, while he had a pretty bad one by most human standards, it wasn't as bad as some of Sherrilyn's heroes, so this was actually pretty nice to read. I'd honestly say that Abigail's was worse, because having your entire family slaughtered, raised by the people who killed them (although she didn't know it at the time), and lied to about it while being raised to kill the ones you thought was responsible? Well, that's pretty damn bad. Especially when you suddenly realize you've been lied to all these years, and the people you thought cared for you were only taking care of you and pretending to care to make you into the perfect weapon.

And in this book, we also get to see that it's not just the Gods of the Ancient world that are real- Native American gods are real, too, if somewhat less "hands-on" with their worshippers than the Greek and Atlantean Gods. But Abigail kills someone important, so she is not only being used by the vampires, but by Coyote as well.

To be honest, this book is a departure from Sherrilyn Kenyon's usual crew of Dark Hunters that hang out in New Orleans. Most of the usual suspects are missing, and cameos are sparse. A "Bonus scene" at the end of the book with Ash, Soteria, Nick and Artemis is a blatant attempt to shoehorn those characters into a novel that is completely not about them, except in the most peripheral ways. And I didn't see why Dark-Hunters had to even come into it. It felt like a new series that could just have been about the new characters and mythology without being crammed into the Dark Hunters series. It's like the League Novels, and could have been a fine stand-alone series, but trying to put it into the Dark Hunters feels more than a little out of place.

This book was an attempt at something new for Sherrilyn Kenyon, working up a new mythology and characters into her usual Dark-Hunters series. It felt a bit out of place for the Dark Hunters, and I wish she'd had the courage to turn it into a separate series rather than shoehorning it into an existing one. The attempt feels less successful and the Bonus scene is not going to be enough to satisfy fans of the New Orleans crew. It will work better if you pretend this is an entirely new series and approach it that way. It worked for me, but other readers will feel differently. Recommended, but not highly, and with big caveats to her regular Dark-Hunter fans.

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