Book Review – Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

by Maryse on November 26, 2009 · 18 comments

in My Book Reviews, Sherrilyn Kenyon

Acheron (Dark-Hunter, Book 12)
Careful if you haven’t read the series, as Ash’s love interest is revealed towards the end of my review. I will admit I was slightly disappointed that I knew who it was before I got to that part in the book (it was my bad though, I accidentally stumbled on it while searching the web for something else)…

Acheron. To me, he is the dreamiest of all the dreamy heroes (regardless of series). The slow tantalizing build up of his character, from each book in the Dark-Hunter series, comes to a head in a long and detailed narration. We are guided through each step of his existence, from Acheron’s heritage, doomed birth, horrific life as a human, and how he becomes who he is today.

Throughout the series, we were allotted tiny pieces into Acheron’s past, and what his existence might mean to the fate of the world. While in earlier installations, he was introduced as leader of the Dark-Hunters, and the most powerful of the group, we slowly begin to realize that his all-knowing and boundless power is tied to a more intricate and omnipotent destiny.

While I absolutely enjoyed this book and specifically adored the second half (so funny, and extremely romantic), the appalling scenes of his existence, in the first part of the book, unfold relentlessly, and at times, it can get to be too much for the reader. I had to take numerous breaks to get back to the reality of life. There is no way any human could survive this kind of abuse and emotional torture, and yet Acheron does (which, conveniently, can be explained by his godly derivation).

As my friend Toni accurately described the book to me:

…they took his dreams, smashed them, lit them on fire, ground them to dust, force fed the ashes to him and beat him for processing them.

Ohhhh she was so right!

Born of Atlantean gods (his mother, Apollymi, is the goddess of death, destruction and war) and his father Archon (the king of the Atlantean gods), it was prophesied by the three Fates that he would be the end of of the Atlantean gods. His father, determined to change the outcome of the future, demands that his unborn child be destroyed.

How could he do this? For centuries she’d been trying to conceive Archon’s son – it was all she ever wanted.

A babe of her own.

Now due to the prophecy of three small girls – Archon’s jealous bastards, her child was to be sacrificed and killed.

Apollymi, desperate to save her unborn child (whom she has named Apostolos), prematurely births him, binds his godly powers, and sends him to earth to be born as a human to a queen,  and raised as royalty (so that he may be treated as a prince).

“Take him. put him in the belly of a pregnant queen. Do you understand?”

She let go and righted herself. “Um, I can do that. What about the queen’s brat?”

“Merge Apostolos’s life force with that of the queen’s child. Let her know by oracle that if my child dies, so does hers.”  That would protect him more than anything else.

But there was one more thing to be done. Apollymi jerked the white sfora from her neck and held it to Apostolos’s chest. If anyone suspected her was her son or any god detected his presence in the human realm, they would kill him instantly.

His powers would have to be bound and locked away until he was old enough and strong enough to fight back. She placed the orb to his chest and watched as his godhood slid from him to the sfora. His tiny body turned from blue ot the pale skin of humanity.

Now he would be safe. Not even the gods would know what he’d done.

The first part of the book is narrated from Ash’s sister, Ryssa’s perspective. As the queen of Greece births her twin sons, (one of them being Apostolos), the royal family quickly disown him when they notice his strange swirling silver eyes. The King has determined that his Queen has been unfaithful to him by bedding a god resulting in his birth, and refuses to acknowledge the child. The Queen, upset that her fidelity has been questioned, refuses to love and nurse the baby.

“I will not raise a monster,” my father snarled.

“You have no choice.” The wisewoman took the baby from the midwife and offered it to my mother.

Frowning, I saw a note of satisfaction in the midwife’s eyes before the beautiful blond woman made her way through the crowd to vanish from the room.

“He was born of your body, Majesty,” the wisewoman said, drawing my attention back toward her and my mother. “He is your son.”

The baby squalled even louder, reaching again for my mother. His mother. She cringed away from him, clutching her second-born even tighter than before. “I will not suckle it. I will not touch it. get it away from my sight.”

The wisewoman took the child to my father. “And what of you, Majesty? Will you not acknowledge him?”

“Never. That child is no son of mine.”

The wisewoman took a deep breath and presented the infant to the room. Her grip was loose with no lober or compassion evident in her touch.

“Then he will be called Acheron for the River of Woe. Like the river of the Underworld, his journey shall be dark, long and enduring. he will be able to give life and take it. He will walk through his life alone and abandoned – ever seeking kindness and ever finding cruelty.”

The wisewoman looked down at the infant in her hands and uttered the simple truth that would haunt the boy for the rest of his existence. “May the gods have mercy on you, little one,. No one else ever will.”

And such sets the stage and tone of Ash’s life.

Apostolos (aka “Acheron”) is abused and horribly neglected throughout his childhood, while his human twin (Styxx) is treated as the prince he is. While shunned by all who should love him, his only solace is the hidden affection bestowed upon him by his older sister.

As a young boy, he is eventually torn from his sister’s arms, and sent to live in Atantis with his uncle. While his sister is told that her brother is happy and doing well in his new home, she receives an anonymous letter indicating that her brother is in dire need of help. Arriving at her uncle’s home, she realizes that her now teenage brother has been held captive, and is routinely used as a sex slave, and severely beaten regularly. Despondent with life, and unable to understand affection or love, the subservient and fearful Acheron resists her efforts to help him escape, but is eventually “kidnapped” by her and her guard, and secretly taken to a rarely used family summer home.

I clenched my hands into fists to keep from reaching out to touch him. I just wanted to gather him into my arms and hold him until the nightmare that had been his life was completely erased from his memory.

But how? How could I make him understand that he was safe now? That no one would ever touch him without his explicit invitation? That he was free to make his own decisions and that no one would beat him for voicing his opinion?

Helping her brother heal from his physical and even deeper emotional scars, she plots to re-integrate him into their family, theorizing that her father did not know how terribly Acheron was treated, and might accept him back.

sidenote: And over and over again, this pattern is repeated. It got to the point where every time she entered the scene I couldn’t help but cringe and wanted to cry “Run away Ash! You’re going to get in trouble again!”. I truly wanted to throttle her! Always well-intentioned, and looking for a way to make Acheron happy, she insistently revolted at the unfairness of his treatment. Unfortunately, it seemed that at every possible reprieve that Acheron was afforded, his sweet but incredibly naive sister managed to get him into trouble (causing him to be cruelly and abhorrently beaten). It got to the point where I almost couldn’t feel sympathy for Acheron anymore. Despite knowing the consequences of his actions (albeit HIGHLY unfair and ridiculous for him to be treated thusly), he still always managed to follow her into his own doom.

Now hold on!! I’m not saying that he deserved it. I’m not even saying that he brought it upon himself (well, maybe just a little bit – hee hee!). I’m merely affirming that, when you are surrounded by illogical and severely flawed people who hold power over you and others, going against their rules (and being caught), WILL result in punishment…I’m just sayin’…

Well anyway, here is a very sweet and insightful sister/brother bonding moment that touched me (it was moments like these that made it so that I couldn’t hate her):

I closed my hand around his. “I don’t know the will of the gods, Acheron, no one does. But I refuse to believe that it’s their will to hurt you so. You were a precious gift that was scorned by the very ones who should have cherished you. That is a human tragedy that shouldn’t be laid at the feet of divinity. The priests often say that the gifts of the gods are sometimes hard to accept or identify, but I know in my heart that you are special. That you are a gift to humanity. Never doubt that you were placed here with some higher purpose and that purpose was not with malice or to be abused.”

Eventually, Acheron meets the god Artemis, who brings him both a sense of emotional and romantic connection. Falling in love, they spend precious moments together, while she helps heal Acheron’s physical wounds and his scarred soul.

“Have you any friends?” she asked.

He shook his head.

“Why not?”

“I suppose I’m not worthy of any.”

Artemis frowned at his reasoning. “It can’t be that. I haven’t any either and I am more than worthy. Perhaps there is a flaw to us.” She paused as she thought about that. “No, that can’t be right either. I have no flaws and yet I’m as alone as you are.”

While she seems to be genuinely sweet (albeit severely self-centered), things with Artemis never run smoothly. Abusive much? Whoa! She goes from hot to cold within seconds, and can take a healing hand and rip Ash’s heart and body to shreds with a single angry thought.

Acheron staggered back in shock as his cheek burned. Before he could recover himself, Artemis attacked him, slapping and punching. When that didn’t seem to satisfy her, she flung him against the far wall and held him there with her god’s powers.

I will protect you…

Her words rang in his as he stared down at her, waiting for her to finally kill him. Truthfully he’d rather be dead then feel the splintering in his heart over what she was doing.

She’d lied.

Poor Ash, again, he suffers abuse because he is so in love with her and doesn’t know anything else. In fact, it is because he values her love so much, that her dark side manages to inflict even deeper scars onto his psyche then from anyone in his past (as a human, and even when he gets his powers back).

As we continue to get insight into the complicated and twisted and eventually forced bond between them (that whole elaborate part could have been it’s own book in itself, but it was wonderfully laid out here for us), Ash’s book leads us into the present day Dark-Hunters, and his obligation to keep yet another Atlantis seeker off course.

Tory, Geary’s cousin (remember her from “The Dream-Hunter” book?) is determined to continue Geary’s mission where she left off, and Acheron must discourage her so that Apollymi is not released from her imprisonment spell (which would then allow her to unleash her wrath onto the world).

As Ash publicly humiliates Tory during her lectures on her findings, he is eventually forced to protect her, when they realize her crew has stumbled upon something that could lead to her death. Remember how Ash has that certain “je ne sais quoi” that unwittingly incites all to desire him and want to touch him? Well, not only do we find out what that’s all about, but Tory doesn’t seem to react that way to him at all. While she secretly is attracted to him, she finds him more annoying then anything. The funny moments between the two, and within their circle of friends, abound.

Oh hey! Here is one that had me laughing out loud! While Ash is with Tory and her friends (under the guise of protecting her from potential burglars), he is trying to get answers from his mother via his mind. At one frustrating moment, he forgets himself and publically lets loose (in his Atlantean language)

“Dammit to hell, Matera, answer me!” Ash shot off the couch in anger only to realize all three women were staring at him curiously.

Pam cleared her throat. “Any idea what he just said?”

Tory frowned. “Um…not really.”

“Wow,” Kim said with a light laugh, “some Greek the Greek princess can’t understand. I’m impressed.”

Pam arched one brow. “Must be the voices in his head that he was responding to. I just hope they’re not telling him to kill us.”

tee hee! I chuckled out loud as I typed this (it’s still funny, even now).

As their close proximity permits them to get to know one another, Tory’s apparent disinterest to Ash allows him to let his guard down and truly befriend her.

Smiling, she reached up for his glasses. “Can I take these off?”

Ash swallowed as fear tore through him. “I wish you wouldn’t.”


“Because they’ll make you uncomfortable. No one likes to look at my eyes.”

She scowled at him. “What are you? Rosemary’s baby?”

“Kind of.”

Ha!! How clever and apropos was that line? LOVED it!

Oh! Ohhhhh!! Another one that just had me giggling while I was flipping through my earmarked pages. Tory, still unaware of Ash’s true self, listens as he and another “Other” discuss some new attackers, and Ash asks:

“These Atlantikoinonia. They’re human?”

Katherine nodded.

Tory was confused by his strange question. “What else would they be? Turnips?”

LOL!!! No but really, the whole second half of the book is equally amusing!

From their initial exchange of hurling insults at one another, to their working together and becoming friends, this book will answer all of your questions, and secure Ash’s place in your heart! There is a sweet spark of romance that let’s us (as well as Tory) into Ash’s heart, and how many of you have been waiting to experience that?!

Ok so one last quote to end off with (one of my favorite romantic parts, and this was hard to choose as there were many moments that had me swooning):

One small tear slid from the corner of his right eye. Slamming them shut, he surrendered himself to her. Right now, this moment, she owned him in a way no one ever had before.

No, she didn’t own him.

He gave himself to her and for the first time, he understood the difference. He understood what it meant to make love. To share his body with someone not out of obligation or fear, but because it made them closer.

In this one heartbeat, he was hers and she was his.

This very book will lead you through a smorgasbord of emotions. From the integral romantic plot, to the sagas of the other characters, you will bond to them all. I’ll even admit, I loved Hades and Apollymi (and since Ash is taken, I think I now have a crush on Urian)… It may begin by emotionally distressing you for hours, but I promise that it will have you laughing and your heart beaming to the very end.

Wow, just realized how long this review is. I guess I got carried away ;) , but that’s easy to do with Acheron.

5 stars!!!!

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire November 26, 2009 at 11:29 PM

This was a lovely review of Acheron. My most treasured Dark Hunter book, such anticipation for it, and it didnt disappoint at all. You’re right the first part of the book very difficult to read, i spent most of it bawling my eyes out, im glad the second half was much lighter, so nice to see a different side to Ash, who knew the boy was funny?!?! hee! I still say hes mine, just on loan to Tory =)

Maryse November 26, 2009 at 11:46 PM

Thank you so much!! Yes, I will admit, I was dying to read it, but it was a bittersweet experience, since I knew I would have to hand him off to someone else at some point…Is it okay to be jealous of a fictional character? ;)

Shell December 2, 2009 at 12:27 AM

I love love love this book. Acheron is so sweet…sometimes I wish my partner was more like him lol….well, apart from all the abuse.

Maryse January 3, 2010 at 10:55 AM

I was asked a question recently and thought I’d post my answer here, too:

Q.)I’ve not yet read any of the Dark Hunter series but I thought Acheron looked interesting. Will this book stand alone or do I need to start somewhere at the beginning?

A.) I read the entire series leading up to it, so I was quite familiar with Acheron (and deeply intrigued) by the time I got to his book. I loved getting to know him, and his world, and having tidbits about him dropped through the earlier books (he really starts off as a mystery, and slowly, his secrets are revealed). By the time you get to his book, you understand it all, and appreciate him much more.

However, I do believe the book can be read on it’s own, because it is a detailed account of his life from the start. By the time you get to him in today’s world, you’ll already have a good idea of who the Dark-Hunters are, so it shouldn’t be confusing.

However, my friend was introduced to the series by first reading Acheron, and liked it so much, that she read all the rest. I will ask her what thinks…

Ohhhhhhh Lily? Any thoughts?

Zina January 13, 2010 at 12:09 PM

I have read about 14 of The Dark Hunter series. Acheron is definately my favorite. I was also upset alot during the first half, but it was worth the read. Ash is in most of her books in one way or another and it is nice to have a background on his. I also agree that he is my favorite of all the characters (though my daughter thinks Edward is).
They are all awesome reads!!!!!!

tracy0330 July 19, 2010 at 6:03 PM

The first part of the book was really tough to digest. The pain and the abuse. You will feel degraded with him as you read along. It took me months before I could read back the 1st part to confirm some details. (I need to master it for Dark hunter Quizzes online  ) For the 2nd part I wasn’t that amused by it, maybe I’m a little bias, (there are personal feelings involve you know) maybe if they could have edited Tory out that would really satisfy me. :-)
As I usually expressed I’m an Acheron and Artemis loyalist. Maybe if I were given the chance request changes in the story, I would have made some kind of turn around on Artemis’s character. Since it was released after Devil May Cry, And certain REVELATION that binds their relationship even more is released. I would have made a scenario where Artemis has to fight for Acheron and Katra. “You and me against the world thing”. That will bind them back together. Where finally, Artemis will be proud and be vocal about being Acheron’s lover and they would finally walk hand and hand in public.
On a second thought if they could have made Tory’s character a little stronger. With powers equivalent to him I would have accepted it more…
but nahhh I don’t think so… It’s just between me and Artemis I could accept. :-) :-):-) Case closed.

Maryse July 19, 2010 at 7:56 PM

LOL!!! Yes stupid Tory!!! Why her!? Grrrrr!! (joke!! she ended up being an interesting heroine, but I did love that comment of yours).

I too, found the Artemis/Acheron relationship interesting, and while at times I hated her, I found myself sad for her too, so I get it ;)

Chi-me July 19, 2010 at 8:18 PM

How I’m gonna cope if I’m ash? After everything that has happened beyond my will? It led me to think…
How can you not fight for something, regardless how ridiculous it may seem, and not try to do things that are deprived from you to do (that you deserve). Even it would cause you to be beaten? If I were in his place, I would think that whatever I do, I would be beaten anyway, so why not break the rules to experience a slight happiness. At least even for just that moment that I will be able to break free. We need to remember this is a boy who wasn’t raised from a family. Even regular beggars have a family to teach them how to ask for alms. Regular slaves who has another slave to tell them how their master sucks. Regular prisoners who has cellmates to accompany them through the darkness of the night. He has no one. No idea how the world works outside the bedroom. :-(

tracy0330 July 20, 2010 at 12:46 PM

I guess the only thing that I’m thankful for Tory’s character is the fact that at least now I could sleep at night knowing Acheron has someone beside him and someone to confide with. That’s it.
Although I still think I could make him happier.

Thu August 2, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Im reading the book. My friends told me I would cry reading it. Let see.

tracy0330 August 31, 2010 at 5:24 AM

@ Thu
Yes , it will make you cry – a lot! It will change your life and will give you a different perspective about pain, sacrifice and love… It will hunt you for days. I’ve read this book a year ago but everything is still fresh for me.

silli_girl November 18, 2010 at 12:52 PM

Ok. So I find myself not wanting to finish this book. Not that I don’t love it so far, and I LOVE reading about Ash (though I found myself shedding tears and constantly yelling at this human father, brother and sometimes Artemis for their ignorance and stubborness…ARGH!!) But its so sad to know that once I finish, Ash is going to be a taken man :( Its sooooo silly, but I remember disliking Bella so much for taking Edward away. I hate how I get so attached to characters. LOL. Not only that, but can the following books top this one? ::SIGH:: Onward and upward (hopefully).

Maryse November 18, 2010 at 1:23 PM

All I can say is….I hear ya ;)

Ash was always so untouchable, and completely single that it was fun to “crush” on him…yup. Taken…I hated it too! LOL!

bookworm December 8, 2010 at 6:22 PM

I absolutely Love the book Acheron.
The first part was sad and heartbreaking. I can’t believe what he had to endure.
All I can say now is I’m glad he found someone who truly loves him. Someone who he clearly Loves as well. I wish I was her :) one day I’ll find my Acheron hehe

KelliAnne December 22, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Best book I have ever read, hands down. This book cover is proudly tattoo’d on my right shoulder blade. From the very first book in the Dark Hunters series, there are events and facts dropped, and throughout the entire series everything that happens builds up to Acheron. If anything were different in any of the books, then Acherons book wouldn’t have worked out as flawlessly as it did. Sherrilyn Kenyon is a flat out genius, the way she made each book completely satisfying on its own, but if you read them in order you see that they are perfect stepping stones. I can’t imagine any book every topping Acheron. I could gush about it forever!!

kayleigh rogers June 10, 2012 at 9:31 PM

Ill be honest I had read katras book and when I saw ashs I wanted to read it but thought it would takes weeks to get through. I read it in a day and was completely obsessd I agree ryssa was best to give him a wide birth and I honestly don’t know he survied 21 years willing throwing himself off a balcony but I loved hades I thought he was hilarious and I could have strangled ash for humiliatinng tory(not reall) loved it when he sang to her, when he got drunk on sprite and took her an a street by street tour of atlantus and I loved it when he gave her the book and was accepted for the wonderful man he is (jackass first encouters aside) it was hard to read the first half but when she stood there and claimed him infront of everyone when he thought no one ever would was amazing

Jeimy December 31, 2013 at 10:11 AM

I haven’t read all the dark hunter books yet but I’m half way there and by the sound of Acheron’s life, I feel like it’s similar to Zarek, is it worst? I felt so much pain while reading Zarek story that I seriously thing no ones life was as hard as his… Is it true?

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