Sherrilyn Kenyon – “The Dream Hunter”

7 Aug

Kenyon, Sherrilyn - Dream Hunter
GENRE: Romance, Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Piatkus Books, 2007

SERIES: “The Dream Hunter” series #1 (“The Dark Hunter” series #???)

WHY THIS NOVEL: I found it for 3 € in a bargain bin. Finding books in English there = rare; finding romance novels in English = rare, rare, rare, so I bought it.

In the ethereal world of dreams there are champions who fight to protect the dreamer and there are demons who prey on them …

Arik is such a predator. Condemned by the gods to live for eternity without emotions, Arik can only feel when he’s in the dreams of others. Now, after thousands of years, he’s finally found a dreamer whose vivid mind can fill his emptiness.

Dr. Megeara Kafieri made a reluctant promise to her dying father that she would salvage his reputation by provin his life-long belief that Atlantis is real. But frustration and bad luck dog her every step. Especially the day they find a stranger floating in the sea. His is a face she’s seen many times … in her dreams.

What she doesn’t know is that Arik has made a pact with the god Hades: in exchange for two weeks as a mortal man, he must return to Olympus with a human soul. Mageara’s soul.

I’ve already mentioned that I had trouble getting into this novel. It took me nearly a week to finish it. Even more damning, I had to persuade myself to read instead of doing something else. To be fair, I was very distracted by one other thing that took up nearly all of my free time in that week. But I also think the fact that I had no trouble putting the book down, or not even picking it up, for something else is telling, too.

I also wondered about how much of my trouble getting into this novel stemmed from the fact that I hadn’t read the other novels in this series. The Dream Hunter is my first novel by Sherrilyn Kenyon (although I’ve read and liked Born in Sin which she’s written under the name Kinley MacGregor).

The plots

So with these two mitigating circumstances out of the way, I also think the book is all over the place. Really, look at this:

  1. The hero, Arik, makes a bargain with Hades so that he can experience in the flesh the incredibly sex he has with the heroine, Megeara, in her dreams. The price: Megeara’s soul. She has to die after the two weeks Hades granted Arik are over.
  2. The Onoroi keep dream hunters like Arik (called Skotos) in line so that they don’t mess with human dreams too much. With Arik going human, they are afraid that Zeus will catch on to the fact that the curse which denies dream hunters emotions is weakening. To protect themselves, they sick the Dolophonis on Arik to kill him.
  3. Artemis isn’t happy that Megeara is looking for Atlantis. She sent one of her servants, Kat, to keep an eye on Megeara. She also meddles on her own.
  4. Then there’s Zebulon, or ZT, a Chthonian or god killer because they have so much power that they could. he watches over mankind is pissed at what’s happening.
  5. Arik’s brother Solin has his own agenda why he’s helping Arik.
  6. Kat seems to have her own agenda, too.
  7. And lastly, and I think that’s supposed to be the most important point besides #1, Megeara’s finding and poking around Atlantis might release Apollymi, the Destroyer, from her seal. And that’s something none of the various gods and factions wants really to see.

That’s enough plot for several novels, IMO.

Other problems

Add to that two main characters who seemed to be written according to a checklist and who often just go blithely along, forgetting what happened a few pages before, and The Dream Hunter seemed like a rather “whimsical” novel. It jumped from one thing to the other. One moment it was this, the next it was that without a real connection. There’s for example the fact that Apollymi, if released, is very likely to destoy the world in her wrath. But that doesn’t seem to enter Megeara’s mind when she considers making a deal with her because Arik’s life is at stake.

The erratic impression is strengthened even further by the several (necessary) POV characters. But even though the various sub plots require a lot of POV characters, Kenyon does change POV characters more often than is really needed, IMO. Like in one of the dream sex scenes, for example (140/141). It’s like ping pong so that you get the emotions and feelings of both characters involved. And was is really necessary to interrupt an upcoming action scene for two pages to give me the details of all of Arik’s ten attackers (144-146)?

So all that kept me from getting into the story. But there’s more. Like Megeara’s special specialness or the often forced humor (Artemis language problems? Too silly on top of all the other things for me). Or the fact that Arik has kept his powers in his dreams while he’s human even though this shouldn’t be possible (but it allows for some hot kissing because Megeara is rather frosty by day). In general, I thought the story relied too much on deus ex machina devices.

So why did I continue to read it?

  1. I wanted to find out how (or if) Arik’s attraction to Megeara turned from being based on lust and sex to being based on her character. Why does he love her?
  2. I was interested in seeing how Arik handled to suddenly have emotions, which is compelling conflict, IMO. I guess I was thinking of Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series.
  3. I expected a laugh or two out of the fact that the world in dreams and the world in reality follows different.

And yeah, I finally settled into reading. But sadly, I have to say that at the end of the novel, I still have no idea why Megeara and Arik love each other. And there wasn’t much about point #2 and #3, either; maybe some interesting tidbits concerning Arik’s deal with Hades (on 2-3 pages). But overall, nothing much came of all the plots. Most of them meander off to who knows where, and all in all, I think this novel would have been better off as a short story.

Final thoughts:

  • I thought the Greek mythology background fun, something different.
  • I thought it ironic that Mageara is so willing to let the whole world go to hell if only Arik won’t get executed upon his return to his world (never mind the fact that if the whole world is blown apart, Arik being human will kill him jsut the same) and that Arik, on the other hand, recognized how wrong his deal with Hades was.

Verdict: This probably wasn’t the best introduction to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s world and I don’t have any idea if my impression would have been different if I’d read the whole series. As it is now, I see The Dream Hunter as a novel that has too much going and barely touches open the surface of its elements before it moves on to the next crisis/melodrama/idea which most often get solved by deus ex machina devices. Especially the romantic conflict and the romance itself suffered under it and felt rather underdeveloped. (2/5)

8 Responses to “Sherrilyn Kenyon – “The Dream Hunter””

  1. nath Friday, August 7, 2009 at 7:08 pm #

    I don’t think that it matters really whether you’ve read the Dark Hunter series or not, since this takes place before the Dark-Hunter series started. You might have been more familiar with the mythology, but that’s it.

    And then, even having read the Dark Hunter series, I don’t think you’d have enjoyed it more… I mean, look at me and Christine’s opinions, LOL πŸ˜›

    My problem with Sherrilyn Kenyon is that she just has too much going on. She keeps making this series more complex, adding this plotline, these demons, etc. It’s just crazy and stupid. Then, there’s the sequel baiting. Ugh.

  2. Taja Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    Nath – Not knowing how this fit in with the other books, I just worried a bit about sounding too harsh, I guess. I was torn between grading it 2,5/5 or 2/5 though I can’t really explain why I went with 2/5 in the end. LOL

    Thanks for your opinion on this series, and I’ll remember, no Once Upon a Midnight Clear for me. πŸ˜‰

  3. Christine Monday, August 10, 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    What nath said.

    I think I would have given Dream Hunter a C when I read it. Which again, if you know my reviews and tastes, a C isn’t that great a grade from me at all. I think I had just caught up on the whole Dark Hunter back list when I read Dream Hunter. In other words, it was the first Kenyon book I actually had to wait for to release. So I was very familiar with the mythology and series arc when I read it, and I think it helped me follow all those subplots going on, even though they all took place prior. Anyway, maybe the Dark Hunter and Dream Hunter series aren’t for you. Maybe they’re not for nath or me, either, but it’s too late for us. We’re way too emotionally vested and it’s really hard break away. LOL I’m hopeful I’ll be able to break free after I read Bad Moon Rising in paperback. πŸ˜‰

  4. Taja Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 12:00 am #

    Christine – okay, so it’s not that I just don’t get it. Thanks! I looked around a bit and I’ve the impression that the earlier books in the Dark Hunter series are the most favorite. I also think I have another of her books as an ebook, maybe I’ll take a look at that one some day.

    LOL about it being too late for you and Nath. πŸ™‚ Oh, and did you see? She posted her review for Bad Moon Rising already. πŸ˜›

  5. Christine Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 3:51 am #

    Thanks. I went and checked out Nath’s review of BMM. The book sounds great to me. πŸ˜†

  6. Taja Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    Christine – LOL! Then I hope you don’t have to wait too long for the book in paperback!

  7. nath Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    LOL, not sure I’m emotionally invested in them, Christine. Invested yes, but emotional… nope.

  8. Christine Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Oh, sorry I spoke for your emotional investment in the series … or the lack thereof, as it turns out. LOL

    Actually, I’m probably with you. After Fang & Aimee’s story, I’m not sure who else I’d be willing to hang around for. Possibly for Nick’s spin off series, but I’m definitely going to hold off on that one until I hear from other readers and reviews what it’s like.

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