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).
So with these two mitigating circumstances out of the way, I also think the book is all over the place. Really, look at this:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Arik’s brother Solin has his own agenda why he’s helping Arik.
- Kat seems to have her own agenda, too.
- 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.
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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)