Susan Michaels was one of the most respected investigative journalists in Washington, D.C. until a story gone bad left her blacklisted from serious news organizations. Now she's been reduced to working at a sensational tabloid newspaper in Seattle run by an old college friend, writing crazy stories about killer moths and alien babies. Susan doesn't believe in the things that go bump in the night, so when a dear friend on the police force starts telling her about an unholy alliance between humans in high places and the forces of darkness, she thinks he's cracked under stress. That is, until the cat she temporarily adopts as a cover for their secret meeting suddenly turns into a naked man in the middle of her living room.
Ravyn Kontis is an Arcadian Were-Hunter who turned Dark-Hunter three hundred years ago. While waiting on his squire to pick him up after a rough night, Ravyn finds himself abducted by his enemies while still in his cat form and locked up in an animal shelter. The pretty lady who "adopts" him may be his only chance for survival. Not long after he awakens on her floor, the pair find themselves attacked by men who appear to be police officers. Ravyn is able to fight them off, and thinking that Susan is a new squire, he takes her to a covert Dark-Hunter lair. She now knows too much, so once they discover her true identity, she only has two choices: actually become a squire or die. Susan has a hard time absorbing all the craziness of the past few hours, but the curious reporter in her can't resist learning more. She, Ravyn and the other Dark-Hunters and squires will have to work together to bring down the corruption ring while running for their very lives from the evil forces who are trying to take over the city.
Dark Side of the Moon got off to an excellent start, thoroughly tickling my funny bone. The heroine is a serious investigative journalist who got fired after a story went bad and has now been reduced to writing stories about alien babies and killer moths for a Weekly World News style tabloid. The conversation she has with her boss in the opening chapter about her moth piece and sensational headlines had me grinning from ear to ear. Then we meet the hero, a Were-Hunter, in his animal form, which at that moment happened to be an adorable but very ticked off house-cat who's stuck in a cage at an animal shelter. The way he was hissing and spitting at his captors, especially when they threatened to neuter him, was hilarious. Add to that the heroine "adopting" him in spite of being terribly allergic to cats and taking him outside where the poor baby's fur kept getting singed by the sun, creating a horrible stench in her car, and I thought that the book had the makings of something truly LOL funny. Unfortunately, this was just the first thirty pages or so of the story and after that, it was just never quite as humorous again, unless you count the author's numerous cheesy jokes which just never seem to do a whole lot for me.
While Dark Side of the Moon had a certain sameness to its characters and situations, there were some unique elements to it as well. Some of this uniqueness was what I consider "good," because it added to the Dark-Hunter world-building. To begin with, the hero was the first Dark-Hunter/Were-Hunter hybrid. His form is that of a leopard, but as I mentioned above he can shrink down to the size of a house-cat. I would have loved to see more of him in this form, but as an Arcadian rather than a Katagaria, I suppose there was less call for him to take on his animal shape. This book also has the first alliance between humans and Daimons which made for a bit of mystery as to why these two species would be working together. This was an interesting side-story, but I would have liked to have seen a little more actual investigating considering that the heroine is a reporter. By the end, the reader also gets a glimpse at a demigod in the making, although I was rather on the fence about this since I thought that demigods were born not "created." However, I think this sub-plot may be part of a huge build-up to Acheron's story and in a roundabout way, may have revealed some things about his background, so I'm willing to let it slide for the moment. Then there were differences that I consider to be "bad" (or at least not well explained) such as the Dark-Hunters and Squires breaking/bending rules left and right, particularly those prohibiting blood-drinking and mating/marrying, seemingly without consequence. Not that there hasn't been some occasional rebellion in the ranks before, but it seemed especially egregious in this book. There was also a secondary Dark-Hunter who was implied to have been turned Daimon, but if that's the case, I don't entirely understand how, as it wasn't really explained. Lastly, the ending for the hero and heroine was different than that of other Dark-Hunters who have found their mates to this point. I think it was intended to address the life-span issue between a human and a Were-Hunter, but logically, it didn't make sense to me.
Ravyn and Susan were nice enough as the hero and heroine, but even after learning both their back-stories, which were quite sad, I still couldn't seem to make a deep connection with them or muster much enthusiasm for them. I liked the way Ravyn showed Susan many small but thoughtful kindnesses, and I liked how Susan took care of Ravyn when he was drugged. Also, Ravyn's surprising compassion for others in general, made me feel some small emotional connection to him, but as a couple, they just didn't spark off the pages for me like some of Sherrilyn Kenyon's other heroes and heroines. I think this was owing in some part to the author's penchant for having her stories take place over a mere few days time. Everything just happened too quickly to make them falling in love believable to me. Even though Ravyn and Susan spent some time talking about their backgrounds, it felt more like sympathy and lust, than a true intimate and loving bond that comes from knowing someone for a while. There just needed to be deeper, more meaningful character development for me to buy into a lasting relationship.
Even though the story is set in Seattle, far away from the Dark-Hunters home base of New Orleans, there were a number of character sitings, both new and old. The Seattle contingent of Dark-Hunters are mostly new characters with the possible exception of Zoe who I believe made one or two brief appearances elsewhere. I was intrigued by Cael with his kilt and Scottish accent, and I have a feeling he will play a role in future stories. There are also a number of characters reappearing including the Squires, Otto and Kyle, and the goddess, Artemis. Savitar puts in a brief appearance, and I find myself still on the fence about him, as he seems too arrogant and self-centered for my taste. Stryker plays a big role, once again as the villain. There was a little more development to his character this time, but I continue to have a hard time seeing how he's going to be redeemed sufficiently to have his own book. We also get to really see Nick again for the first time since he was turned Dark-Hunter at the end of Seize the Night. He is obviously no ordinary Dark-Hunter to begin with and even less so by the end of this book. I dearly miss his sarcastic humor. He's now a bitter, angry shell of his former self who only seems to be living to seek revenge against Acheron. Then, of course, there's the amazing Ash, who never fails to steal the show. I so admire him for the way he grieves deeply over every lost Dark-Hunter and over his lost friendship with Nick. It's one of the things that makes him so human and relatable. As usual he is as sweet as can be while continually getting screwed over by Artemis which seems to be causing some friction with the Dark-Hunters and the possible beginnings of rebellion against him. I truly can't wait for his book to see him finally be free of her clutches.
Dark Side of the Moon had some decent action sequences, but it also probably had an equal number of instances where the story seemed to plod along. This was, in part, due to Ms. Kenyon's penchant for repetition. I realize that she likes to do this so that new readers who may jump into the middle of the series will be up to speed, but for someone like me, who has been following the series religiously from the very beginning, it's nothing but a bunch of filler that can be easily skipped. Not to mention, when she starts repeating stuff from earlier in the same story, it can actually become annoying. The author also has a tendency to overuse certain words such as "Uh-huh" and one character calling another male character, "boy," as well as the phrase "begs the question" which happens to be an incorrect usage of the expression anyway.
Overall, in spite of my criticisms, Dark Side of the Moon was a decent story in the Dark-Hunter series. I just wish that Ms. Kenyon had pared down the repetition in favor of better character and relationship development between Ravyn and Susan. As is, it happened to be one of those books in the series where, generally speaking, I was more interested in some of the sub-plots about other characters like Acheron, Nick and Cael than I was in the main romance. For the bits and pieces that were added to the bigger Dark-Hunter story arc, I definitely recommend it to fans. Dark Side of the Moon is book #9 in the Dark-Hunter series. There are currently a total of 19 full-length novels in the series and quite a number of related novellas and graphic novels as well, with more still to come (#20 is due for release in Aug. 2011). A complete list of all the books and their recommended reading order can be found on Sherrilyn Kenyon's website.
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