Dr. Megeara Kafieri spent her whole life thinking that her father was crazy for believing in the lost civilization of Atlantis and trying to avoid the stigma that his name brought to her in the academic circles where she was trying to succeed as a serious anthropologist. In an attempt to make peace with him on his deathbed, Geary made a promise to continue his work, never intending to do any such thing. However, upon his death she received a package containing mysterious artifacts which she now believes to prove her father's work valid. After years of searching, Geary believes that she has finally found Atlantis, but the Greek government won't give her the necessary permits to excavate the site. In sheer frustration, Geary is about to give up when her crew rescues a handsome, enigmatic stranger who was drowning in the middle of ocean, and the man looks exactly like the one who has been starring in her sexy dreams.
Arikos is a dream god who is cursed to live his life without ever experiencing any emotions. He can only siphon the feelings of those whose dreams he shares. Most humans bore him, but Megeara's dreams are so vivid he can't help being drawn to her. Arik wants to know what it would feel like to have human emotions and have Geary in his arms in the flesh. He makes a pact with Hades to do just that, but Hades' price for helping Arik is one human soul...Geary's soul. Thinking he will have no trouble following through with the deal, Arik agrees, but once he knows what love is, he realizes he will never be able to let Geary go. Wanting to see Geary happy, he also helps her in her quest to find Atlantis, but there are many who do not wish it to be found. Arik and Geary will have to face death-defying odds and the underworld itself in order to experience a lifetime of love.
The Dream-Hunter was the sixth story in the Dark-Hunter series that I've read this year, and I'm beginning to think that perhaps I've read too many of them in too short a time span. I've been quite anxious to get to Acheron, and in my haste to make headway in this exceedingly long series, I'm starting to become rather apathetic about it. I had really enjoyed Phantom Lover, a Dream-Hunter novella that came early in the series, so I thought that in spite of the Dream-Hunter books generally not being fan faves that I might like them better than others did. Unfortunately, this first full-length Dream-Hunter novel ended up being as lackluster for me as it was for many other readers.
Arik and Geary were fairly likable characters, but I just never felt like I got to know them very well. Arik had spent his immortal life as an Oneroi (a dream god) in an emotionless state, until he went Skotos (basically the bad side of the Oneroi). Even then he could only feed off the emotions of the humans whose dreams he shared. When he found Geary, her dreams were so vivid they made him want to find out what it would be like to have human emotions, so he made a deal with Hades to make that possible. We eventually find out that Arik's emotions were essentially beaten out of him at an early age and between that and the punishments he received for defying the Oneroi, he carried many physical scars. Because of this, Arik could have been an extremely tortured hero, but he never really seemed like one to me. At times, it felt like he was almost as emotionless as he would have been had he remained Skotos. Mostly, it just seemed like I was being told about his feelings rather than experiencing them. Initially, the author did a pretty good job of bringing out how Arik felt when he first found out what it was like being human, how all the stimuli around him was an assault to his senses and emotions. However, for someone who had basically lived in a state of sensory and emotional deprivation for hundreds of years, he adjusted a little too quickly in my opinion. It was also cute how he didn't really know much about the human world, and was almost like a kid experiencing certain things for the first time. I really wish that more of these moments had been included in the story.
Geary is an anthropologist who is carrying on her father's work of trying to locate the lost civilization of Atlantis. She is having difficulty getting the necessary permits to excavate on the ocean floor, but when Arik arrives in human form, he is able to pull strings and cut through the red tape for her. For some reason which I never quite figured out, she is able to hear the voice of Apollymi, the Destroyer goddess of Atlantis (and Ash's mother). It may have had something to do with the Atlantean artifacts that her father left her, but it almost seemed for a while like there was something special about Geary herself that made it possible. Maybe I missed something along the way, but that part was rather confusing to me. In the end, Geary had to show a lot of strength and fortitude to rescue Arik from his fate, but in spite of that, she was just never a stand-out character to me.
I had high hopes for this couple at the beginning of the story. The main thing that had drawn me into Phantom Lover was the whole concept of the hero and heroine meeting in her dreams. Since the same thing happened in The Dream-Hunter, it got off to a good start. I really enjoyed the dream sequences, and Geary's reaction to seeing Arik in the flesh for the first time after he had starred in her steamy dreams was pretty intense, almost like sparks were flying off the page. Sadly, that was pretty much where the romance ended for me. I just didn't feel the same deep connection between them after the dream sequences ended. All in all, I felt like there was a lot of potential in these two characters and their relationship, but in my opinion, it was never fully realized. It seemed to me like their romance got rather sidetracked and overshadowed by all the mythology and god politics.
There were several aspects of this story that were rather muddled and confusing to me, not the least of which were some of the characters' motives. Geary had spent her whole life thinking her father was a crack-pot just like everyone else, but then a couple of artifacts that seemed like no more than trinkets, instantly changed her mind and make her believe wholeheartedly in Atlantis and continue her father's work. I also never quite understood why her father didn't show her these things when he was alive. Arik's brother, Solin, seems to want revenge on Arik, but then helps him instead which didn't make a lot of sense. Apollymi's entire agenda to this point has been getting free from Kalosis. She tries to bargain with Geary to let her out, but then when Geary refuses, she still helps her anyway which I didn't understand either. The Oneroi triumvirate had never seemed to be mean or violent before, but in this book at least one of them turns menacing. Overall, it just seemed like the characters' minds could change in a heartbeat and everything in general happened a bit too easily and without enough detail and explanation to suit me.
I felt the writing in general could have used more polish and did not reflect the seasoned author that Ms. Kenyon is. As with past books in the series, she way overuses the phrases, "Excuse me?" and "You have no idea," as well as the word, "it'd". I've always found that to be a very clunky contraction that doesn't flow well either in my mind or off my tongue, so the repeated use of it started to grate. Also, the phrases I mentioned, among other things, in my opinion, give the dialog a rather juvenile feel. Additionally, there were places where I felt that the dialog dragged and was nothing more than unnecessary filler.
Being a Dream-Hunter novel, there weren't a lot of carryover characters which in a way was a blessing, because I was already confused enough by all the god politics. However, the three Dream-Hunter leaders, M'Adoc, M'Ordant, and D'Alerian, who have all appeared in previous books, returned, as did Artemis' handmaiden, Kat, who becomes the heroine of the next full-length novel in the series, Devil May Cry. After her appearance in Seize the Night, I thought that Kat might become Ash's heroine, because she obviously loves him very much. I think I now have an idea as to why that is, and why she won't be romantically involved with Ash after all. However, Ash's true heroine, Tory, is introduced in this book, and is probably the single-most important reason for reading it. As The Dream-Hunter takes place about a decade before the first book of the Dark-Hunter series, Tory is only a teenager, but she is a geeky genius which I can appreciate. Hopefully, she will eventually grow into her role as a worthy mate for Ash. At the end, we also get a very brief visit with Ash, Kyrian and Nick (also as a teenager), but in my opinion, it didn't add much to the story and was just more filler.
From my many criticisms, it might sound like I would have marked the The Dream-Hunter lower than the 3.5 stars I gave it, but it didn't entirely bore me. I was just rather confused at times. I'm also trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, since I was extremely tired and having trouble staying awake while reading it. With that in mind, I feel I might have missed something important that I wouldn't have had I been more alert. In any case, I think I'll be laying the Dark-Hunter series aside for a while. Even without my fatigue factoring in, I'm simply becoming burned out on the series and Ms. Kenyon's writing in general, and definitely want to be in a better state of mind when I do get to Ash's book. Hopefully, taking a time out will help me to return to the series fresher and more ready to handle the author's quirks that can sometimes irritate me.
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