Many millennia ago, Sin was a Sumerian god. After being betrayed by an unfaithful wife, Sin met the goddess, Artemis and was sorely tempted to have an affair with her. Little did he know however, that Artemis only wanted him for his powers of which she deftly robbed him. Now hideous demons that were created by the Sumerian gods for protection are about to be unleashed on mankind, and Sin may be the only one who can save the world from total annihilation. The demons can only be stopped by a Sumerian, and Sin and his missing brother are the only remaining members of the Sumerian pantheon. Still, he has little with which to defend himself, much less all of mankind, and finds himself needing to rely on the one person who took everything from him.
Although she has never officially been recognized as a goddess, Katra wields more power than many of the gods of Olympus. Eons ago, thinking she was protecting Artemis, Katra did as the goddess bade her and took Sin's powers from him. Throughout the years, Sin has slowly been collecting Sumerian artifacts which hold powerful charms. Artemis, believing that Sin may now have the power to kill her for revenge, sends Kat to assassinate him. But the man Kat finds is not what she expected. Sin actually cares about all humankind just like she does, and when he shares with her that the demons are about to destroy the world unless he can stop them, Kat knows she must help him. But will Sin ever be able to trust someone as close to Artemis as Kat is, especially when he learns that she was really the one who took his powers?
This far along in the Dark-Hunter series, there are still things that I enjoy about it. The characters are usually likable and generally relatable, the Greek mythology woven into the stories is interesting, and the overall Dark-Hunter concept is intriguing. These things, as well as being a huge fan of Acheron and very much wanting to read his story, have kept me coming back and slowly working my way though the series. However, lately, whenever I pick up one of these books, I seem to have a harder and harder time getting past some of Sherrilyn Kenyon's writing quirks to really be able to enjoy the story she is telling. I know for a while there Ms. Kenyon was publishing an almost unbelievable number of novels and novellas per year (far more than most authors I read), and I think that the rapid pace at which she was writing these books shows through in the lack of quality. When I'm feeling like taking my red editor's pen to a book and rewriting passages in my head while reading, it isn't a good sign.
Now that I'm a writer myself and learning the do's and don't's of writing, I keep seeing more and more writing no-no's in Ms. Kenyon's work. To begin with, her books tend to have a lot of repetitiveness not just from book to book, but within each individual book. The dialog can be a little too long-winded and often leans toward being cheesy and juvenile. With Ms. Kenyon being a huge Buffy, the Vampire Slayer fan, I think she's going for that kind of sarcasm, but sometimes just doesn't know when to reign it in. Also, most writers and editors I've talked with have said there should be no head-hopping, yet Ms. Kenyon does this constantly. Sometimes she switches between several different characters multiple times within a single chapter, which as a reader, can be frustrating to keep up with. Last but certainly not least, a large amount of the narrative prose in Devil May Cry was written in a passive voice with an overuse of "be" verbs which would probably explain a large part of why I didn't feel deeply connected to the characters. A few times, I experimented with rewriting some sentences in a more active voice and found that the narrative would have really popped if Ms. Kenyon and/or her editor had given more care to this process.
Another issue I had with Devil May Cry was the number of poorly explained occurrences which seemed more like plot holes. Probably the most glaring one was Kat getting bitten by a gallu, but no one realizing it until she falls ill. Now the gallu are vicious demons, so I couldn't help wondering wouldn't Kat have known that she was bitten, and if she did, wouldn't she have told Sin, knowing how dangerous a gallu bite could be? Granted there were some intense and emotional scenes following the revelation, but overall, it seemed like a too-convenient set-up for bringing Ash into the mix and creating a permanent bond between Sin and Kat. Long after the fact, Kat finally acknowledges that she knew she'd been bitten but forgot. Really? How does one forget being bitten by a monstrous demon? I know I certainly wouldn't have, and in my opinion, this weak excuse made Kat look completely incompetent as a warrior goddess. I think Ms. Kenyon could have done a lot better with that one. Another thing that didn't make sense to me was that Kat said she could access Apollymi's powers, but at no point during the story did she do so. It seemed to me that if Kat could use the destroyer goddess's power, she probably could have wiped out the demon invasion all on her own, but for some unknown reason, it didn't work that way. These are just two of the more prominent things that left me scratching my head.
This may be more of a personal preference, but I've always disliked Sherrilyn Kenyon's habit of introducing surprise powers or surprise characters with the needed powers to make things work out. It's almost like each and every book is nothing more than a series of mini deuce ex machina moments. It makes me feel like the characters don't have to work as hard for their victories, because there will always be a fail-safe. By the same token, I find it annoying when a character's powers and magical devices arbitrarily work or don't work to suit the story. An example of this is that Sin and Kat use a sfora given to her by Acheron to locate Sin's brother, Zakar, but when Zakar disappears again later, Sin and Kat just stand around for several pages wondering how they'll find him again, eventually coming to the conclusion that they'll just have to wait for him to return. I wanted to jump into the story and say, "Hello, use the sfora again!" Finally, they think of that, but then the device doesn't work for some unexplained reason. To me, relying on this type of storytelling is not only lazy, but it confuses the overall mythology of the series to the point that it's about as clear as mud. I never have any idea who can do what, because as soon as I try to figure it out, they're sure to find some untapped power source or their powers will quit working or some other equally ridiculous thing will happen.
Up to this point, I know I've been pretty critical, so I'm going to try to add a few positives here. Even though I felt like they were somewhat underdeveloped as characters, I did like Sin and Kat as the hero and heroine. Although Sin's past wasn't brought out in as stark relief as some of the other tortured heroes in this series, he was a tormented soul nonetheless. I sympathized with him not trusting anyone because of having been betrayed so many times in his life. He was also robbed of most of his god-powers, and when he finds out who did that to him, he is understandably upset, although he does come around rather quickly in spite of it. Although she isn't officially a goddess, Kat wields more power than many of the gods. She is a tough girl who can handle herself pretty well, but at the same time she has great compassion for humanity. When Kat's parentage was revealed, I guess it wasn't too surprising, but at the same time, I had very mixed feeling about her mother's and father's identities, mainly because I didn't really want these two characters connected in that way. However, I can't say much more about that without giving away a big spoiler.
Sin and Kat made a nice couple, but I can't say that I felt a deep connection between them. As with most of the stories in the Dark-Hunter series, their relationship develops within a matter of days which is just a little too quick to be entirely believable to me. There were some touching moment between them, but oftentimes I felt like their deeper emotions were being skimmed over and not given the weight they deserved. Their first love scene was good, but ended a bit too abruptly and without enough payoff, considering that it was Kat's first time. Also, and this is another personal preference, I wasn't overly fond of the way Sin and Kat (and other characters throughout the series) simply zap their clothes on and off at will when in the heat of passion. Initially, it was kind of cool, but Sherrilyn Kenyon has done it so much now that it's starting to loose its novelty. In my opinion, not having the characters take their time undressing each other, takes away valuable moments for foreplay and the building of sexual tension.
Probably the best thing about Devil May Cry was Acheron. We get to learn several more things about his past, probably in preparation for his story. The scenes where he imparts his wisdom to Kat and expresses his own regrets about the way that he treated Nick were among some of the best in the book. These scenes actually had some depth to them and proved to me that Sherrilyn Kenyon can write deeply moving material that isn't constantly filled with breezy one-liners. This gives me hope that Ash's book will be better than Devil May Cry and some of the other more recent offerings in the Dark-Hunter series.
I've come to the conclusion that you can't have a Dark-Hunter book without revisiting many previous characters. Other secondary characters who showed up include Artemis, although I have to say that I wasn't entirely pleased with the direction her character was taken in this book. She has always been a character that I love to hate for the way she has treated Ash, but here Ms. Kenyon couldn't seem to decide whether Artemis was going to be a selfish witch or sympathetic. The softer side of Artemis that was shown here in a few scenes is very difficult for me to reconcile with the vengeful goddess who beats Ash and uses him as a sex slave. The other characters who put in appearances are Apollymi; the Charonte demons, Simi and Xirena; the Dream-Hunter leaders, D'Alerian, M'Adoc, and M'Ordant; and Deimos, the Dolophoni. Wulf and Cassandra (Kiss of the Night) have a brief phone conversation with Kat, and Stryker (One Silent Night) puts in a cameo at the end. We are also introduced to Xypher, a rather intriguing Dream-Hunter, who becomes the hero of Dream Chaser.
Devil May Cry had enough issues to annoy me, but in spite of that, it was still mostly entertaining which is why I didn't rate it any lower. I simply had to work hard at trying to ignore the glaring holes and writing that wasn't quite up to par, and just enjoy the ride for what it was. It was still better then some books I've read, and I do plan to continue with the series for the time being. Even though it might be difficult to reign in my criticisms, I'm invested enough at this point that I can't turn back at least until I've reached Acheron. Just two more book to go.:-)
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook