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This book confused me right from the get go, the main character is Zarek who we met in the previous book while he was visiting New Orleans. Now however, he's back in his home town of Fairbanks in Alaska where he can't leave his home during summer and is completely ostracised from the town community.
The book starts off with Zarek returning home via helicopter and waiting for the squire to kill him like he was paid to do. Unlike the previous book this one picks up right where the the last book finished. Once the prologue sets the scene that Zarek will die I was a bit confused as to how this could turn into a novel given how psychotic he is. The first chapter then goes to Acheron who is on Mount Olympus arguing with Artemis. And they are arguing over someone called "Thanatos". Because of this argument Artemis agrees to have Zarek "judged" by a Judge of her choice. And oddly enough Acheron doesn't argue with Artemis over her choice which makes her suspicious.
Meanwhile Zarek has arrived home and when he visits town to get a new generator he finds his "friend" in town acting oddly compared to usual. Which he soon finds out is because Thanatos is there to try and kill Zarek. Cue chase beginning where Zarek runs from Thanatos, and comes across a group of trigger happy Squires who are also out to kill him. Two Dark Hunters also turn up to try and kill Zarek making it a happy "let's kill Zarek!" party. Luckily another Dark Hunter rocks up and attacks the group out to kill Zarek. Thanks to the shotgun this Dark Hunter used and the Texan drawl Zarek realises that his saviour is his one and only friend Sundown. Because Sunshine is so "young" in Dark Hunter years he doesn't have the same prejudice against Zarek that everyone else seems to have.
As Zarek is running from his killing party he ends up passing out from his injuries right outside of a cabin. Luckily the owner of the cabin comes out and brings him inside to look after him. We find out that this woman is Astrid and that she's trying to save his life, in more ways than one. Fast forward through all the arguing Zarek and Astrid go through while he's stuck there during a blizzard. From the first chapter we know that Astrid is there to judge Zarek and decide if he will die or not. And Zarek is really making this decision hard for her since she feels that he is innocent but the way he's behaving makes it really hard to prove that he is.
Fast forward to where Thanatos finds Zarek and relentlessly tries to kill him, even though Artemis has told him to stand down. Because of this Acheron needs to send Simi in to protect them since she can kill Thanatos. However Acheron has given her strict instructions NOT to talk to Zarek, for some odd reason. And Simi being Simi follows his instructions to the LETTER. Like I mean, manipulate his words to make people happy without actually disobeying him. I am quite like this myself, but not to the same degree as Simi so I find it quite amusing how naive, innocent and literal Simi is. Just trust me that if you read these books you'll love Simi, there is just no way you can't!
Because Simi is so particular about obeying Acheron she happily chats to Astrid however she wont "talk" to Zarek. While doing this hidden in an underground tunnel we find out that there's more to Zarek's past than we've known up until this point. We learn from Simi showing the past to Zarek that a Thanatos killed and destroyed the village he was meant to guard. Because of this Zarek tracked him for days on end to kill Thanatos for destroying his village. He finally tracks him down to a community of Appolites and comes face to face with Thanatos. From this being shown to him he realises the current Thanatos is standing next to the one he chased down, which leaves him very confused. How can he still be alive? Is this why the current Thanatos is so hell bent on killing Zarek?
And then, in the past that Simi is showing Zarek Acheron arrives and kills the previous Thanatos. However not before he shoved the current Thanatos's wife onto Zareks sword resulting in her dying. Because Acheron adjusted the memories off everyone that was there Zarek believed he was the one that killed his village. Whereas the current Thanatos's memory shows that Zarek brutally and purposely murdered his wife. And because Thanatos is such a secret from all Dark Hunters that is why everyone thinks Zarek is psychotic. They think he murdered his own village that he was responsible for. Because Artemis hates Zarek for finding and trying to put an end to Thanatos when she couldn't. So she wanted to kill Zarek whereas Acheron didn't want him killed for something he wasn't responsible for and as such had Zarek moved to Alaska before there was even a single person living there. Not as a punishment, but to save his life.
I hate that Artemis is so selfish and proud that she can't see the damage she is doing to others, but I also appreciate the fact that she is a Goddess and that it can be hard to admit when she isn't all knowing and all powerful. However her actions put an innocent man through centuries of torture for something he never did. She turned every Dark Hunter against him for nothing. She also treated him like a worthless slave when he died, and because of this he never had the same constraints as the other Dark Hunters which could have made his time in Alaska more bearable. But he didn't know about this and so lived like a Dark Hunter making his life miserable. And I gota say, I'm amazed he kept his humanity given what happened to him during his human life, how Artemis treated him and as a result how EVERYONE else treated him. He held onto his sanity and managed to survive. And because of this he managed to snag himself a wife out of Astrid who knows his past, his TRUE past and loves him anyway. She brings him out of his shell and helps him learn to socialise with others.
As much as I love the changes in Zarek thanks to Astrid, I'm also not sure that love should force someone to change. I know it's inevitable for some changes to happen, but to forcibly change someone to suit you better is not love to me. But then again, they both seem happy so what can I say about it? That they are happy together is what we all want in a relationship I think, so at least we can rest assured that they love each other and will have a good life together.
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