Hi all, welcome back to this weeks review. I've been looking forward to writing this one up since this is my favourite book in the whole series. Like, wholly and completely, this is my favourite book that I could come back to at any time and read as a stand alone book. And I think that's because I relate to Styxx more than I have any other character in the series. I am going to apologise ahead of time for a long post. This book just packs so much into it that you can't help but write a longer review to ensure you get the gist of it.
We start off with Archon killing as many baby boys as possible who may be his son and Apollymi taunting him because yet again he's failed on his quest. And this is going way back to 9548 BC, back before even Acheron was born! We then experience a number or events from Styxx and Acheron's childhood from Styxx's point of view. Previously we've seen Acheron's point of view and Styxx was always painted as a selfish brat.
However, now we see it from Styxx's point of view where he is trying to connect to his family and the only one who seems to like him is his twin. Acheron. His sister Ryssa hates him because she thinks he gets everything from their parents, and Acheron get's nothing. However his mum screams and throws things at him if he goes near her and his father is always cold. Because his father doesn't believe Acheron is his son, he's doubtful about Styxx's paternity as well. So although he's grooming Styxx to take over as king he doesn't truly trust that he deserves to be king. Especially when he's constantly distracted or sick, while he conveniently forgets that this happens because Acheron isn't being treated fairly.
This is the first thing that made me feel like I connected with Styxx. Growing up my own family treated me differently just because they perceived that I had a better life than they did. In some ways I did have a better childhood, but in other's they had it way better and they never bothered to ask me or talk to me to find out if we had anything in common. Which just drove us further and further apart, and over time that bred resentment which is what we see between Styxx and his siblings as they grow older.
After Acheron had been taken away and had his tongue pierced Styxx dropped in pain because his life force was linked to Acheron's. Rather than remember that this had happened however, his father treated him as if he was insane and had him committed to the priests of Dionysus. He was left to their "kind" treatment for some time, during which he was beaten by the priests of Dionysus by day and gang raped by Dionysus and Apollo by night. And all because he was a prince that they all hated. However for Styxx this was just the start of Apollo's obsession with him that would slowly but surely ruin his life.
Over the years Styxx gained the respect of his training master while he lost the respect and even "cordial" treatment from his family. The treatment he got from his uncle was what really opened his eyes. So he sneaked off to Atlantis to find Acheron and free him from what he suspected his brother was being forced to do. Unfortunately Acheron had been so brain washed and broken by their uncle that he refused to go which resulted in Styxx being caught. Which made things even worse for both of them. I really felt for Styxx at this time. Having already read Acheron's book I knew that Acheron never remembered this later. A lot of Acheron's hatred of Styxx came from the fact that he thought Styxx had everything he was meant to have. Without realising that his cage was just as tortuous as his own, even if it was gilded in gold rather than cold iron and drugs. Given the powers Acheron has as a god I don't understand how he can't be aware of this or what Styxx had had to put up with during his human lifetime.
Eventually Styxx grew so tired off all the abuse that he thew himself off a cliff. Does that really sound like the actions of someone who is selfish, spoiled and gets the best of everything handed to them on a silver platter? To me it doesn't. While slowly dragging himself home he comes across Bethany in her human form (blind and fishing) and pretended to be just a common child of 16 years old. They quickly build a friendship and whenever they can they sneak off to meet each other by the stream to chill out and escape from the craziness of their lives. Some time later Styxx is sent to war, but he managed to slip out to see Bethany one last time before leaving at which point she gave him a necklace to "remind him of her" but in reality was bewitched to protect him from all damage.
It was a super sweet notion but quite funny when Bethany kept trying to kill the "arrogant prince" while searching for her Hector and finding that none of her weapons could touch him. He always seems to turn at the last second, or something would get in the way etc. Possibly the necklace played a part of his success and managed to overthrow and take control of many Atlantean controlled towns. But the one thing he made sure of was that not one of the women they came across were harmed or raped. They provided medical aid to all those injured regardless of their nationality. At some point along the way Bethany realised this prince was her Hector and she ended up pretty conflicted. I can understand where she's coming from. The guy she trusted her heart to lied to her about who he was. But on the other hand, a prince who wouldn't abuse his power to make her love him or at least let him use her body, who cared for Atlantean's alongside his own people definitely wasn't what she was expecting of this "arrogant prince child". So does she trust her heart, or those around her?
The next thing to happen sucks badly. Styxx was then kidnapped by Apollo and hand gifted to the Atlantean god's all because he wouldn't submit to Apollo like he wanted. Instead he was then physically abused and raped over and over for something like a year. During the course of that yr he was replaced by another god to make sure he wasn't missed. While he was replaced the god turned everyone against him and went along with his father setting him up with an Egyptian bride. Luckily Bethany found him and released him in time to discover that he'd become engaged and ended it before it could be fulfilled.
Luckily Styxx and Bethany find some happiness and decide to get married to welcome their baby into the world. Except while Bethany is with her mother to turn herself into a human for Styxx Apollymi come's calling because Acheron was killed and turns all the gods to stone. Meanwhile Styxx is sent to Hades realm away from Bethany and all he can think about is making sure she's ok and thankful that she was visiting family rather than with him. At this point we only know a few bits and pieces about what Styxx gets up to in the future so it feels like this will be the first book in the series where there isn't a happily ever after for our main characters.
The next few things we hear about Styxx is him trying to find ways to die. Like actually die. Properly die to end his never ending suffering. He's already experienced starvation among many other torments and he just wants it all to end. After his first attempt to die in the modern world fails, Acheron plonks him on his own island in the Atlantean god's realm where he doesn't need to see him anymore. Some time later Urian comes across Styxx and like a fangirl meeting her fav movie/ pop star is immediately overwhelmed by meeting him and just wants to do whatever he can to help him out. Then the next person to come across him is Acheron's wife. Which doesn't bode well for Styxx. Whenever anyone who likes Acheron came across him in the past it meant pain and torment for him. But will she prove herself to be different? Too bad Simi wasn't anywhere near as accepting when she came across Styxx. I guess having all the others accept Styxx meant someone had to hate him given his previous track record.
When Acheron finds out that Styxx is out again he goes into a rage. Since he's so patient with everyone else it's kinda surprising that he is so heartless and hostile to his brother for no reason. But on the other hand I kind of get it since I'm kind of like that as well. Those closest to you inevitably push your buttons more and because they just keep pushing and pushing you can't help but snap and lose it sometimes. I'm not saying it's the best behaviour. It's definitely something those around Acheron are trying to help him get over. But it happens more often than not anyway.
In Acheron's way he then sets Styxx up in an apartment in the real world. But doesn't help him adjust to the change in the world. Lucky for him Urian visits and he is kept sane. Until the day Acheron needs him. At which point in time it feels like Acheron is trying to guilt trip him into helping him when Acheron has done nothing but abuse Styxx in every way possible for pretty much the entire history of the world. Anyway, Styxx does it in the hopes that it will help mend the problems in their relationship. Too bad it doesn't. So he escapes to Egypt where Urian is the only person to bother checking up on him.
Eventually Styxx finds out about his previous lives and the role he has to play to save Bethany. And lucky for him it's possible to save her and get the love of his life back. So even though he's had to live through unimaginable pain, suffering, abuse, torture and betrayal maybe he will find peace. And even a family of his own. Luckily for him Acheron grows up just in time to help him get all this back. Personally I can't say I really trust Acheron yet. Coz it just feels like he's being nice in the end because he's been woken up to what a dick he was to his twin brother who had done nothing but try and help him all their human lives while trying to find his own little slice of happiness. But then again I'm not the most trusting of people. Hopefully it works out for them!
Of any book in this series this is the one I believe you should definitely read! Although to get the best impact from it you should probably read Acheron's book first. Then it'll make more sense. And there is SOOOOO much I haven't touched on in this review because Sherrilyn has just absolutely jam packed this book full of things! So go and read it! Writing this review is making me want to re-read it as well. I feel like there's a few spots where my memory is failing me which is a shame coz I really do love this one!
Until next time! See you next week and if you haven't already read this one. Go and read it!