The only thing I don’t like about books is that they’re always over too soon. Sometimes I just want to live in a world, breathing in the setting and staying with a couple long after the final page. This is why I was so excited to discover Sherrilyn Kenyon and her Dark-Hunter series.
While some authors will write a few books in a series before moving on to a new project, Kenyon has turned her Dark-Hunter Universe into an epic, ongoing saga. The Dark-Hunter series alone is over 20 books and counting, but there are also multiple connected series, prequels, novellas and short stories that all contribute to the massive universe. Kenyon started this world back in the ’80s (as short stories in magazines), and since then has written over 60 books. It’s no wonder that her fans are completely devoted to her, calling themselves “menyons” and turning her into an international bestseller. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s dedication to her world and her readers is why she is most definitely my author crush for April.
It’s tough to even categorize Sherrilyn Kenyon’s work. Paranormal, romance, fantasy, young adult, horror — she’s written it all. Dark-Hunter is about vampire-like, immortal warriors trying to gain vengeance against those who brutally killed them. After death, they strike a deal with the goddess Artemis, agreeing to hunt daimans (creatures who kill humans for their souls) in exchange for a chance at revenge and immortal life. Every book is dark and romantic, featuring a new couple caught up in this ongoing, epic fight. Then there’s also the Dream-Hunters series, featuring dream warriors who feed on the emotions of sleeping humans. And the Were-Hunters as well, time-traveling shape-shifters who can take animal form (or animals taking human form). Don’t forget The Chronicles of Nick either, a young adult series that’s a sort-of prequel to Dark-Hunter, featuring Nick Ambrosius Gautier, a teen who later becomes a key figure in the adult books. Plus, there’s also a manga series based on the books, coloring books, a few movie/TV deals in place, and way more spin-off series than I’ve even mentioned here.
Whew! Even as a longtime fan, it’s sometimes hard for me to keep track of how all the series interconnect, especially as Kenyon also writes under a pseudonym at times, called Kinley MacGregor. I’m often turning to Wikipedia and Kenyon’s website to get the proper reading order. Plus, Dark-Hunter isn’t all Kenyon writes, either. She’s an insanely prolific author, with several new books coming out every year. Her latest one, out May 9, is Deadmen Walking, part of the Deadman’s Cross Trilogy. It’s a historical fantasy series that combines THREE of Kenyon’s other worlds: the Dark-Hunter Universe, Hellchasers, and Sea Wolves.
So if you love intricately drawn worlds, love stories that make you swoon, and epic, long-running series, then it’s time to start reading Sherrilyn Kenyon. You won’t regret it, trust me. She’s written so many novels that it’s tough to choose just five favorites.
But, here are the Sherrilyn Kenyon books that have stuck with me long after I finished reading them:
Illusion: Chronicles of Nick (St. Martin’s Griffin, April 1, 2014)
I’m a huge fan of all Kenyon’s series, but as a long-time young adult reader, the Chronicles of Nick instantly grabbed my attention. And for good reason: it’s a complex, fun series that plays with time and our perceptions of the later Dark-Hunter books. And while I love all the Nick stories, there’s just something I adore about Illusion, the fifth book in the series. At this point, teenage Nick is sick of being the son of a villain and he’s only longing for some normalcy. When he gets it, by waking up in an alternate universe where he can’t use his powers, he finds that “normal” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Nick is his usual sarcastic self, getting into scrape after scrape and struggling to embrace (or maybe change) his destiny. There’s a delicious surprise in this book too, and it left me clamoring for the next one in the series.
Styxx: Dark-Hunter (St. Martin’s Press, September 3, 2013)
Out of all the Dark-Hunter books, this was probably the one I was most anticipating — and it definitely didn’t let me down! I’d been wishing for the story of Styxx (twin brother to the very awesome Acheron) for ages. Styxx usually comes off as the spoiled, troubled twin, but this book is definitely his redemption story. We learn more about the dark truth of his childhood, the pain he’s kept hidden for so long, and the feud that separated him and his brother for 11,000 years. It’s often a tough book to read, and by the time Styxx finally finds happiness with Bethany, the Atlantis goddess of Wrath and Misery, I was jumping for joy. All I want is for Styxx to be happy! But this is a Kenyon book, after all, and no path to happiness is truly easy. Still, this is one story that you will not want to miss.
Cloak & Silence: The League (August 9, 2013)
The League series is about a future universe called Ichidian, where The League Assassins both protect – and potentially terrorize – citizens on behalf of the government. Fun fact: this is actually the first series Kenyon ever started writing. You should definitely read the first few books, but Cloak & Silence, Book 7, will forever be my favorite. It’s rare to read a novel in a romance series that focuses on two male characters falling in love, so in that way Cloak & Silence feels like a breath of fresh air. Maris Sulle is a fierce warrior who has often felt isolated and alone. It doesn’t help that his love for his best friend, Darling Cruel, is destined to go unrequited. But all of that changes when he meets Ture, a man who is just as scarred and untrusting as he is. Together, the two build up the sweetest relationship, one built on learning how to trust and love again.
The Dream-Hunter: Dream-Hunter (St. Martin’s Paperbacks, February 6, 2007)
I love so many of the Dream-Hunter books, but the first one is still the best. I love stories where the main characters are already connected before they meet, so I was definitely drawn to Dream-Hunter Arik and Dr. Megeara “Geary” Kafieri. Cursed to live without emotions, Arik can only experience real feelings through other people’s dreams. When he enters Geary’s very steamy subconscious, he finally feels like he’s whole again. He’s forbidden to spend too much time in any one person’s head, but he just can’t let Geary go. After making a deal with Hades, he has two weeks to spend as a human in order to seduce Geary in real life. Geary is fulfilling her father’s dying wish to prove that Atlantis is real, so things get a little weird when the hot guy from her dreams shows up to help her. Things get even weirder when it becomes clear that Arik offered up her soul to Hades in exchange for his two weeks as a human. But the two are clearly connected from the first moment, and their chemistry sizzles on the page.
Fantasy Lover (St. Martin’s Paperbacks, February 18, 2002)
This was the very first Kenyon book I read and it’s still one that I turn to again and again. As the son of Aphrodite, Julian of Macedon is so handsome and irresistible that he ends up cursed into the pages of a book, only released with a spell so that he can pleasure the woman who freed him for one month before going back to his prison. It’s a fate the half-god has become resigned to until he meets Grace Alexander, a sex therapist who summons him (despite not truly believing that the spell will work). But instead of using his body as so many others do, Grace decides to heal Julian, showing him friendship, compassion and love. As the two grow closer, they’re faced with the task of trying to free Julian from a 2,000-year-old curse that doesn’t want to let go easily.