Book Review: The Guardian
Title: The Guardian: A Dream-Hunter Novel
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
After thousands of years of being tortured in hell, demigod Seth has one chance to escape his misery. His master, the primal god Noir, has captured Solin, god of dreams, who has information about a key that can grant great power or cause great destruction. Seth is put in charge of interrogating the Solin. Little does he know that Solin’s daughter, Lydia, has come to free him. Lydia is an immortal were-jackal with the power to walk into another person’s dreams. But she is no match for Seth, who quickly captures Lydia and offers Solin a trade--the missing key for Lydia’s life. Solin agrees, and Seth keeps Lydia as collateral. But when Seth gets to know Lydia, he finds himself drawn to her. And though Lydia would like nothing more than to hate the man who tortured her father, the more she learns the horrors of Seth’s past, the harder it is to keep her own creeping feelings at bay.
A friend recommended Sherrilyn Kenyon to me a while ago, but I hadn't really gotten around to checking her out. So when I spotted one of her books at the La Habra Library bookstore for the low, low cost of ten cents, I quickly jumped on the chance. I was not disappointed. I finished the book the same day I bought it. The Guardian was that addicting.
The Guardian is a romance book first, a fantasy book second. It has a kind of Beauty and the Beast vibe going, which I really like. If it were a film, it would be a hard R for cursing, sex, and, most prevalent, scenes of violent torture. (More on that later.)
When I read romance, first and foremost, I have to like the characters and invest in them. I was invested almost from the start, although it helps that I have a thing for angsty bad boys. At the start of the book, Seth comes across as scary and cynical, but peel back the layers, and you’ll find a genuinely gentle and, in some ways, innocent soul. As for Lydia, she’ll fight and curse with the best of them, but she’s compassionate and empathetic, and she will protect those she loves without hesitation.
I liked Seth and Lydia’s relationship, which was pretty healthy given the circumstances. There wasn’t that fake drama crap, where the guy or girl comes up with a needless lie or some weird miscommunication causes melodramatic outbursts. The tension was strong enough without that kind of stupidity. The few times Seth and Lydia do misunderstand each other, they quickly figure out the problem and correct it. The relationship felt mature, and that made it easy for me to root for them.
I had some quibbles with the setting. The Guardian partially takes place in realms of the gods and partially takes place in our modern world. The two don’t blend together seamlessly. As this is my first time reading the Night-Hunter novels, I didn’t always grasp the dense mythology. For example, the explanation about why the “key” was so devastating and why Noir wanted it went right over my head. For the most part, though, I understood enough of the world to follow the main plot, which was pretty straight-forward.
The biggest issue I had with the book, by far, was the torture. Gruesome, prolonged scenes of torture, which I don’t really appreciate in my romance book. Most of the torture is directed at Seth, and it is bad: mutilation, rape, psychological abuse, you name it. The prologue gives a good idea of what’s to come. If reading it makes you squeamish, you aren’t going to like the rest of the book. I could withstand the descriptions, but it got to the point where I wondered how Seth had any scrap of sanity left, let alone turned out to be a pretty good person.
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s prose was sassy, descriptive, and easy to read. The novel went down smooth. On the whole, The Guardian knew what it wanted to be, and it delivered. I wanted an entertaining, sexy romance with characters and relationships I could root for. I got that. I had been really stressed out, but reading this novel relaxed me and helped me feel better. I’ll probably read more of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s novels. I may even pay full price.
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