Dark Side of the Moon is the ninth novel in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. It's also the one I read first. Generally, I always read a series in order, but for some reason this one came into my hands before any of the others. While I probably would have gotten more of the asides and references if I had read the previous eight books, I was able to quickly understand the rules of the world and enjoy the storyline without that background knowledge.
Synopsis (from the book blurb):
Susan Michaels was once the hottest reporter on the Beltway Beat until a major scandal ruined her life and left her writing stories about alien babies and Elvis sightings. Life as she once knew it is over, or so she thinks, but then she gets a lead on a story that could salvage her extinct career. She heads to the local animal shelter, expecting a hot news tip, which she gets in the form of a major police cover up. . . for a ring of soul-sucking vampires out to take over Seattle. So much for saving her credibility.
And it that isn’t bad enough, she gets talked into adopting a cat and finds she’s allergic to it. A cat that turns out to be a shapeshifter who claims to be an immortal vampire slayer on the prowl for the same corrupt cops. Her first thought: seek professional help.
But as Susan’s drawn into Ravyn’s dark and dangerous world, she comes to realize that there’s a lot more at stake than just her defunct career. Now it’s no longer a question of bringing the truth to her readers; it’s a matter of saving their very lives and souls.
Ravyn’s life was shattered over four hundred years ago, when he mistakenly trusted the wrong human with the truth of his existence. He lost his family, his honor and his life. Now, in order to save the people of Seattle, he’s forced to confront that nightmare all over again, and to trust another woman with the secret that could destroy him.
In the world of the Dark-Hunters, life is always dangerous. But never more so than now, when a very human woman can shatter their entire world with just one story. The only question is...will she?
As said above, I was at a slight disadvantage when reading this book simply because I haven't yet read any of its predecessors. I do stress the word "slight," Kenyon does a fantastic job of ensuring that even first time readers are able to quickly orient themselves within the Dark-Hunter world. As such, however, I'm reviewing this book as the single title I read and not a portion of a larger series.
Dark Side of the Moon is a remarkably quick read despite its length. Susan is a smart, ultra-sarcastic heroine who all but leaps off the page. Maybe it's because I'm ultra-sarcastic myself, but I instantly adored her. She's tough and spunky, though not above succumbing to the occasional moment of weakness. From her go-getter attitude to her cat allergy, Susan was simply real to me. Ravyn is a tormented, angry, undead shapeshifting Dark-Hunter working off centuries of pent up hurt and anger. He shifts into the form of a panther (or cat), irritating Susan's allergies among other things. From outside appearances, the two couldn't be less suited for each other. At the same time, despite differences in age, lifestyle, and even species, the two are similar. It's at that similar level they bond. Well, that and sex. Good sex. Lots of good sex.
The story that unfolds between Susan and Ravyn is not unheard of (there are only so many storylines in existence), but it is engaging nonetheless. I found myself caring about Susan and Ravyn as I read and had a hard time putting the book down until I had finished it completely. I especially liked the interplay between Ravyn and his estranged family, and the introduction of other Dark-Hunters and Squires. It quickly immersed me in the world of the novel and the players of import. I'm now interested in back tracking to read those eight previous novels I missed, just to learn more about the Dark-Hunters and their story. Also of note, the subplots in this story were fantastic. The subplot between Archeron and Nick was tension filled and obviously foreshadows future storylines and problems to come. Likewise, the subplot with Dark-Hunter Cael and his Apollite wife Amaranda is completely engrossing. I so want to know what happens to them in future books. This is one series with which I definitely want to become more acquainted.
Now, I have read reviews (after finishing the story) where some long time fans of the Dark-Hunter series expressed their disappointment in Dark Side of the Moon. Maybe, if I had read the beginning of the series first, I would feel the same way. Without previous stories to compare this one too, however, I didn't find it lacking. There were references and quickly introduced characters I could tell would have meaning for readers of the entire series, but they weren't offsetting as a first time reader. I didn't find the story disjointed or fragmented. While some of the characters could have had more depth, it was not a crippling flaw, and with so much story packed into the pages, I can understand glossing over a few areas. I would definitely recommend this novel to other paranormal lovers.