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Tuesday, March 23, 2010:
Dance With the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon ( ) - quickie review
Zarek's Point of View:

Dark-Hunter: A soulless guardian who stands between mankind and those who would see mankind destroyed. Yeah, right. The only part of that Code of Honor I got was eternity and solitude.

Insanity: A condition many say I suffer from after being alone for so long. But I don't suffer from my insanity-I enjoy every minute of it.

Trust: I can't trust anyone...not even myself. The only thing I trust in is my ability to do the wrong thing in any situation and to hurt anyone who gets in my way.

Truth: I endured a lifetime as a Roman slave, and 900 years as an exiled Dark-Hunter. Now I'm tired of enduring. I want the truth about what happened the night I was exiled-I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Astrid (Greek, meaning star): An exceptional woman who can see straight to the truth. Brave and strong, she is a point of light in the darkness. She touches me and I tremble. She smiles and my cold heart shatters.

Zarek: They say even the most damned man can be forgiven. I never believed that until the night Astrid opened her door to me and made this feral beast want to be human again. Made me want to love and be loved. But how can an ex-slave whose soul is owned by a Greek goddess ever dream of touching, let alone holding, a fiery star?

Okay, I don't care what anyone (Holly) says, this is a wonderful story, and most likely my favorite Dark Hunter book (I've only read about 6 of them). I stand by my original feelings for this story and as I read it, I was not disappointed. Some of the Dark Hunter books may be cheesy and dated, but this one stands the test of time...except perhaps those annoying references to Nazareth's Hair of the Dog...but I digress.

Zarek has once again been banished to Alaska, only now Artemis has called for his execution. However Acheron has managed to convince Artie to let Zarek be judged before automatically condemning and subjecting him to Shadedom. The judge chosen is Astrid, immortal sister of the Three Fates, and she's never once found anyone innocent. Artemis is satisfied in the eventual outcome. However despite her word, Zarek is still being hunted...

Zarek has never needed anyone and he won't start now. Born illegitimate after his cruel father impregnated a slave, he was literally a whipping boy for his own family. The other slaves hated him because of who is father is and hated by his family for being a bastard, Zarek has no one. He's subjected to constant beatings and has no friends, no allies. The transgressions of his brothers are often the cause for his beatings, though trying to defend others has often lead to being whipped. In fact, as a human, Zarek is killed due to the lies and machinations of a selfish, conniving woman who became his owner after his own father sold him. He has never known kindness, or goodness, and certainly never expects to find anyone willing to stick up for him. He thinks Acheron is a fool for wanting to prolong his agony.

Astrid is known to be a fair judge, though none of the Dark Hunters she's judged has ever survived. But encountering Zarek and taking him into her home changes things. Despite his rudeness and harsh personality, she begins to notice discrepancies in his behavior. If he's such a cold-blooded killer, how can he be so careful with her? Everytime she turns around she begins to discover truths about Zarek that don't add up. It isn't until she invades his dreams and sees what he's endured over the many centuries he's been a Dark Hunter that she begins to understand why he is like he is. In truth, Zarek can be quite the jackass. But is that reason enough to sentence him to the torment of eternal Shadedom? Astrid is not so sure...

My thoughts:

This must have been the 3rd or 4th time I've re-read Zarek's story, and each time it's made me cry. Even knowing what to expect, I still can't help myself. It truly breaks my heart at the cruelty he's had to put up with for over 900 years. (Note: this story beats Zsadist's story, hands down. Don't get me wrong, I love Zsadist, but Zarek is the original tortured hero here).

Even as a Dark Hunter, Zarek is forced to live in a harsh place where it's beyond freezing in winter, and has up to 22 hours of sunlight in summer. He has no friends, and even Acheron rarely visits. But Zarek is a stubborn oaf, and lives to piss people off. Can't say as I blame him. I don't see him as someone who mopes around feeling sorry for himself - he's managed to create some type of a life for himself, despite the greed and suspicion of the humans who live nearby. Zarek has never taken credit for any of the few good things he's done, and doesn't expect to be thanked for them. He's little more than an animal, yet deep inside there is a spark of humanity in him, and Astrid is determined to nurture it and help it thrive before ever judging him guilty. She alone wants to give him a fighting chance.

Astrid is frustrated by Zarek, and by his refusal to let her see what lies beneath his arrogant, ballsy persona. She finds a way to invade his dreams - more like his nightmares - and discover what has lead to Zarek being the way he is, and why he could possibly be guilty for the charges against him. What she finds is a scared little boy, an extremely lonely man,someone who refuses to ask for help because for one thing, he doesn't know how. She also discovers that he can be so gentle and tender, and that he cannot fathom how someone as precious and beautiful as Astrid could want to come anywhere near him. It just has to be one of life's cruel little jokes...

Truth be told, I could talk about Zarek for hours. This is not really a review, but I could talk about so many things, when all it comes down to is that this is a story that will break your heart, yet also make you smile when Zarek finally, FINALLY!, gets a break. I laugh at his ability to piss people off, and am amazed at how he just won't quit, no matter how much agony he suffers. Maybe he really is crazy, but damn, can you blame him? I was so glad that Astrid saw past all that and recognized his true worth, that she was able to fall in love with him and offer him a chance at eternal happiness. That she didn't try to change him but loved him because of all his facets. Their's is a remarkable love story, and ranks up there as one of my favorite stories. Any book that can still make me cry after so many years of reading has just got to be special.

Rating: ***** out of *****

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  1. Nice review Stacy. Dance With The Devil is still my favorite Dark Hunter book and Zarek my favorite of Sherri's heroes. Love this book.

  2. very good review, Stacy! I love this book and I agree with everything you said.

  3. Oh Zarek..I loved his book. Fun to read about him again..thanks for the review!!

  4. Zarek is my favorite too. I cry every time I read his book.

  5. Hi Stacy,

    Love the review and Zarek's also my favorite DH! I love the book and I also totally agree with everything you said!

  6. Zarek is my favorite DH character even more than Acheron!

    Have you read Night Play? It is my second favorite DH book.

  7. Stacy, welcome to the world of Zarek - one of my all time favorite characters. Great review - makes me want to read the book all over again.

  8. Zarek is still my fave of the Dark Hunters too. Even Holly sees some of his appeal now. ;)

  9. I really liked Zarek's story, too. To be honest I thought I'd hate it for reason, but it was just excellent. And I love Simi in this one. :)

  10. This is my favorite DH book! I should re-read again... it makes me cry too.

    Even my husband knows Zarek. I've always talked to him about my favorite heroes and sometimes I check if he's been listening ;) Me: "Which characters I've liked the most?" Husband: "That guy with a weird name... Zarek!" Usually he can list a few more names :)

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