“Huntress” by Malinda Lo
Publisher’s Synopsis: Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.
To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.
The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo’s highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.
3 out of 5 stars
Huntress is another YA novel, loosely written as a prequel to Ash in that it’s set in the same world and has a similar feel. This book is also a fairy tale and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Huntress stands on it’s own as a story – you don’t need to have read Ash beforehand.
It’s so nice to read young adult fantasy novels and more so LGBT novels. I really enjoyed the story told in Huntress but I had a few issues with the actual writing. The story is a questing fantasy. Kaede and Taisin are students at the Academy; a school to teach magic and the students to become sages. The Fairy Queen, who has not been heard from for hundreds of years sends an invitation to visit her city and Taisin and Kaede are chosen to go, along with the Prince of the realm.
The journey is filled with danger as they travel through the Woods (the same woods we encountered in Ash, filled with creatures that mean them harm). There are battles along the way and they lose several members of the questing party. The journey also allows for the time to build the love story between Kaede and Taisin. It’s done slowly and sweetly and what I would expect from a YA book.
What I do love about this book is that the fact that our two main characters are both women is of no consequence. It doesn’t matter in this world who you love and who loves you.
My issues with the book don’t stem from the story itself – I really like this sort of fantasy and thought this was an original take on a fantasy quest. I feel like there are things missing, or rather that could have been added to make this a more well rounded book.
We are told at the beginning that sages are celibate, and Taisin’s end goal is to become a sage regardless of her love for Kaede. Along the journey she struggles with this choice and meets a former sage that has refuted all that the sages stood for. It’s hinted at that Taisin was never told the complete truth at the Academy and that she should question the “why” behind some things she took at truths. We never find out more about this though, and I wish I could have learned more about Taisin’s final decision.
Also, I thought the book actually finished when there was still a chapter or two left. I felt tlike this additional quest was just an add-on and the book could have stood on it’s own without it.
Huntress was a quick and easy read and I liked it, I just felt it was a bit rushed in spots.