Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone (Prequel to Ash)
Source: ARC through Book It Forward ARC Tours
Rating: 5/5 star
I loved Malinda Lo’s first book Ash and was excited to about Huntress. I got this book through Book it Forward ARC tours. It was a wonderful book. The story was more complicated and expansive than Ash. It again features a romance between two women, there is also a lot of adventuring and some magic.
Kaede and Taisin are two girls in their late teens. Kaede is the daughter of a the King’s Advisor and more knowledgeable in fighting and handcrafts than the magic at that the academy she attends. Taisin is a prodigy at the academy and has a vision involving her and Kaede and a castle of ice. The land the two girls live in has fallen on hard times and the situation is dire if winter is not brought to an end. The two girls end up being sent along with the King’s son on a journey to visit the Fairy Queen in hopes that the Fairy Queen will be able to help them end the long winter that is gripping the land.
This book is written much in the style of Ash; so if you liked that book I think you will enjoy this one. Lo writes at a deliberate pace with beautiful descriptions that create lush images in your mind. The romance in the book is keep somewhat innocent and sweet, as it was in Ash. The two characters that fall in love are both women, but it isn’t the same sex issue that makes their love star-crossed, it is more an issue of class and occupation. Lo gives us a wonderfully sweet and adventurous story that features these two women, each strong in their own way, and doesn’t really make a big deal about their sexuality…which is how it should be.
There is a lot more action in this book than there was in Ash and a lot more adventure. Rather than being blunt about magic this book has more a tone of magical realism about it. This book is supposed to be the prequel to Ash; but, although the world is the same, the customs of the characters are distinctly Asian and the cultures have a very different feel to them. You definitely don’t need to read Ash to enjoy this book.
Both Kaede and Taisin are admirable characters, they are strong and yet have a lot of moments where they doubt themselves. I enjoyed reading about them and found them likable. I love Lo’s writing and while the pacing is slow at some points, especially when the characters journey through the Woods, I think that the pace is appropriate in that it helps the reader get a sense of their grueling journey.
The book ends well, although I think some readers will be a bit bothered by it. I personally enjoyed the ending, is wasn’t fairy tale happy but it was realistic and kept with the tone of the rest of the story.
Overall a wonderful new book from Lo. I will continue to read Lo’s works. Lo gives us deliberately paced novel, with beautiful description, heart-pounding adventure, and a sweet romance. If you loved Ash you will love this book. Fans of classic fantasy adventure with a thread of romance through it will find lots to love in this book.