Release Date: April 5, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Prequel to Ash
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
Kaede, the daughter of the King's Chancellor, wants to escape the political marriage her parents had planned for her. Taisin, with her remarkable magic, wants nothing more than to be marked a sage. When the King received an invitation from the Fairy Queen and Taisin's vision proclaimed Kaede an integral part of the group to journey to the Fairy Queen's city, Kaede saw her chance to escape the future her parents planned for her and go on an adventure like she had always wanted. Along with Taisin and Kaede, the King's son Prince Con and three guards set out to find the city which isn't on any map (the humans and the fay haven't had communication in hundreds of years). But danger lurk and some of the members succumb to death by unnatural forces and as the group dwindle in number, the girls were forced to rely on each other. Though hesitatingly at first, Kaede and Taisin fall in love but the issue with the girls was not their lesbian romance--in their world being a lesbian wasn't a cause for controversy or being shunned by society--but because a sage must be celibate. Just the same the romance between the girls was sweet and there was even a secondary romance between Con and the female guard, Shae.
Huntress is my first Malinda Lo book and I am very impressed by her writing and the way she crafted the story. I am a big fan of adventure/journey stories and the journey to the Fairy Queen's city Kaede, Taisin and their companions took was epic. The characters were great, especially Taisin, who I immediately sympathized and cared for. When I first began reading I was surprised that it's told in third person omniscient--I haven't come across a recent YA book written this way in a long time (if ever) and I thought the author utilized it well in Huntress because despite the shifts in perspective the story still flowed smoothly. The hardcover edition provides a beautifully drawn map to better track the character's journey and in the story the author provided just enough descriptions of the setting to form a picture of the different places the characters visited without overwhelming the reader. There's quite a bit of action scenes as well (my favorite being the wolf scene) and just when you think the journey was over, something else comes up and the characters were on the road again. The ending was inevitably bittersweet but satisfying.
I've read books that has LGBT characters before but this was my first book with LGBT main characters and I liked that the romance between Kaede and Taisin was straight-forward and matter-of-fact. I'm glad I branched out and read out of my comfort zone. Huntress was a captivating adventure story and I urge you to give it a try. 5 out of 5 stars