publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
release date: April 5th, 2011
hardcover, 384 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: from publisher for honest review
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.
Review: Stunning. Adventurous. Beautiful. Romantic. Lushly descriptive. Rich in culture and magic. High fantasy at it's very best. All of the above.
I could not wait to step back into the beautiful world that Malinda Lo built in her debut, Ash. In Huntress, we go back 200 years before the story of Aislynn and Kaisa, to see how the very first Huntress came about. Two students of the academy where sages are trained are called upon to make a perilous journey and meet with the Fairy Queen, hopefully to find out what she knows about the changes in the seasons that are destroying their lands. They are opposites, one is a devout student and a gifted seer who intends to become a sage. The other is a bit of wild child who will do anything to escape the fate her father has planned for her. Both of them were easily relatable, complicated characters. On this journey, they found bravery, adventure, strength, loss, friendship, and love.
The love story was perfect: tense and unsure, forbidden because all sages must take a vow of celibacy, they resist but dare to hope. They had this intense connection, each seemed to strengthen the other. As it played out, it was both heart-pounding and heart-breaking.
The language and flow and descriptions were just beautiful and completely effective in drawing up perfect visuals of what was happening in the story or the way something looked or sounded. One perfect example is this passage from the story:
The words were in another language---something brutal and dark, like a knuckle scraping against stone. She felt light-headed as her blood drained from her, making a slight hissing sounds when it struck the mixture in the clay pot. She couldn't look at the cut anymore, it was a mouth on her arm; it screamed at her.
One thing I did find slightly distracting was the quick changes in point of view. There were times when the POV would change so fast that I had to backtrack a few lines to be absolutely sure of who's head I was in, but it didn't take away from the story as a whole at all. I wouldn't have wanted it written any other way---all the different perspectives definitely added to the richness of the story.
This was another stunner from Malinda Lo---and I can only hope that she'll be writing these wonderful stories for a long time to come.
Visit Malinda Lo's site here.