Huntress by Malinda Lo

“All you can do is make your decisions based on what you know now.”

Huntress sounded promising, with its High Fantasy setting led by Asian characters, following a path of quest and adventure, completed with a lesbian romance. While those elements in themselves were brilliant, others such as plot and style became a distraction, overwhelming the former. Despite what became a somewhat disappointing read in some ways, in others it was enjoyable and interesting experience, one I’d recommend to readers looking for a sweet and innocent love and scattered scenes of action.

In the human world, nature is out of balance, meaning people’s lives are in crisis. Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls are picked to solve it, headed on a dangerous and unheard of journey to visit The Fairy Queen. The Kingdom only needs one huntress to save them, and what it takes could tear the two girls and their love for one another apart forever. A prequel to Ash.

“She had never known that ice could take on so many shades of blue: sharp lines of indigo like the deepest sea, aquamarine shadows, even the glint of blue-green where the sun struck just so.”

The biggest issue, above all, was the decision to write in third-person omniscient. Lo attempted it with determination and almost well execution towards the end of the novel, but it borders on head-hopping a good majority of the time. Transitions are clunky and sudden, erasing any form of smoothness from one character’s thoughts to another. It didn’t take on the “narrator” role of the style, all-knowing and dipping into backstory with clean breaks, instead straying into subjective when it probably should’ve been objective. And, at times, it became third-person limited, that inconsistency adding to the pressure of trying to understand everything going on.

It also adopted stilted and forced writing, especially in dialogue which, yes, could be explained away by the fact it’s in an otherworldly, fantasy setting, but sometimes it questioned the believability of characters. Because of that, getting involved with their individual stories – not only the main plot of journeying to another land, but the subplots of romance between Con and Shae, and the oaths Taisin swore to take as a Sage – became difficult.

“The world is inviolable: it has no beginning and no end. Those who seek to change it will be changed.”

Kaede and Taisin’s romance was much easier to get involved with, mainly because I’m a sucker when it comes to LGBT loves, but also because it was genuinely kind and well-written. In that regard, if anybody is interested more in seeing themselves represented in a healthy and good-natured way than the writing and plot, getting a copy of this title would be in your favour. During some points, it appeared like the certainty and effort put into the subplot wavered, supplying not much build-up to the official moments, but not to the same extent of the other pitfalls. Which, speaking of, was a common pattern throughout, dragged down with less interesting, info-dumping scenes, only to be brought to life with the excitement and then endearment when it came to fight or love scenes.

Huntress was a mixed bag, to say the least. Sometimes it was good, others times not so much. So, if anything, it was neutral.

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