Note: This review is safe for all audiences and is Completely Spoiler Free, as I have been informed that Huntress is not yet in bookstores outside the U.S., and many of you are from the UK, Australia, and Russia. Lezzie love to all of you!
I’ll admit it: I have a crush on Malinda Lo. She was one of my favorite writers for AfterEllen (you can read her articles here), and then she went and wrote and published Ash, a lesbian twist on the classic Cinderella tale.
And now she’s back with Huntress, which I read in one glorious responsibility-free weekend, and it was scrumptious in a way only YA can be. (It goes very well with warm Spring afternoons and a cold glass of Pinot Grigio. Okay, a cold bottle of Pinot Grigio.) It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly worth your time, and it belongs in every school library in the world.
First though, let’s talk about the problems. I edit a great deal of Young Adult fantasy fiction (I have absolutely no idea how I fell into this particular niche market, but life is strange and wonderful), so I already spend a decent amount of time immersed in this market.
Huntress suffers from a nagging issue plaguing the YA world: Book Number One Syndrome. I could be wrong (and Malinda, please feel free to correct me and make my life by letting me know you actually read my blog), but I got the distinct impression that one of two things happened here.
- This book is the first book in a pre-plotted series, so Ms. Lo held back on some of the action for the purposes of setting up the next book. Or
- The book was originally much longer, but was cut into two books, the second of which we’ll see as a sequel sometime next year.
After a rip-roaring start, the book stalls in the middle, and the end is a bit of a muddle, with a brand new plot line popping up in the last few pages.
All that said, it’s a good read, and you should do your duty and buy it for all the baby dykes in your life today. If you’ve been reading Literally Lesbian since the (problematic) beginning, you know my feelings on the ridiculous number of coming out plotlines in Lesbian Literature. Malinda has created a world in which coming out isn’t even an issue for her coming-of-age characters, and that’s something to celebrate.
In the world of Huntress (and Ash), kissing/liking/falling in love with girls is no big thing and is treated like any other kiss/crush/love. And considering this book was published by Little Brown, a major YA publisher, that is a very, very big deal. It’s a world we all wish we grew up in, and that we hope for the future – when a seventeen-year-old girl doesn’t bat an eye when she falls in love with another girl, because really, why not? There are fairies to fight!
Description from Malinda Lo's website:
"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 Taninli, 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."