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.
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Published: April 5th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I’ve always wanted to read more fantasy stories where heroines with prophetic abilities are the protagonists rather than the supporting characters, so I picked up Huntress. Taisin’s early vision of ice and risk intrigued me because she had to grapple with a fragmented sense of foreknowledge at the start of her journey.
Taisin and Kaede’s developing relationship causes them both to reflect on their assumptions, goals, loyalties and pursuits as they journey together towards another city. The internal character focus may make it a slower read but I liked how the characters came to an understanding. I haven’t read I Ching but will add it to the list of philosophical texts to look up as its influence can be felt throughout the book.
…making a decision isn’t about knowing every potential consequence. It’s about knowing what you want and chasing a path that takes you in that direction.
There is both Chinese and Celtic influences on the intricate world building too. In some ways, this is a more introspective book than Ash as the characters reflect upon how different responsibilities arise with different possibilities.
While Ash is still my favourite book by Malinda Lo so far, I appreciate how the romantic relationship between the two girls was developed more in this story. Even though Huntress didn’t burrow into my heart the way Ash did, this book reminded me to take a breath when making choices in turbulent times:
All you can do is make your decisions based on what you know now.