Huntress by Malinda Lo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Huntress is to Ash as Fire is to Graceling - set in the same world, but in a different time and with a different cast of characters. While Ash is clearly a Cinderella story, this new book is more of a quest story (with strong hints of Narnia).
Something (or someone) has created an imbalance in the earth's energies, with extended winters and bad summer harvests. The King has been invited by the Fairy Queen to the city of Tanlili, but sends his son Con along with two Academy students, Kaede and Taisin, and three guards instead. Many dangers later, they reach the city only to be told that they have yet another quest: to an ice island to slay Elowen, the half-fay half-human who is killing both lands.
Does it work? Yes, for the most part. Our sense of the Academy is fuzzy, but the trek to the Xi is much clearer, with the fear and difficulties more clearly defined. Kaede's emotional journey is also described well (more so than any other characters), and one really gets a sense of who this person is. The others have moments of that clarity for the reader, and it's obvious that Taisin is supposed to be equally well-defined but I didn't feel that. The romance between Taisin and Kaede was a bit of a diversion and didn't need to be as spelled out as it was (unless the author is setting up a sequel in which that will play a major role).
ARC provided by publisher.
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