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Ash #.5


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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.

371 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Malinda Lo

47 books3,994 followers
Hi Goodreads! I've only created this profile to claim my name here, and I don't check messages here or add friends. I invite you to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or visit my website at malindalo.com.

BIO: Malinda Lo is the bestselling author of Last Night at the Telegraph Club, winner of the National Book Award, the Stonewall Book Award, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, as well as Michael L. Printz and Walter Dean Myers honors. Her debut novel Ash, a Sapphic retelling of Cinderella, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Lambda Literary Award. She can be found on social media @malindalo or at malindalo.com.

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5 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,217 reviews
Profile Image for Asenath.
607 reviews36 followers
July 18, 2011
I cannot comprehend why this book has so many high ratings. The writing was awful. There were so many point of view changes that I got dizzy. Seriously, there were POV changes mid-sentence. That is just bad writing. Also, I'm not sure why, but I felt like this book was written like it was published in the 1990's (I can't think of a better way to describe it.) It's slow, there are pages and pages of description/telling, and something about the wording just seemed off to me. And all the POV changes were awful.

I ended up skimming this book, just reading the sections of dialogue, and I'm glad I made that choice.

I would guess that the reason so many people are saying this is a wonderful book is because of the LGBT themes in it. I'm not opposed to LGBT literature, but I want it to be good. The romance in this book was just as unbelievable as Twilight: I feel drawn to you for some reason (who knows what the reason is), but I don't know why, but I can't help it and oooooh look we kiss and now we LOVE EACH OTHER! DEEPLY!....right. Like that's the idea of romance we should be perpetuating.

I would recommend skipping this one.
Profile Image for Barbara.
75 reviews10 followers
December 11, 2010
I was at the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association)conference in November and was NOT one of the pucky people to obtain a pre-release copy of Huntress there although I heard the author speak and lusted after on. Two weeks later I went to the NCTE(National Cozuncil of Teachers of English) and snarfed up a copy the second I saw it available. I like books that are outside th normal fare. Huntress is not only different from Ash, it is different from any other paranormal or fantasy. It is only loosly a prequel to Ash, they are both set in the same universe where fairies and other creatures co-exist with humans in a not to easy alliance. Several hundred years seperate the two books, and the relationship between the species is different, but you lose nothing by reading them in either order, there isno true connection.

That said, I enjoyed Huntress even more than Ash.

Opening the book took me to a world where the fate of humanity rests on the shoulders of two teenaged girls, one a future mystic, the second a young huntress. Although they had been in school together, neithe had paid much attention to each other until they find themselves on a quest to answer the call of the Fairy Queen andtry to overcome the mysterious blight that is devistating the human world. And in the courseof this quest, the two fall in love.

Theirs is not a world where being a lesbian is a fate worse than death or cause for being ostricized. In one scene the king's son who accompanies them, asks the huntress if he will need to fight her for the love of the female guard traveling with them. The big issue between the huntress and her family is not that she is a lesbian, but that her father has already set up a politically advantagous marriage for her, just as he did her brother. Her mother explains that politically advantagous marriages involving two women are rare, and she will just have to obey her father. So she jumps at the idea of this quest to keep her away from her father and the unknown future husband he has chosen for her, at least for a time. The mystic has another problem, if she is to fulfill her destiny she desperatly wants she must remain celibate. But she also wants a future with the huntress she now loves. She has a vision of something terrible happening to the Huntress, and, as one member of the party after another dies or is injured she fears she will lose the girl she loves.

This sets up the final conflict between the two. Huntress doesn't have the traditional happily ever after ending, but once the ending arrived I realized it was inevitable. There was nothing else the author could have done and retained the integrity of the world she created. And that is the mark of an excellent storyteller, that she gives the ending a reader can accept as the RIGHT way to end the book.

I truly want to see more of this world and hope there will be more books coming.
Profile Image for Amanda.
161 reviews18 followers
March 21, 2013
I wanted to love this book. Someone recommended it to me and it sounded lovely. Romance between two girls, magic, fairies, epic quest, lyrical writing style.... what's not to love?


The POV kept headjumping, which is just about the worst thing you can do in a book. It was disconcerting and dizzying and I hated it.

Secondly, the lyrical style of prose was insufficient to carry the weight of the quest. Either we were supposed to read this as a real world adventure, in which case we needed *more* -- more about the girls, more about the world, more about the central romance, just more. Or it's supposed to be a metaphorical fairy tale, in which, the metaphors shred under the weight of even a second glance.

As an example of the flimsy metaphor: The Fairy Queen IS the Land. Okay, standard trope, I can accept that. But .... there's never ever ever been a break in the succession? Really? In thousands of generations of beings that live hundreds of years, they have never had a queen fall down a flight of stairs or get hit by lightning or murdered in a jealous fit or struck down by a rival or killed in war? That's a remarkably long-lived regime for an eco-system so fragile that it got nearly irreparably broken by one night of sex with a hot human male.

But the most damning thing about this book was the romance. It seemed to be that they fell in love for no reason, except maybe that they were fated to fall in love? Maybe Taisin fell in love because she'd had a vision about it? I just didn't buy it. I didn't feel like I knew these two girls at all or like I was invested in their relationship.
Profile Image for Sue (Hollywood News Source).
781 reviews1,594 followers
April 28, 2017
I don't know if authors make my life excellent or a living hell. Probably both.

That ending.

Even though the last part dragged, I would still consider Huntress as a fast paced High fantasy book.

Lo explored the fantasy aspect of the story really well. I find myself genuinely caring about the enthralling world building.

The characterization is consistent. I love the banter and humour between the characters. The chemistry between Kaede and Taisin is real. I'm in love. I want more.

Huntress is a slow burn book that will certainly leave its readers breathless. Highly recommended to fantasy fans. Mini review to come.
Profile Image for Logan.
511 reviews86 followers
March 7, 2011
First impressions: The world here was so different from any other book I've read recently. I couldn't put it down, because I was so curious about where this story was going. The first chapter is retrospective, so we see where things might end up, but not what has happened yet, and it is achingly beautiful.

Lasting impressions: Breathtaking. Grand. This fantasy was gloriously epic while still remaining a quick read and avoiding an overly complicated plot. This one is top notch.

Conflicting impressions: I didn't want it to end. I wanted more! I would have loved to have had more backstory on the state of the world and relations with the Fairy people. There's definitely enough here to make the story work, but a tad more information would have just filled in the edges a bit.

Overall impressions: If it wasn't already clear, I loved this book. Any book that can surprise me is on good footing already. One of the things I found so refreshing about this book is the love story that builds between the two female main characters. That in and of itself is a bit outside of the norm, but what really made me soar was that this budding attraction was not shameful, shunned, or disapproved of by their society. Kaede and Taisin are only kept apart by Taisin's path as a sage. Sages are to be celibate, yet the vision she has of the future, where she knows she loves Kaede, haunts her. How does she choose life as a sage or life in love at the vulnerable age of seventeen?

It's this struggle that defines the book. When the girls are sent on a quest to meet the Fairy Queen, and later, to battle an evil presence, the heart of the issue is this growing bond between two young girls who just want to do what is expected of them without losing themselves in the process. Malinda Lo handles this tension with exquisite ease.

Like any good questing fantasy, this one involves bloody battles (including one particularly violent clash with a band of wolves). Still, the love stories that wind their way through the novel are more emotional than physical, so I think it would be appropriate for the younger teen set as well. This book tackles so many of the struggles we all feel, and so well, that it would be a shame for any reader to miss out.
Profile Image for Carola.
346 reviews39 followers
May 16, 2017
Ok, so, thoughts.

This book has a lot of flaws.

The proportions for this book are way off. The introduction of the quest is very short and we don't get much of an explanation. This will be more or less fixed later in the story (or the author tries, at least), but nevertheless... Then, most of the book tells of the journey the characters take to the fairy city Taninli. This easily takes up two-thirds or more of the book. By the time they reach the city, there is not much space left to tell the rest of the story and it all feels quite hurried. Especially the final event, is ridiculously short and hurried. I wish the author had left some of the journey out and would give more details in those last parts instead.

Another big flaw is the portrayal of good and evil. The 'bad person' in this book (Elowen) is extremely two-dimensional. 'Evil' is portrayed black-and-white and the author attempts to explain Elowen's actions to make it more grey but fails. I also felt no emotion whatsoever for the fairy queen later on, although I think the author tried.

That said, I must also be fair and say: the book was never boring. The writing style was also quite pleasant. Although the amount of adjectives put me off at the beginning of the book (probably because I of the book I read before this, which was a masterpiece in my opinion), I began to like the style later on and the book was a quick read. It wasn't a terrible book, but I was expecting more. I've read plenty of young adult books with far more depth.
Another plus for the book: the world is interesting enough, although I wish we got to hear more about it (but perhaps that happened in Ash, which is apparently the same world?). I liked that sexuality was almost a non-issue in this world. Kudos.

I'm giving this book 2.5 stars, leaning more towards 3.
Profile Image for Cinda.
Author 54 books11.1k followers
January 23, 2012
Lots of action, two heroines who are kick-butt in different ways, a star-crossed lesbian love affair, high stakes and fantastic world-building. I hope Lo will consider writing more in this world. One of the major conflicts in my Seven Realms series is the tension between politics and love. I had never considered how a lesbian character would be even more likely to be forced to make that impossible choice.
Profile Image for Fade.
71 reviews13 followers
April 1, 2012
After loving Ash so much, I really and truly wanted to like this book. And maybe the problem was that I was expecting too much based on the previous book in this setting. Where the other book gave me a known story bent into a new and fascinating shape, where I wasn't quite sure how it would end, this one gave me a very straightforward quest. Instead of a close narrative from a single person's PoV, it was head-hopping casually in the middle of scenes.

But really, what frustrated me was the damn vision premise. A character starts out with a vision that everyone swears is completely true, involving a specific set of characters in a specific location... which means there is absolutely no suspense at any point up until that location is reached, because I can safely assume that everyone in the vision will reach that point, and anyone in the adventuring party who's not in that vision isn't going to fare so well. And indeed, the book goes on to continue to dwell on the vision at great length, adding more details, so that by the time the big climactic encounter arrives, it's...exactly what we were told it would be. Exactly. As we were told.

I continue to be baffled at this approach to plots. I liked many of the characters quite well, the setting was lovely, but I really do want to have at least a tiny bit of uncertainty as to how a plot will progress to keep me interested in a story.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
May 16, 2011
Huntress is a sort of prequel to Ash, but it is set a long time before it. If I remember rightly, this story is mentioned in Ash. Anyway, this story is about the journey of six people: Con, the son of the king; Taisin, a young woman who wants to be a celibate sage; Kaede, a classmate of Taisin's with no talent for the magic; and Shae, Pol and Tali, their guards. They have to see the Fairy Queen, during a period when nature has gone out of balance.

The story of the journey itself isn't really unique, but the love between Kaede and Taisin is. I loved the fact that the book treats them in pretty much the same way as a male-female couple is usually treated in fantasy stories -- I mean, that it seems natural and inevitable that they should be drawn together, and that their desire for each other is palpable and not treated euphemistically. Okay, there's nothing explicit, but the physicality of their relationship is there.

It's also easy to read, a quick read, and the situations and emotions ring reasonably true. The emotional involvement that was lacking in Ash was definitely there, for me, which made it that much more enjoyable.

I really wish books like this had existed when I was younger. I hope the arrival on the market of books like Ash and Huntress isn't just a one off.
Profile Image for Stormy.
27 reviews1 follower
October 18, 2013
Intrigued, I picked up a copy of Huntress. LGBT content and a fictionalized pseudo Asian world, what more could a girl ask for?

As it turns out, a lot.

The beginning of the book introduces the two main characters, Kaede and Tasin, two seventeen year old girls, are chosen to travel to the city of the Fairy Queen. The beginning of the book flies by to get the characters on the road, and it never seems to spend much time developing motivation or characters. We spend most of the book on the road, battling a few monsters. However, none of the battles they fight have anything to do with the villain of the story. Without building up the villain, it’s hard to care about whether or not they win the fight. We know little of the villain, besides the fact that she is destroying the earth through magic. The writing style relies on head jumps, and while most are easy to follow, a few left me behind.

With the girls, travels a prince, and two guards, the female one similar in age to them and the prince. Given so much time upon the road, there was a lot of potential for characters to grow and interact and make us care. Sadly, they didn’t make me care. The romance between Kaede and Tasin lacked reason and interest. There was no apparent attraction between them. It distinctly felt like the author just needed them to be together.

The ending left me lacking. Not only was

While I think it could have done with one more revision, there is definitely potential. It has an interesting world, which is also explored through a companion novel, Ash. It’s nice to get out of worlds that are inspired by Tolkien/Middle Ages Europe. It is two young women who save the world, which will be the clincher for some. And, while the romance didn’t jive for me, anyone out there looking for a innocent relationship may fall for these two.

Over all though, if I couldn’t sit through Frodo Baggin’s road trip, I’m probably not going to be able to sit through yours.

Read more on my blog Skyscapes and Bloodstains
Profile Image for Alex.
590 reviews135 followers
March 26, 2011
This book made me feel a lot of feelings. And for the most part, I enjoyed it. It was pretty delightful (except the ending which broke my heart into a million pieces and I was just like, "NOOOOO MY SOUL HURTS"). The BIGGEST thing that bothered me though was the narrator voice. I couldn't understand what was going on. Third-person limited??? Third-person omniscient? Sometimes I thought the chapter was third-person limited and ALL OF A SUDDEN, someone else's viewpoint would just be thrown in! Por ejemplo:

"Kaede's cheeks burned at the dismissive tone in her father's voice. Resentment seethed inside her, acidic and sour...

[Blah blah blah, some talking.]

Taisin glanced at Sister Ailan as if to ask permission, and when her teacher gave an almost imperceptible nod, she said haltingly, 'I-I saw you on a beach - a beach made of ice.' The memory of it washed through her; she felt the same loss and fear she had felt that night in the practice room, and beneath it all, she remembered the deep ache of love" (16-17).

And then it switches back to Kaede again. Wtf, Malinda Lo. This is an amateurish mistake at best, but it repeats itself throughout the book. I can only surmise that she meant to be third-person omniscient, but the consistency is questionable, and for the most part the only two perspectives we get are Taisin and Kaede. But sometimes an additional third character's feelings are tossed in there.

Ugh, aside from this, I really could have enjoyed the read, but this GLARING ERROR kept rearing its ugly head.
Profile Image for J H.
435 reviews6 followers
February 26, 2022
A reread from years ago

SAPPHIC BOOK BINGO: out of your comfort zone, non-US/UK setting, POC author and characters, not a romance (possibly other categories)

I'd give it 3 and a half stars, if that were possible. I had forgotten the whole story since I first read it around 2011 or a little later. It didn't follow a cookie-cutter fantasy plot, and it also contained both Chinese and Japanese mythology/lore, which was something else less common for my fantasy reads. (I enjoy many cultural mythology stories, though.) This time, I started it prior to a major surgery, and finished it two days post-op, which means that I really couldn't give a fair or thorough review. However, I still enjoyed the story.

I don't recall if it was labeled as being a YA novel, but that's what it was. Since the story wasn't a romance, it was obvious that the "quests" were the priority. It had a few points of view, but I've never had issues with that method of storytelling. As a middle-aged adult, my opinion and observations differ from the target audience's. I read Ash close to the same time as my first read, and I'd need to do that again to give a more informed opinion of the duology. My mental and physical condition for the reread wasn't conducive of a proper review.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
August 6, 2018
3.5 stars. Huntress definitely leaves Ash in the dust and presents us with something news. I still had a few complaints, but here my issues are outweighed by the positives.

The writing style here is also a plus! Lo's writing style is subdued, but it works very well for this story.

Kaede and Taisin, her two female leads, are well-rounded and interesting. Their romantic dynamic is equally well-written.

Unfortunately, the ending feels a little unearned. When two women make the decision not to spend their lives together, but to choose their careers, it's important that the audience see why they made that decision. Malinda Lo tries, but Taisin's decision feels slightly unearned.

The worldbuilding here was nice, although it felt a little unfinished. It was nice to see Lo drawing inspiration from traditional myths of Asia, rather than those of Europe. The fact that two of her novels are set in different places of the same world is awesome to me.

One more thing, and possibly the largest complaint I have: this book has severe pacing issues. It's flat-out boring to read at times.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Harrow.
313 reviews39 followers
January 5, 2020
The book was a slow read so i felt a bit bored at times but never for long. The action scenes were surprisingly good. I loved the world-building and the characters but most of all i loved the romance between Taisin and Kaede. I only wish we saw more of them.

"𝐓𝐚𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐟𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐦 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐢𝐝 𝐊𝐚𝐞𝐝𝐞. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐧𝐨𝐰, 𝐥𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤, 𝐊𝐚𝐞𝐝𝐞’𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐞𝐞."

It was so precious the way Taisin ran away from Kaede every chance she got to avoid falling in love with her, which of course she failed miserably at.

"𝙏𝙖𝙞𝙨𝙞𝙣 𝙛𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙙𝙚𝙙 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝 𝙖 𝙙𝙖𝙢 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙗𝙧𝙤𝙠𝙚𝙣. 𝙆𝙖𝙚𝙙𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙𝙣'𝙩 𝙗𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙝𝙚; 𝙏𝙖𝙞𝙨𝙞𝙣 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙗𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙝𝙚𝙧."

"𝙃𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙤𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙤𝙛 𝙆𝙖𝙚𝙙𝙚’𝙨 𝙛𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙤𝙣 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙠𝙞𝙣, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙤𝙛𝙩 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙢𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝. 𝙏𝙖𝙞𝙨𝙞𝙣 𝙛𝙚𝙡𝙩 𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙖 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙥𝙪𝙧𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙛𝙡𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙗𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚 𝙝𝙚𝙧, 𝙖 𝙨𝙚𝙖 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙢, 𝙚𝙖𝙘𝙝 𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙚𝙮𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙪𝙣, 𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙢𝙗𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙚𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙙𝙚-𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙠𝙮."

The prose were so beautiful.

The final fight scene and then the unicorn trial? amazing, show-stopping, spectacular.
Everything was great till the ending, which might be bittersweet to others but to me the most interesting part was the romance, so it broke my heart.
Profile Image for Anna.
72 reviews3 followers
September 16, 2011
About two thirds of the way through this book, I put it down, and it was so hard from then to get to the end. I realised I just didn't care at all about the characters. The pacing of the story is awful - the two big adventures happen in the last 70 or so pages of the book, and the first 300 are just travelling. There's ideas raised earlier on that are forgotten about, and I found the romance utterly unbelievable - they go out of their way to avoid each other and not speak to each other, and yet they still manage to fall in love? Sounds as bad as Twilight. I don't think there's enough character development at all.

This book could have been something good, it had potential. But a lot of work is needed. To me, it seemed like Lo started writing the book at her own pace, but then was given a sudden deadline to reach which made her rush through the actual main part of the story. But I just feel like hours of my life have been wasted, and it was such a struggle to get through. Dissapointing.
Profile Image for Dakota★Magic in Every Book.
701 reviews114 followers
March 17, 2016
This book had so much potential; an adorable, heart-breaking romance, interesting world-building, an epic quest, strange monsters, well done characters. Sadly, the book falls short on the writing. The perspectives switch in an untidy and often unexpected fashion which can really take you out of the world and adventure, as well as some plot points were a bit weaker. Certain things seemed too easy after the build up for an epic quest and it's difficulties. Doing my best to avoid spoilers, there's even a second quest near the end that is significantly shortened compared to the first quest, though it seems more important. I feel like with more editing and a better handle on perspectives, this book could've been outstanding. It gives me a lot of internal conflict when I do love all the potential and elements but am displeased with the presentation.
356 reviews
December 11, 2015
3.5/5 stars.

So I enjoyed this, I've heard really good things about Malinda Lo's books so I was really looking forward to it.
However it didn't blow me away, I thought it dragged on in certain places.
I really liked the writing, it was very descriptive and I could picture the scenes very clearly in my head.
The world was fascinating, the whole fay world was really unique. And I liked that the world was inspired by Chinese culture.

I liked how there would be multiple points of view in one chapter, it was really easy to follow the characters.

I looooved the lgbt+ element of the story, Kaede and Taisin were just lovely *heart eyes* And I liked how it wasn't the main focus in the story. It was still a fantasy novel.

Overall I liked this :D I'll be checking out Ash by Malinda Lo because I'm told Huntress is sort of a prequel to it.
Profile Image for Lindley Walter-smith.
202 reviews12 followers
June 20, 2012
Two and a half stars, really, but I was just so disappointed with this book. I loved Ash, and I was expecting another spare-but-beautiful and emotional lesbian fantasy. I was excited about the Chinese mythological components, too.

Instead it felt a bit like something you'd read on Fictionpress when someone writes a better-than-average fanfic set in a Dungeon and Dragons world. A ranger, a mage, a warrior, a prince and some redshirt guards, who you don't learn much about because they are obviously going to be dogfood, are assembled into a company and set out on a quest to save their country, after a prophetic dream. They fight some evil stuff, and there's a visit to an elven/Faerie/whatever castle, and a climatic battle.

A lot of what was wrong with it should have been caught by a decent editor - there is constant head jumping, to an incredibly irritating degree - sometimes mid-paragraph - and far too much tell-don't-show. There are also some really horrible, clumsy sentences.

Perhaps because of this it was hard to care less about the two protagonists (the mage and the ranger) and their romance. Despite some broad strokes (one is a peasant and scholar, the other a vaguely rebellious noble type) they never really develop distinct personalities, or behave in sympathetic or even logical ways. Even after the mage-type character explains she is dedicated to celibacy, the other girl just kisses her and then is "oh, wow, wonder why she ran away?" - there's never any real attempt to talk out their problems or reason them out.

It doesn't help that the structure is odd. There are three quests. The first one, and the preparation for it, seem to take forever. The second is over really fast. And the third one seems to take longer to explain than it does to happen. As for the ethics of the second and third quest... well, let's just say that I don't understand why the third quest makes it all magically better instead of worse.

Worst of all, though, and what lost it an entire star, is the ending.

Perhaps the bad ending was setting up for a sequel, but as things stand, I'm really not feeling motivated to shell out for one.

Ending aside, it's really difficult to believe that this was written after Ash, which is a wonderful book. This one just seems far more amateurish, and far less accomplished.

Profile Image for Morgan.
45 reviews15 followers
May 29, 2019
4.5 stars

This was one of my favorite books as a teenager and I decided to reread it as an adult. I can see why I loved this book so much, not only because it was the first lesfic fantasy novel I’ve read, but the beautiful way in which it is written.

Malinda Lo has a talent for storytelling, which sucked me in from page one. Her beautiful descriptions made me feel like I was traveling beside the heroes on their journey to save the world. I wish more lesfic writers were this talented. I’ve read some critiques saying it can be difficult to read because of all the POV changes but I didn’t mind it. As long as you know the POV changed frequently, it’s not hard to decipher who’s speaking.

I liked the romance aspect of the story. It didn’t take long for the characters to develop feelings for one another, but the romance itself didn’t move at a quick pace. I enjoyed the fact that in this world, falling in love with someone of the same gender wasn’t described as abnormal. No one questioned it when it finally happened, not even the two girls.

My one complaint is the ending. For me it felt abrupt and left me with questions. Maybe I’m just a sucker for happy endings that are neatly packaged and well rounded, but this left the conclusion for the reader to decide. I’m sure this was done purposefully, but it just didn’t sit well. I would’ve loved an extra chapter at the end to explain what happened.

All in all I’d read this book again if the mood struck me. I’d recommend to anyone who loves a lesfic fantasy story.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
250 reviews329 followers
August 10, 2015
You know, on one hand, I feel guilty for not liking this. But at the same time I want to watch this book burn in hell, along with Twilight. Because that's basically what this book is -- a Asian version of Twilight featuring lesbians. Meaning a whole load of boredom, blandness, and insta love.

Review to come.
Profile Image for Marie the Librarian.
1,374 reviews229 followers
December 17, 2015
ARGH I LOVED THIS!!! YES TO MORE LESBIAN FANTASY NOVELS WHERE GIRLS KICK ASS AS WELL!! I just adored this book so much. It was so cute and well-written and the characters OMG. I love Kaede and Taisin and Shae. It was fast-paced but not too fast-paced. I JUST LOVE IT OK
Profile Image for Wendi Lee.
Author 1 book468 followers
March 28, 2017
I loved the first 70% of this book, a tale about two teenage girls who fall in love on the way to Tanlili, a Fae city. The characters are diverse and the places they travel to on their journey are full of atmosphere and mystery. They're unlikely heroines in an entourage of a Prince and his royal guards.

And then we reach the Ice Fortress and everything gets .... weird. There's overly lyrical writing, and characters don't respond the way they have before. The Fairy Queen makes absurd demands, and instead of any of our protagonists speaking up and questioning her (and there are three of them!!!!), they just agree to do her bidding. The final "request" feels rushed and doesn't have the same impact it's supposed to have. The ending was watered down and disappointing.
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,916 reviews192 followers
December 31, 2010
I loved Malinda Lo's first book Ash and was excited to about Huntress. I got this book through Book it Forward ARC tours. It was a wonderful book. The story was more complicated and expansive than Ash. It again features a romance between two women, there is also a lot of adventuring and some magic.

Kaede and Taisin are two girls in their late teens. Kaede is the daughter of a the King's Advisor and more knowledgeable in fighting and handcrafts than the magic at that the academy she attends. Taisin is a prodigy at the academy and has a vision involving her and Kaede and a castle of ice. The land the two girls live in has fallen on hard times and the situation is dire if winter is not brought to an end. The two girls end up being sent along with the King's son on a journey to visit the Fairy Queen in hopes that the Fairy Queen will be able to help them end the long winter that is gripping the land.

This book is written much in the style of Ash; so if you liked that book I think you will enjoy this one. Lo writes at a deliberate pace with beautiful descriptions that create lush images in your mind. The romance in the book is keep somewhat innocent and sweet, as it was in Ash. The two characters that fall in love are both women, but it isn't the same sex issue that makes their love star-crossed, it is more an issue of class and occupation. Lo gives us a wonderfully sweet and adventurous story that features these two women, each strong in their own way, and doesn't really make a big deal about their sexuality...which is how it should be.

There is a lot more action in this book than there was in Ash and a lot more adventure. Rather than being blunt about magic this book has more a tone of magical realism about it. This book is supposed to be the prequel to Ash; but, although the world is the same, the customs of the characters are distinctly Asian and the cultures have a very different feel to them. You definitely don't need to read Ash to enjoy this book.

Both Kaede and Taisin are admirable characters, they are strong and yet have a lot of moments where they doubt themselves. I enjoyed reading about them and found them likable. I love Lo's writing and while the pacing is slow at some points, especially when the characters journey through the Woods, I think that the pace is appropriate in that it helps the reader get a sense of their grueling journey.

The book ends well, although I think some readers will be a bit bothered by it. I personally enjoyed the ending, is wasn't fairy tale happy but it was realistic and kept with the tone of the rest of the story.

Overall a wonderful new book from Lo. I will continue to read Lo's works. Lo gives us deliberately paced novel, with beautiful description, heart-pounding adventure, and a sweet romance. If you loved Ash you will love this book. Fans of classic fantasy adventure with a thread of romance through it will find lots to love in this book.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews205 followers
January 19, 2015
The seasons are out of whack throughout the land: clouds cover the sky, too much rain falls, crops cannot thrive, and the people are going hungry. When the King receives word from the Fairy Queen that things are not right with them, either, and she wishes to meet with his representatives at Midsummer, Taisin and Kaede, students at the Sage Academy, are selected to accompany Prince Con on the long, dangerous journey north. Each girl wonders whether she is equipped to handle the challenges -- and her growing attraction to the other.
The Good: This book is printed in a font I really loved looking at, which helped get me to the end. And to be fair, much of the writing is really beautiful, with the occasional deep insight and heartfelt moment.

The Bad: I very much wanted to love this book. I liked Lo's first book, Ash, and was greatly looking forward to this sequel, which appeared from the title to be about how the tradition of the King's Huntress came about. And it is about that, kind of, in a long, meandering sort of way.

I had two big problems with this book. The first is that the first chapter, all of two pages long, gives away too much of the plot. It should have been cut, and if you decide to read this book, I recommend skipping immediately to Chapter Two. You won't miss anything but spoilers that ruin the tension of the story. My second problem was that the author tries to use omniscient point-of-view, but it's done in a way that felt very amateur-ish and head-hoppy to me, so I never truly connected with any of the characters. I'd think I was seeing through Kaede's eyes, then suddenly it would turn out to be Taisin, or Con, or Shae, or even, in the climactic scene, a sudden pop into the villain's head(!), for no good reason at all. It drove me up a wall. And because of the head-hopping, too much of what everyone was feeling was simply told, not shown in a way that made me feel any of it myself. It was very distracting.

Because of the lack of tension in the story or connection with the characters, I put this book aside several times and read other books instead. And now that I've finally finished it, I don't really feel that the story made satisfactory sense, either. I had to ask, "But WHY?" in response to plot points just a few too many times. In some ways, this felt much more like a first novel than ASH did.

So, sorry to say, I can't recommend this book. Read ASH instead if you want to support Malinda Lo and lesbian love in YA stories. I may yet read Lo's next book, but HUNTRESS was a messy, boring disappointment for me.
Profile Image for Cal (Cal's Reading Corner).
660 reviews40 followers
August 29, 2022
Read more bookish goodness on my book blog: Cal's Constant Raving Reviews

Fans of Six of Crows and A Court of Thorns and Roses will LOVE the Huntress!

I read it in my Kindle in one sitting, and I think I had a smile on my face the entire time!

Okay so some may prefer Con and Shae, BUT I AM IN LOOOVE WITH TAISIN AND KAEDE. They are the cutest lil beans ever.

And they're gay!!!

THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING. It had GAY WOMEN in a HIGH FANTASY WORLD doing BADASS missions and saving their people.

I will gladly reread this!

"'Do you regret it?'
Shae sighed and looked away. 'How can I regret what I did, when it kept me alive?''

"'Do you think it will make a good story?' Taisin asked. 'The prince and the guard, who fell in love on a journey to the Fairy Queen's city.'"

I can't believe this is where it finishes. I need more!

Let's just say I'm heavily impacted since there's finally a good fantasy out there that's diverse.
3,035 reviews10 followers
June 7, 2011
I didn't like it as much as I liked Ash. I was enjoying the first 3/4 of the book, although I thought it was a bit much that so much of the book was about getting TO the quest, and so little about the heart of the matter itself. I think that much of my disappointment had to do with the climactic scene with the Big Bad Evil Person, whose defeat depended on too many villain cliches. Then, not only was the climax rushed, but there was a painfully awkward anticlimax that just didn't feel right. It was of the "characters X and Y did something bad, so let's atone for it by sacrificing an innocent bystander, to prevent the end of the world" variety. That's like fending off the apocalypse by shedding the blood of the king's barber's nephew's dog. It lacks both the power and the connection...Basically, it failed the "could a world work like this" test for me, and I lost my connection to the ending as a result.
Before that, I was enjoying the book immensely, and was wondering how the story could possibly be resolved in the small number of pages remaining. The answer was, by not finishing with as rich a story as the rest of the book.
Profile Image for Melinda.
102 reviews10 followers
December 14, 2019
Was this the best fantasy book I've ever read? No. Did the end seem rushed / resolved too neatly and quickly? Yes. Did I enjoy every minute while reading it just the same? Absolutely.

Maybe I'm a sucker for mythical realms and queer main characters whose same gender attraction isn't their only Dilemma. There's just something about universes with royalty, fae, and girls who like girls.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,408 reviews190 followers
February 25, 2020
I've been meaning to read this ever since I read Ash, but alas it's been a while.

Huntress takes place in the same world as Ash, but many centuries earlier. The world is out of balance: the sun doesn't shine and crops are starting to fail. When the stones and oracles are consulted, it is decided that Taisin and Kaede will be the ones to accompany the Crown Prince to the land of Fairy at the Queen's invitation. This may be the chance the humans need to mend relations with the fey, but the trip is bound to be dangerous.

Malinda Lo narrated her own book and wow was I in love! She did a stunning job and now I want to listen to her narrate all her other books. I don't remember a lot of Ash, so it's hard to compare the two books, but I know I loved this one just as much.

I loved all of the mythology references and complicated history between the humans and fey. Plus the slow burn between Kaede and Taisin almost killed me. I wish this book had be longer since the end left me wondering about the state of their relationship. I want to know if Taisin confronted the sages! I have so many questions. But the overall story was so well done. I can't wait to read Lo's other books.
Profile Image for Cyna.
219 reviews260 followers
July 28, 2014
Hey, guys! We’re back, and with another generally engaging and rewarding reading experience, once again provided by Malinda Lo.

Thank you

A lot of what I got excited about in Ash has carried over to Huntress, which makes sense, given that Huntress is a companion novel/prequel, with the same world, same writer, etc. So once again I almost feel like I’m being spoiled with the abundance and variety of women, and the distinct lack of lady-hate and needless Alpha Bitches. Our lead characters, Taisin and Kaede, exemplify this rather brilliantly. They are very different characters from different backgrounds, with different personalities, skill sets, and perspectives, who could very easily be set into an adversarial rivalry, and they might be, in a lesser book. Instead, they fall in love. It’s a fucking beautiful reprieve, let me tell you.

Similarly, I enjoyed the expansion of the world we initially came to know in Ash. It felt more fleshed out this time, albeit differently. We got a further in to the mechanics in Huntress – what exists, how magic works, how the fae and humans interact, what their history is, and even a small taste of politics, all of which I’ll admit I sank my teeth in to a little deeper than I did with the Ash‘s fairytales.

I mentioned in that previous review that I had a few questions along these lines, and while they did get answered – vaguely – I’m still mostly in the dark as to why the gender-power dynamics are so weirdly selective. Council of exclusive female magical elders/advisers to the king? Check. Female guards? Check. Options for women’s education? Check. Lady-lady relationships? Still pretty cool with that. Women still pressured into political marriages that only rarely provide opportunities for same-sex unions? Yeah, still doing that too. I dun get it.

Huntress‘s exploration of the world several centuries before Ash also allowed Lo to shift the setting to one more Asian-inspired, and it’s an element that I enjoyed quite a bit. Admittedly, I’m not very familiar with Chinese culture, which is, I believe, what Lo drew from, but I thought the sort of European/Chinese mash up here was particularly well-handled. Nothing felt exotified or Othered, and there was a blessed lack of fetishistic weeby over-compensation. Lo included enough pointed detail to to prevent the reader from falling in to the white-as-default assumption, but for the most part, she just allowed things to be.

Granted, I dunno about this world transforming into the generically European-medieval one we found in Ash in only a few centuries, which doesn’t seem long enough to change everything so completely, culturally, and yet very little in terms of technology, but eh. It’s not super important.

Finally, I found Huntress to be a huuuuuge improvement over Ash in terms of plot development. Again, I’m not super familiar with classic fantasy or fantasy-related tropes, but Huntress struck me as having a fairly typical plot structure, just from what I do know of the genre. It’s a quest novel: the characters are given an objective at the start, they go on a long journey fraught with setbacks, revelations, and loss, and then, you know, they fight. I enjoyed the set-up and most of the execution – it was simple, but the stakes were high, the challenge…uh, challenging, and the interpersonal conflict appropriately ~dramatic~. The pacing was miles better as well – Lo kept the story moving forward, and there was always a sense of progression, like we weren’t just wasting time walking in circles with these characters so that we could pad out the page count. At the same time, the road towards the climax provided ample opportunity for the characters and world to be developed. It’s a goddamn efficient plotline if nothing else, and for a fantasy newbie like myself, it was compelling and engaging.

Plus, sidebar: the fairy stuff was great. Lo’s fae society has remained fairly mysterious over the course of these two books, but it’s been enough to make me super-intrigued by them, and how they work inter-personally. It seems like all of the ones we’ve gotten to know as individuals have been similarly cool and aloof and very SRS FACE, and I can’t really see that working for everyone. Like, where’s the fae comedy relief? I wanna meet that person.

But. BUT BUT BUT. There were problems okay. Mostly the writing. Oh my goddddd the writing.

I think it might have actually gotten worse since Ash? Or at least, the style is completely different, so any of issues that showed up there – like the constant declaration of emotional states – can’t be chalked up to the expositional style anymore...

Read more at You're Killing.US
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