5 out of 5 stars.
I received an ARC of this work
One of my favourite authors finally branched out into YA. I am so excited!
Joy is a Hunter, born with magical powers and the ability to summon otherworldly hounds to help her combat the vicious magical creatures that have invaded earth in the future. She has spent all of her life in a comfortable and intimate mountain village, but her uncle has just summoned her to the area’s capital. Attacks are going up and they need every available Hunter to help protect their most populous and advanced city.
While an excellent Hunter with a larger than average pack of hounds, Joy is not used to the celebrity that accompanies Hunter’s outside of her rural home. Her life is now monitored constantly and distributed as reality television. Some Hunters are more worried about their ratings and fans than about protecting people, and since Joy quickly climbs in the ratings, she faces competition from other jealous Hunters. There is also intense political pressure on the Hunters to not reveal how dangerous their job is, or how many dangerous creatures are managing to sneak pass the city’s barriers.
This book is a mixture of science fiction and fantasy. The setting is science fiction: in the future with lots of cool tech, while the characters are fantasy: magic wielders combating fairy tale creatures like red caps. Lackey does it really well and the combination of elements really adds texture and interest to the story.
One of the things I like best about Mercedes Lackey is how her books tend to have a good number of characters. Too many fantasies (I am looking at you George R.R. Martin) load up their fantasy worlds with so many characters you cannot possibly keep track of them. On the other end of the spectrum, many YA authors feel the need to only have a protagonist, antagonist and a few love interests, resulting in a lack of character variety. Lackey balances her characters nicely, introducing a variety of genders, ages, and sexual orientations. There are enough characters to keep things interesting, but not enough that you start having to keep physical lists.
The use of slightly modified/ science fiction-ified fairy tale and mythological characters as the antagonists and allies of the Hunters was really creative and just the type of thing I go for. She took something old and twisted it slightly until it works in a new setting.
Lackey’s books usually end on a very sweet note, with the good guys triumphing over the bad guys in fairly classic feel-good endings. It is sappy, but I really like that about her works. I read too many dystopians where the happy ending is just that a few people survived, so having the bad guys justly punished and the good guys rewarded is emotionally satisfying to me. It is corny, but it still gets me every time.
I would recommend this for fans of both science fiction and fantasy, as well as anyone who is tired of YA novels with too much predictable romance and not enough action. Mercedes Lackey rocks and you should all adore her.