Monday, July 14, 2008

The Iron Hunt - Marjorie M. Liu

The Iron Hunt
Hunter Kiss, Book 1
Marjorie M. Liu

Urban Fantasy

Maxine Kiss is a Hunter; the only remaining Hunter. She wears tattoos that function as impenetrable armor during the daylight hours. At sundown, these tattoos take on flesh and become separate entities. Maxine calls them “the boys” and they’re the only family, the only protection she has. The tattoos came to Maxine from her mother when they decided it was time. This left her mother vulnerable and she died. This is the fate of all Hunters: to give birth to a daughter who will one day take on the tattoos, leaving the mother open to attack.

The job of the Hunter is to fight demons. Most demons are held in a prison fashioned ages ago and located behind the veil. Every now and then a demon manages to break free, but it requires great power to do so. Unlike her mother, who trained her body and mind daily, Maxine has allowed herself to become complacent. When she feels something rip through the veil, she knows that it’s something large and powerful; something unlike any demon she has fought. It may be the end of everything.

Readers should be aware, first of all, that this novel has its beginnings in a novella in the book WILD THINGS. If you haven’t read the story – and I haven’t – then reading this book feels like being dropped into a strange city without a map. The first few chapters almost read like an outline of a story, with choppy sentence structure (a stylistic choice, clearly) and references to unknown events. There’s a difference between creating suspense and frustrating your readers by withholding information.

At this point, Maxine is practically a cipher. She remembers her mother being a “badass” fighter. Her grandmother was an adventurer who lived life. Maxine, thus far, seems to be hiding from life. That said, there are plenty of scenes throughout the book that are reminiscent of various legends. The similarities are not expressly explained, but that may come later in the series. Or it may be me, reading too much into things. If you take this novel as laying the groundwork for what’s to come, many of my criticisms are nicely laid to rest. And there’s more than enough mythology and unique fantasy elements to make me interested in reading the next volume to see how this develops.

Rating: 7
July 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01606-8 (paperback)


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