Review: Huntress (Ash #0.5) by Malinda Lo

A few years ago, I introduced myself to Malinda Lo’s work. I’ve read Last Night at the Telegraph Club, a LGBTQIA+ historical fiction set in San Francisco during the Red Scare in the 1950s. I really enjoyed this read, so when the Dutch translation of Huntress was announced, I was really excited. It’s a fantasy based on Chinese folklore and mythology, with LGBTQIA+ characters as well. Did it meet my high expectations?

Book cover of Huntress by Malinda Lo

Title: Huntress
Author: Malinda Lo
Series: Ash (0.5)
Publish date: April 5, 2011
publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 371
ISBN: 9780316040075
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My thoughts

When writing this review and retrieving all the book information, I found out that Huntress is the prequel to Ash. That clarifies a lot… Unfortunately, this book is not sold this way on the Dutch market, so my reading experiences are probably influenced by this and therefore the wrong expectations. I thought this book was a stand alone novel and I found it lacking in so many ways. Oh well, this still is my reading experience, so without further ado, here we go.

Huntress is told through a multiple POV narration. We follow Kaede and Taisin, who both study at the academy. Taisin is a sage who has multiple visions. Kaede on the other hand, has nothing to do with magic. Both girls are selected to go on a necessary, yet dangerous journey to the faerie world to save the mortal realm. However, I cannot tell you anything interesting about both girls, because they fell incredibly flat to me. I found their characters lacking and pretty boring. Alternating between both POV’s didn’t help me. I just read the story and that’s it. I had no connection and felt no chemestry at all between the girls. They should grow closer to eachother slowly according to the blurb, but I found it rushed. Moreover, I have no idea what drives the girls and what they want to reach in life, nor why did study at the academy and what for. This is partially world building as well.

The writing was okay, not spectacular. The plot is the same as the characters, boring, lacking and very predictable. I didn’t feel any connection either. Probably this has to do with my lack of knowledge about the Chinese folklore and mythology. Or maybe it’s the story itsself. It seems like this is Lo’s first book, but I’m not that sure. For me, literally everything fell flat. The world building was off balance too, the academy was briefly mentioned but not explored more. Why was the academy there? What are the students trained for? Et cetera et cetera. The travelling the girls did was explored more in depth, which was great. Nevertheless, all the action the blurb speaks off is incridibly rushed and not tense at all.

Huntress was really disappointing for me. The entire book fell flat and for me it was just a quick in-between read without any connection. However, Malinda Lo’s potential is visible, but it just didn’t came through really.

In short

Things I liked:

  • The quick and easy writing;
  • The book being an easy in-between read;
  • The visibility off the author’s potential.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Everything fell flat;
  • The characters are boring and lacking personality;
  • The world building is not excecuted really well;
  • The boring plot;
  • The connection I was missing.

Have you read this book or other books by Malinda Lo and what were your thoughts?

One thought on “Review: Huntress (Ash #0.5) by Malinda Lo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s