Recent Reading: HUNTING by Andrea K Höst



Is this a YA or an adult story? If you’ve read it, what do you think?

We have a great protagonist, Ash, who is a girl disguised as a boy, a trope I always enjoy if it’s well done. Except she’s not a girl, really. She’s young, but she’s an adult woman.

Ash is 21. She’s passing herself off as an almost-17-year-old boy.

What I like best about Ash: her adult-ness. She can pretend to be a teenage boy quite well, but then she can pretend to be practically anything — she’s a social chameleon, good at observing the social milieu and adjusting her own behavior to get everyone else to do what she needs them to do. She’s not mean about it, but she’s definitely manipulative.

That’s not what makes me declare that she’s an adult, though.

Ash is not just good at sliding into and out of social groups, she’s also good at setting aside her own feelings in order to pursue a goal. Not only that, but if she starts to get angsty, she cuts it off and takes decisive action instead. Not only that, but she automatically moves to protect others, especially children. And not only that, but that scene where she is maneuvering the Rhoi’s heir out of his new fear of heights, that is totally an adult interacting with a boy.

Mind you, I love Ash. But she doesn’t strike me as a YA heroine.

Thornaster is an excellent male lead and his reaction when he finds out Ash is actually a woman is perfect. It’s entertaining how little the revelation matters, in fact; this is one book where it’s not a disaster for the girl to be unmasked. Not only is Ash perfectly capable of dealing with the fallout and anything but emotionally overwhelmed by being revealed, but also she’s surrounded by people who are surprised, but who handle it. I liked this, because I almost always enjoy competent protagonists and dislike angst. But it’s an unusual treatment of the girl-passing-as-boy scenario.

The metaphysical background is the other thing I particularly liked in this story. The stars really are gods, the Sun and the Earth really do bring forth life in a very direct way, it’s all ornate and interesting. I like the butterflies and moths, and *naturally* I particularly like the phoenixes.

I will say, the clutter of names and titles at the beginning could be confusing. Also, this is one murder mystery where a lot of motivations are left dark. Was it *all* mind control weirdness or did some of those people know what they were doing? Why and how did the main bad guy survive? What *about* the mage who was killing herbalists, where did she come from and why did she get involved? She didn’t seem to get a lot out of her presumed deal with the bad guy. I actually felt quite sorry for her, not to mention that the motive for killing the herbalists in the first place seemed thin to me. Also, the final resolution of the problem seemed unduly brisk and simple, though I suppose having gods on your side would be helpful at those moments.

So I’m not sure I would say this is a story to read for plot. If that’s the main thing you enjoy, this one might not be your favorite. But Ash and Thornaster are delightful, watching their relationship develop is a pleasure, and I will certainly be coming back to re-read this one again.

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4 thoughts on “Recent Reading: HUNTING by Andrea K Höst”

  1. I really hope ms.Host will write some more books in this world. I liked it a lot, but there’s plenty room for more stories here, which could also deepen the insight into some of the motivations and people in this book.
    I think that’s why some of the underlying actions and motivations for some people seem sketchily adressed here; leaving room for the rest of the story to be told in other books.
    I get the feeling the deposed god has much longer-term and broader plans; though he’s been foiled in this plot he seems to have been out to destabilise the situation for longer, and in more countries, than this foiled plot deals with.
    I want to read more about Ash and Thornaster’s adventures, going home and dealing with his family and the situation in his country. I would also like to read about the adventures of those members of Ash’s gang who are taking that abducted heiress home
    The awful situation on the island of feral beast-mages needs adressing at a responsible-gods level (probably by setting up some capable people to do something, which might give them an opening at the metaphysical level…), and how & by who that wolf-mage could be sent to do murders while living in such abysmal circumstances (that was certainly not an ordinary human rogue mage hired for money sort of setup!) – that needs to be dealt with at a human level, and may give clues to a way to deal with that island.

    I’m very glad that she did write/is writing a sequel for Stained Glass Monsters, and that it’s probably going to be published this year.
    I rather hope she’ll do something similar with the other Pyramids of London sequels, and write something else at the same time, though the something else at the moment seems to be another new multiple volume series about the Singularity game, and not a sequel to Hunting.
    Though I’m not a gamer, I’ll buy and read anything she chooses to write, as I’ve enjoyed every one of her books so far; but I can’t help hoping just a little bit that at some point she’ll write more in this Hunting world. I liked both Ash and Thorn and a lot of the secondary characters, and the world with the Earth, Sun and Moon setup, and the differences in the cultures of the different countries that we’ve hardly touched on yet, and it’s clear there’s lots of room for more interesting stories.

  2. I liked HUNTING, but not as much as some others of Host’s books, and I think it’s the ending that does it. It seems rushed and confused, although when I think about it, things aren’t, but that’s what it came across as, if you understand what I’m trying to say.
    I would be interested in more in this world, for sure.

    And thanks, Hanneke, for the news that she’s working on another Eferum book. I recently reread SGM and wanted more.

  3. So did I!
    It’s called The Sleeping Life, and she posted the beautiful cover it will have on her blog, a couple of weeks ago:
    She’s been pre-ordering some lovely covers for the next books she plans to write, and showing them on her blog.

    I do think the hurried feeling to the ending of Hunting is at least partially because of the threads left dangling; which makes me feel that sequels were intended, at least at that point of writing.
    But in all the lovely new covers there’s none for a Hunting sequel, and as those will fill her writing schedule until the end of 2017 at least, and with two series set to continue beyond that I’m not sure if she really intends to write one after all those.

  4. Hanneke, I agree, there seems like plenty to go on with in the world of HUNTING and I’d like to see more, particularly of the Black Carlyon’s son.

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