Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
Talyn the Dark is the Hunter. She was taken nearly 300 years ago by the Caisah, the man who destroyed her people, the Vaerli, in the Harrowing. She has now become his “hawk.” She is a strong fighter and never loses a bounty. For this, the Caisah sends her out for prey and when she succeeds he promises another piece to the puzzle that will help bring her people back to greatness.
Finnbar the Fox is a storyteller going from place to place telling different tales of the people of Conhaero and how they came to be from the White Void. He would love nothing more than to see the Caisah brought down. He begins to weave a hint of rebellion into his tales. When the Caisah catches word of this, he sends his Hunter out for a new prey.
I found Hunter and Fox difficult to concentrate on while reading. It is so full of this new world and these new people. Everyone had something bad happen to them at the Harrowing. Now people live in a world where the landscape is constantly shifting and they utilize new names, true names, and perceived and hidden selves. Seriously, on one page Talyn may be referred to as Talyn, Hunter, Vaerli, hawk, etc. This is the first book I’ve read by Philippa Ballantine so I can’t speak as to a particular writing style. In Hunter and Fox the reader is thrown into this world with no background information given. You learn about the past as the story goes. Similarly you learn about the people and their powers/magics as the story goes as well. Sometimes, this is fine. However, there is so much to take in at times it becomes overwhelming.
I found it was easier to focus on the basics of the story, a world ruled for centuries by a tyrant and what happens to people on all sides when it’s time for rebellion. The rest of the details just enhance the reading experience.
There were other storylines besides Talyn and Finn’s but they are the titular characters, and therefore the main focus of the story. Talyn and Finn have a past. He remembers. She doesn’t. Vaerli are immortal. Because of this immortality, obviously, they live lifetimes and in order to keep them from going crazy, they have the ability to let memories go if they so choose. Talyn, sadly enough, chose to let the memory of Finn go. She sees herself as set on her path and anything that could make her weak, like love, has no room in her memory. Finn, even after all the years, is still drawn to Talyn. He wants to mean as much to her as she means to him.
Talyn, unfortunately, has lived so long under the Caisah’s rule; she is blinded by her mission. She knows the Caisah is evil, yet she can only see the release of her people from their current state back to what used to be. Other Vaerli are afraid of Talyn, in their eyes she is no longer a Vaerli. She knows that they feel this way about yet she still “fights” for them. That was one of the frustrating things about her character. You want so badly for her to leave her current situation, but she believes in the grand scheme of things that she’s doing good. In the end it will pay off. You can’t fault her for that; misguided as she may be.
There are a lot of twists and turns in Hunter and Fox, and the ending leaves off rather abruptly for all involved. Book two Kindred and Wings was released in early August, and I feel like I need to pick it up right away to continue the story while I’m still in the mindset otherwise I may forget a lot about the complicated world Philippa Ballantine created.
Sexual content: Kissing, references to sex