The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu
Maxine Kiss is a Hunter with a capital H. She is the latest in a long line of Kiss women–women who wear living tattoos as armor and kill the possessed for a living. They also live alone, forming no attachments. But Maxine want more–she wants her boyfriend, Grant, and a home. In between slaying demons, she works at a homeless shelter, finding a place where she’s something more than a killer.
Then, something powerful passes through the veil into this world, and Maxine is in its cross-hairs. And only she has the dark power–locked away deep insider her–to stop it. But if she gives in to that darkness, she will lose herself and everything she loves. It sucks to be the Hunter.
The main character being named “Maxine Kiss”, I braced myself for yet another paranormal romance with a small side plot of demon-killing. What I got was a stark, crisp world and a dark mystery. There is some romance in the novel, but the book sits comfortably in the Urban Fantasy genre.
Liu drops us into Maxine’s world with a fully-formed setting and complex back story. I kept stopping to go to the internet to check yet again that this really was the first of the series. Turns out, it is. But it continues the tale that begins in the short story 0.5, Hunter Kiss, a part of the Wild Thing anthology (with Maggie Shayne, Alyssa Day, and Meljean Brook).
While the book reads like the middle of a series rather than its introduction, this also suggests that the second book and its story will go down a lot more smoothly, now that I’ve had a crash-introduction to the world and its characters. Now back to the rating:
Three canaries for story:
For me, the biggest struggle the story faced was the seeming lack of forward momentum–even as everything was happening all at once, kept losing the sense that the story was galloping forward. Even as mysteries piled on the main character, her attempts to unravel them all seemed to hit the dead wall. She’d go seeking answers, and meet the characters in the know who would all, to a tee, say: “I know what’s going on, and I’d tell you, but it’s a Secret!”
At the end of the story, I’m still not quite sure where I landed. Still, as frustrating as this is, it does build up the potential for the sequels.
Five canaries for style:
I did so love the writing style (delicious prose!). If you’re still on the fence, here’s the novel’s opening sentence: “When I was eight, my mother lost me to zombies in a one card draw.” Click here to read the sample.
I would recommend The Iron Hunt to any fans of Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Adventures, especially if you enjoy stories that involve a strong heroine having her world turned upside down because of her heritage. Give it a try if your favorite books include Moning’s Fever series, Melissa Marr’s Wicked, or Kim Harrison’s Hollows series (in that order).
You might also want to check out:
- Book Review: The Firebirds Anthology
- Series Review: Patricia Briggs and the Wolves
- Series Review: Patricia Briggs and Some More Wolves
- Book Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher