|Electra (starlady) wrote,|
@ 2012-01-19 11:19 am UTC
|Entry tags:||a: lo malinda, books: chromatic author, books: chromatic protagonist(s), books: fiction|
It took me way too long to find the time to read this novel, which is longer and less of a fairy tale than Lo's debut novel Ash, and I think, even better for it. Although it's set in the same Sino-Celtic world as Ash was, Huntress takes place many centuries earlier, when the Chinese influences of Lo's secondary world are much more evident, and the institution of King's Huntress had not yet been created, or transformed into what we saw of it in Ash. Happily, as in Ash, a queer love story lies at the heart of the book, and though it ends differently than I was expecting, it's very satisfying all the way through.
The meat of the novel concerns Kaede, a student at the Academy for sages who has no real talent with magic and whose powerful father, the King's Chancellor, wants to marry her off to someone who will make a good political alliance. Kaede is delayed from this unenviable fate when the sages declare that she must accompany a novice sage, Taisin, along with the King's son Prince Con, to the court of the Fairy Queen in the north at her invitation. Everyone presumes that the disorder in the natural world for the past two years--no seasons, no sun, and then no harvests--is due to some breakdown in the balance between fairy and human realms, and the hope is that Kaede and Taisin, who is besieged by the dubious gift of true visions, will somehow be able to restore it. Needless to say, the journey along the way, and what lies at the end of it, irrevocably changes them both.
I had the pleasure of being on a panel with Malinda Lo at Sirens 2010, and one of the things she said at some point that weekend was that Robin McKinley had been a huge influence on her as a writer and as a reader. I think you can see that in Lo's prose, which is perfectly pitched and measured; I couldn't tell you the last time I noticed someone using the word "gelid," but in her writing, it works, and it works beautifully. Without spoilers, I thought the way the plot resolved was innovative--at least, not what I was expecting, which was quite nice--and very real. All in all, an excellent book.
There is also a story at Subterranean Magazine, "The Fox," set two years after the end of the novel.