Disclaimer: The amazing humans at HarperCollins Canada were kind enough to send me an arc of The Huntress in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions below are my own unless otherwise stated.
Triggers: intense physical abuse, emotional abuse, PTSD, death, murder. This book is based during WWII, and as such, many triggers related to war are in it.
“They called her die Jägerin — the Huntress.”
The Huntress is a captivating story told from three very different perspectives about the hunt for an elusive Nazi war criminal.
Nina Markova is… well, amazing. As a young girl, she grew up in a rural village in the Soviet Union with an abusive father. She manages to escape, and joins the infamous Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment during WWII. Gunned down behind enemy lines, she struggles to survive in the wilderness, and one day, comes across the Nazi murderess known as the Huntress.
Ian Graham is a British war correspondent suffering from PTSD after experiencing the war in the trenches. After the war, he becomes a Nazi hunter, but one target eludes him: the Huntress. Ian and his partner Tony will do whatever it takes to find this lethal murderer.
Jordan McBride is a young, budding photographer living in Boston with her father. Several years after the war, people are happy to just forget what happened and move on, including the new woman Jordan’s father is seeing. When they move quickly on to marriage, Jordan has to decide whether or not she can leave her stepmother’s past alone.
“But the war was over, and the victors had won the right to decide what was a crime and what was not.”
I really like Kate Quinn’s writing style. She created a compelling story that made me want to keep reading. It was well-paced, and the time shifts – it moves from the late 1930s to the mid 1950s – worked in its favour.
“What’s a rusalka?”
“A lake witch who comes to shore trailing her long green hair, luring men to their deaths.”
My one complaint was that it seemed quite obvious who the Huntress was – even for me, and I am terrible at figuring these things out. However, I realized after a while that the mystery about who she was, was not necessarily the point. The point was the chase, the hunt.
And the chase was something else! I was genuinely unsure about how this story would end. At times, I thought they had her, but at other times, I thought she would get away. Quinn manages to keep you guessing about that right until the end.
“They need people who are a little bit crazy. Because crazy people do well in wars.”
Each character has their own story, but they are all connected as well. Some are connected in ways that will truly surprise you. While the mystery of the Huntress was not really a mystery, there were many smaller twists throughout the book that shocked me.
Without giving away spoilers, there were many great side characters as well. Tony, Sebastian, and Yelena all add intrigue and heartbreak to the story. The Huntress also gives us bisexual, lesbian, and gay rep! Considering the time period, these stories were well done, though heartbreaking, in my opinion.
Quinn also deserves to be recognized for the amount of research that went into this book. The author’s note shares a piece of it, but she based nearly all of the stories in this book off of real life experiences – which is both amazing and terrifying. There was an actual all-female night bomber regiment in the Soviet Union, and they sound badass!
“I stalled last night on the fourth run and practically scraped grass by the time the engine kicked in. It was low enough I heard shouts coming from the Germans as they ran for cover.”
“What did they shout?” …
I really enjoyed this story, and while Nina was my favourite to read about, I did enjoy the other stories as well. Seriously. Nina is amazing. There are some interesting moments with her and her father, and her conflicts about how she feels about him – she loves him, but he is abusive. I loved everything about Nina, except the way she drank tea…
“Ian was transfixed by the way she was dropping heaping spoons of strawberry jam into her teacup. He’d never seen anyone do that to an innocent cup of tea in his life. Bloody hell, it was barbaric.”
Jordan’s development was probably the best, but that was likely because of her situations – with her boyfriend, with her stepmother, and with Ruth, the young girl who becomes her sister. She has some great moments of strength that are admirable, but she also faces struggle, which is believable.
Quinn also manages to remind us that we remember for a reason. We remember the horrors so we don’t repeat them. But have we already forgotten?
“The dead lie beyond any struggle, so we living must struggle for them. We must remember, because there are other wheels that turn besides the wheel of justice. Time is a wheel, vast and indifferent, and when time rolls on and men forget, we face the risk of circling back. We slouch yawning to a new horizon and find ourselves gazing at old hatreds seeded and watered by forgetfulness and flowering into new wars. New massacres. New monsters…”
If you enjoy historical fiction, war stories, and/or stories about intense chases/hunts, I highly recommend you check this out!
The Huntress releases on February 26, 2019.
Note: All quotes above were taken from an advance reader’s edition of the book, and are subject to change in the final release.