Kate Quinn is one of the few authors I follow religiously and her books have never disappointed me. I absolutely adore her Ancient Rome series, and her Borgia books are among my favorite Borgia books out there (and you might know I have read most of them!) I was also super impressed with The Alice Network – book review here.
The Huntress is as masterfully written as all the ones before, but it impressed me with its mere scope. Not that Kate Quinn has not pulled that before – the impressive time frame is there in The Lady of The Eternal City (it encompasses the entire rule of emperor Hadrian), the plethora of controversial characters we have in The Lion and The Rose, and the absolute bravery and historical dexterity to tackle the painful memories of the world wars are what makes The Alice Network so compelling. But the mixture of all three in a perfect balance makes The Huntress a remarkable historical novel.
The book intertwines three points of view and three time frames, which gradually merge into one. British war correspondent Ian Graham turned Nazi hunter, Soviet pilot Nina Markova, once part of the all-female night bomber regiment, dubbed by the Nazis “The Night Witches”; and Jordan McBride, growing up in Boston right after WWII, dreaming to be a photographer when everyone is expecting her to get married and settled, are three of the main characters, but above them looms another. Their fates are all connected with the elusive thread that is Die Jägerin – The Huntress. Her role in their fates is one that first calls for vengeance, then for reckoning.
I loved how the pervasive themes in this books touch every of the characters in a nuanced specific way: Trust and why and to whom we give it; Right and wrong, and who has the right to say which is which; And possibly my favorite – underestimating women has done no one any good!
Central to the novel is the juxtaposition of Nina and Die Jägerin – two lake witches and two huntresses, each giving the other an unshakable fear. And while I was loved the Huntress from the beginning in all her villainous glory, I have to say I was no fan of Nina’s – probably because I find Russian characters bizarre outside of Russian literature. However, the story of the Night Witches is one I enjoyed immensely – I would never be surprised to learn of how badass soviet female pilots were, but to feel I was up there with them was precious! In the end, learning what Nina’a one fear had been all through the chase, was one of the strongest punches the novel delivered.
Among all the strong compelling main characters, somehow my favorite was Tony – a somewhat of a sidekick, a little bit of a love interest, and always apt to deliver a punch line. I loved how Kate Quinn wrote him into a personality entirely his own – and one very much needed at times, when the book got just a bit too heavy. And it did…
What broke my heart the most, was Jordan growing to love a woman, who, with all the terrible things she has done, in the end had also become her friend and confidante, who had been the one person to believe in her dreams (with an ulterior motive, too, yes, but not entirely, I think).
On a side note, though – who could believe hot cocoa can become a creepy drink. None for me, thank you very much!