Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.
Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.
With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.
Hunter drops us right into the thick of things, introducing us to this post-apocalyptic paranormal world and our heroine as she faces down one of the beautifully brutal fae on her way to a new life. From there we hit the ground running, learning the ins and outs of the various otherworldly creatures who make everyday life difficult as Joy runs into them on her Hunts, all the while slowly unraveling the politics behind the superstar quality to life as a Hunter.
Joy is a young woman we can't help but love the moment we meet her, the size of her ego inversely proportional to her abilities as a Hunter, ensuring she has us in her corner before she even steps foot off the train. She's quick to share her knowledge with her fellow Hunters instead of keeping it all to herself, and is equally open to learning what they have to teach her so that she can better protect those who cannot protect themselves. Despite being used to Hunting solo, she adapts easily and becomes a team player through and through, unfazed by the celebrity status of some her fellow Hunters and focusing on the job at hand.
The pacing does take a slower turn midway through, the Hunts Joy is sent on feeling a little like empty action as it's not entirely clear where her Hunting is heading in the grand scheme of things. The romance also leaves a little to be desired, emotionally quiet enough that the story would likely be equally successful without it, but it's possible the relationship will increase in importance as the series continues. Those two flaws aren't enough to detract from an altogether thoroughly entertaining story however, with the final one hundred pages flying by as politics and Hunting clash and try to bring Joy to her knees.
Overall, Hunter gives us a unique paranormal world full of little-known creatures who wreak all kinds of havoc, as well as a heroine who is gorgeously strong and quick-thinking; a true badass who doesn't even realize how badass she is. We're left in a satisfying place, a lot of questions as of yet unanswered but it's clear we'll figure things out together with Joy as we go, and I for one look forward to teaming back up with her and her ever-growing pack of hounds.
Mercedes Lackey is the acclaimed author of over fifty novels and many works of short fiction. In her "spare" time she is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. Mercedes lives in Oklahoma with her husband and frequent collaborator, artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots.
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