Carolyn’s Original Review: June 2010
Original Rating: 3.5/5
The Iron Hunt is fairly grim reading in that there’s virtually no humour and there aren’t that many highs, which gave the book quite a sombre feel. But due to snappy writing and very interesting characters The Iron Hunt is a solid first instalment and I enjoyed it a lot.
‘Into every generation a Slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness…’ OK, so The Iron Hunt isn‘t Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of it when reading this. It’s like Buffy for grownups–only without Joss Whedon’s wicked one liners.
I so wanted to love this book, I’m a tattoo collector myself, and love to read anything revolving around tattoos! That combined with one of the best opening lines I’ve ever read had me believing that this novel would be awesome. The first line brought so many images to mind. It is funny, yet dark and disturbing. It had me thinking all kinds of dark, evil plot lines could grow from it. They didn’t really pan out, though the world is an interesting concept in its own right.
As good as the world turned out to be, it had so much scope for more. More, angst, darker; I was a little disappointed when it wasn’t as gritty as I thought it would be, and Maxine seemed to be a rather weak character, living in the shadow of her mother.
Maxine Kiss is a hunter and warden, the last of a long line of hunters that are there to stop the demons who slip through the veil from hurting humans (Buffy fans will see why this made me think of the show).
She was taught to hunt by her mother practically from the cradle, and upon her mother’s demise inherited five demons who take the form of tattoos in the day time making her invulnerable, and then peel off her body in the evening becoming her bodyguards and lethal fighters. From that moment on she let her training slip, let her ‘boys’ take over the fighting and became quite complacent; the demons seem to think she’s some kind of super-hunter, but this never quite comes across. The other characters carry her throughout.
I don’t want anyone to think this was a bad novel, there are some truly wonderful aspects to it, the basis of the world and the different types of demons leave room for so many possibilities. Maxine’s supporting characters are brilliant.
The demons, Zee, Aaz, Raw, Dek and Mal quickly became a bit of light relief, with their childlike glee mixed with ruthlessness. Maxine’s lover Grant is my favourite. He runs a homeless shelter, is an ex priest and can heal souls by playing music. He has a bad leg and walks with a cane, and he believes zombies can be reformed. I just know there’s more to him than meets the eye.
I was really hoping that we’d find more out about Grant, his unusual power and how he and Maxine met, but unfortunately this doesn’t happen, I suppose it could be left for later novels.
The Iron Hunt Had many of the elements I look for in urban fantasy, yet it didn’t seem to utilise them to their fullest. Within the first chapter, I found myself rereading the blurb and even checking the internet because I thought maybe it was the second book in the series. I’ve since found out there is a prequel short story in an anthology; this shouldn’t make much difference to The Iron Hunt, but I think it does. I couldn’t help thinking I’d joined the story in the middle or that I was missing something vital.
Part of this could be because it’s written in first person and as a reader we only know what Maxine knows, and she doesn’t seem to know much, but part of me believes that it was Liu trying to be mysterious and not give away everything in the first novel. If this is the case, it’s clumsily done and could have been executed so much better.
I don’t expect to find out everything in the first novel of an ongoing series, where would the fun in that be? But the world needs to be set solidly. I need to gain a better understanding of the characters and their place in the world–even if it turns out to be a lie at a later date. A first novel should not have me wondering if I’m reading the series out of order.
I started out thinking I was going to love this book, and although it does have moments of brilliancy, great secondary characters, and a good premise for the world, none of that seemed to mesh properly and I was left feeling like I’d missed something vital.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- The Iron Hunt
- Darkness Calls
- The Wild Light
- The Mortal Bone
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