Saturday, January 9, 2010

First Read of 2010: The Iron Hunt

The Iron Hunt (Hunter Kiss, Book 1)
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Publisher: Ace (June 24, 2008)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages

Summary: Living tattoos: demons of the flesh, turned into flesh, the only family demon hunter Maxine Kiss has left—and the only way she can survive, and fight, the imprisoned demonic army waiting to destroy humanity.

I've had The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu on my To Be Read shelf since November, and just got to it last week. Ms. Liu's books are new to me, so I just dived in knowing nothing about the plot or characters. First, I wish I had found her books sooner because she is a unique, talented writer. Her ability to describe a world so different from our own is incredible. At different points in the book she tells the tales of women from three different generations, and does it in a clear, concise manner so full of emotion that I felt as if I was there with the main character, Maxine Kiss.

Maxine is a Hunter, a protector of the Earth. Her tattoos cover her body from the neck down, and they come alive at sunset with her small warrior demons she calls The Boys. The Iron Hunt is a dark fantasy, or at least that's what I would consider it, but The Boys are often a source of comic relief though they are dangerous and sly. This scene had me laughing, and was the first of many:

"They sat beside me, all in a row, legs too short for the leather seat. In unison, they swung their clawed feet, hands clasped in their laps. Deceptively prim. Little smart-asses."

The Boys are family to Maxine and she's known them all of her life, even before they became part of her skin. Maxine also has Grant Cooperson on her side. He's her comfort, the only person that makes her feel close to safe, but she knows one day it's going to kill her. She's not suppose to count on anyone or anything, except for The Boys, and even they have moments where they seem to leave her on her own.

I love Ms. Liu's style of writing. It's dark, descriptive, often sarcastic and sometimes philosophical. Her characters are quirky and sometimes not what they seem. Fans of Vicki Pettersson and Jeanne C. Stein will love this book. It's a gritty, enthralling read. I loved that the author gave us glimpses into the lives of two previous Hunter generations, so we learn about Maxine's mother and grandmother as the story progresses.

There are elements of "romance" in The Iron Hunt as Maxine reveals her feelings about Grant, but there aren't any sex scenes. Honestly, though I won't deny a need to learn more about Grant and Maxine's private moments, it's not necessary in the book. Ms. Liu does a wonderful job conveying the emotion and need between them without the sex scenes.

The Iron Hunt has been put on my To Be Read Again shelf, which is a good thing. I'm ordering the second book in the series, Darkness Calls, this weekend. I will also have a review up soon for Inked, (released January 2010) an anthology which includes a Maxine Kiss novella.

You can read excerpts of The Iron Hunt and find out all kinds of other nifty information on Marjorie M. Liu's website here.