Author: Malinda Lo
Series: Prequel to Ash
Published: Available April 5, 2011 by Little Brown
Source: Book It Forward Tours
Description: To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance.
I Give This ...
I really enjoyed Lo's debut book Ash. So, when I saw this one, I knew I had to read it. I knew it was a prequel, and I was excited to step back in the world that had been created.
The time frame is a bit odd. I don't think I was able to every pinpoint exactly when this story was taking place in regards to events in Ash. It was just safe to assume, it was a number of years (if not centuries) before. The world felt the same though. Only we learn that they fey don't have much of a presence in the human world. They're a legend told that no one is really sure to believe. Until an invitation comes from the Fairy Queen that the human King can not ignore.
Enter in Kaede and Taisin. What's funny, is these to girls actually reminded me a lot of Ash and Kaisa. I wish we actually learned more of Taisin. She seems like a very powerful girl who is just learning how to harness her powers. Because of this, I think we as the readers are never fully able to understand what she can do. She's quiet, but the Fey especially never underestimate her. I also liked Kaede. I don't think she fully understand herself. All she knows, is that she refuses to be a pawn in her father's political schemes. She doesn't want to accept the role presented to her. Which was another point of the story I found interesting. Typical female/male roles aren't really seen. The guards sent on the mission aren't all male, the cook is male instead of female, the prince is in love with the guard. And most important, marriages aren't always arranged between males and females. It's just the way of the world.
I actually found the story to be slow moving but beautifully constructed. We spend half the book journeying to the Fairy Queen's castle. The descriptions of the journey, the woods, and the Fairy city itself was great. But, I had a really hard time changing pace when we reached this point. All of a sudden we're off on an assassination mission to the ice island. Which is the source of all that is off in both the human and the fairy worlds. And then we're back in the fairy city, but things have gone from bad to worse and we need to go hunt down a unicorn. It was way to fast after the slow build up. But, I really enjoyed how Kaede's involvement is what lead to the creation of the Fairy Queen's Huntress. She was the first.
I'm curious to see if the story can continue from here. I would like to see what happens to Kaede and she becomes the hunterss. It seems she's had to give up a lot to get there. Which brings us to the last point. Lo is know for the LGBT tone in her novels, and this is no exception. It doesn't feel out of place at all, but almost like a point she's trying to make. That the herione of the story doesn't need to fall in the love with the prince to make a picture perfect ending. And, I'm totally ok with that!