July 23, 2012

Recommend A... Book I Read This Year

Recommend A...is a new weekly feature hosted by Chick Loves Lit, where bloggers recommend a book based on a specific prompt. This week's prompt is to recommend a book I read this year. 

Goodreads synopsis: 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.
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.
The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo's highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.
I read this novel at the very beginning of this year (either that or at the very, very end of last year), before I started blogging or even had a Goodreads account. I first heard of Malinda Lo in reference to her story Ash, a Cinderella retelling. A good friend of mine, who adores fairy tale retellings just as much as I do, told me how much she loved Lo's reinterpretation of a Cinderella who falls in love with the King's Huntress rather than the prince. It sounded a little out there from my normal kind of book, but I trust her recommendations so I got both Ash and Lo's more recent novel Huntress to read. While I do think that Ash is beautifully written, I was much more drawn to Huntress.

Huntress tells the story of Kaede and Taisin, who are both acolytes at an academy. Kaede is more skilled in physical fighting while Taisin is training to become a Sage. Taisin has visions of the future and sees a vision of Kaede, accompanied by a deep feeling of loss and longing. Taisin refuses to acknowledge the vision or the implication that Kaede could come to be someone important to her.

Lo’s prose is absolutely beautiful and really helps give the conflicts between the girls more depth. The relationship between the two girls develops organically, and as a reader it just made sense to me. The main issue of their relationship lies not in the fact that they’re both female, but instead that Taisin has been training to become a celibate Sage. It is also refreshing how while their gender is never ignored, it does not become the defining aspect of their relationship. I also loved how the narration switches between Taisin and Kaede, so that readers get to understand the inner psyche of both girls.

This is a world full of magic and terrors, and Lo does give her readers plenty of examples of those aspects of her world. At its heart, however, it is about two young girls struggling with their feelings for each other and their hopes for the future. This is my favorite book by Lo, and  I will definitely check out future books of hers.
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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. This one is on my TBR pile too!! Ahh I love the love story and angst that you mentioned, I need to bump this up in the pile!!

    1. Yes, you definitely should! It's very good. :) And I feel as though it hasn't gotten as much attention as it deserves.


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