Book Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Posted October 9, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 8 Comments

Book Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Dystopian, YA
on September 1, 2015
Pages: 374
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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They came after the Diseray. Some were terrors ripped from our collective imaginations, remnants of every mythology across the world. And some were like nothing anyone had ever dreamed up, even in their worst nightmares.


Long ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were ripped open, and it’s taken centuries to bring back civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. Now, the luckiest Cits live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the hideous creatures fighting to break through. Others are not so lucky.

To Joyeaux Charmand, who has been a Hunter in her tight-knit mountain community since she was a child, every Cit without magic deserves her protection from dangerous Othersiders. Then she is called to Apex City, where the best Hunters are kept to protect the most important people.

Joy soon realizes that the city’s powerful leaders care more about luring Cits into a false sense of security than protecting them. More and more monsters are getting through the barriers, and the close calls are becoming too frequent to ignore. Yet the Cits have no sense of how much danger they’re in—to them, Joy and her corps of fellow Hunters are just action stars they watch on TV.

When an act of sabotage against Joy takes an unbearable toll, she uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in the city. There is something much worse than the usual monsters infiltrating Apex. And it may be too late to stop them…

Also by this author: Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Closer to Home, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea, The Hills Have Spies, The Bartered Brides, Dragon's Teeth, Eye Spy, Breaking Silence, Pathways, The Case of the Spellbound Child, Jolene, Passages, Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, The Serpent's Shadow, The Oathbound, The White Gryphon, The Silver Gryphon, Beyond

First in the Hunter dystopian urban fantasy series and revolving around Hunter Joy Charmand.

My Take

It was weird reading this. I kept expecting a typical Lackey and got more of a YA dystopian story that reminded me of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, Marie Lu’s Legend, a touch of S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and a nasty chunk of George Orwell’s 1984.

As someone who doesn’t care for organized religion, it did make me laugh about the Diseray with the Christians believing it was the Apocalypse. Joy makes a good point about how disappointed the Christers were when they didn’t get lifted into heaven. Either they were all sinners or their religion had been lying for centuries. Hmmm…

Elves…oops, I mean Folk, are NOT at all nice guys in this one. I certainly don’t think of them as nature lovin’ either! It’ll be interesting to read the next in line to find out more about them.

While Lackey does a beautiful job of informing us about this world and the backgrounds of the individuals, past events, and the settings without using info dumps, she’s got a lot of tell going on without much show. I’m not sure if her heart wasn’t in it and/or if she’s been too influenced by other YA dystopian stories. Whatever it is, I didn’t feel much in the way of tension, and it’s a story made for tension.

It is a scary story for all that. Simply reading about how the world we know has changed, and how it only gets worse when her uncle secretly has to caution her, could make you worry. And then it gets even worse. I don’t think much of the human government either with all the spying they do on everyone, and no one dares say anything negative. I guess it shouldn’t astonish me how often other characters are surprised that Joy is serious about being a Hunter, about her duty to her world. Sounds like quite the cynical world with this power-hungry bunch.

It’s through Marly and Knight that Joy learns the truth about Apex City with their selfish concerns and no problem with extorting the Territories to get what they want.

Going out on dates is complicated for Hunters. The date itself is officially noted, and the Hunters must go to the Image Center to be fluffed and dressed. The dresses they put together for Joy do sound pretty.

It’s worth reading if you absolutely adore YA-type dystopian stories, otherwise there are plenty of better stories out there.

The Story

One after another, calamities befell our world. Now we need Hunters with their Hounds to protect us whether we live in protected enclaves like Apex City or independent villages out in the Territories.

It’s a lie … and extortion … that forces Hunter Charmand to Apex City. One of the few protected cities and where Joy discovers one conspiracy after another. And enemies who will do the unthinkable to destroy her.

The Characters

Joyeaux Charmand is a Hunter with seven Alberijes, the Zapotec version of a Hound. Hounds who can change their shape. Bya is the alpha; Dusana, Begtse, Chenresig, Shinje, Kalachakra, and Hevajra make up the rest of the pack.

Apex City is…

…on the East Coast, one of the few cities that has managed to resurrect itself. Perfect Charmand is Joy’s uncle, the one who deposited her at the monastery. Josh Green is her uncle’s personal Psi-aide and a Psimon. (His brother was the second gunner on that train.) Premier Rayne is this world’s equivalent to a president and is in charge of ordinary citizens; General Priam is in charge of the military with each side doing what they’re best at.

The Hunters are…
…revered as vid stars with their popularity rising or falling according to how the citizens view them. Hunter Ace Sturgis is at the number one spot, and he has two Hounds: Myrrdhin and Gwalchmai. The Hunters Cielle, Tober, Raynd, Bithen, and Ace’s brother, Paules, are all part of Ace’s “pack”. Other Hunters include Lars, a practical joker who means well; Bendel is an adrenaline junkie; Garent is always trying new spells; Trev invites Joy for the evening analysis; Jade; and, Dazzle with her fabulous light show.

Hunter Karly becomes Joy’s new mentor. Karly has four Hounds, two of whom are Hold and Strike. Hunter White Knight, a.k.a., Mark Knight, is a Christer that most of the Hunters avoid; he has four Hounds who look like lions and can fly. He calls them his angels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel. Bya and the rest of his pack like him, and they refer to Mark’s Hounds as the Saints. Verity is Knight’s girlfriend back home.

The Elite are…
…the best of the Hunters who take out the big monsters; they report directly to the prefect. Armorer Kent is the one we meet.

Gayle Pierce with Apex Prime and Johnny Night are newscasters. The Barriers are energy that prevents, supposedly, the Othersiders from getting into the city. The Prime Barrier is supposed to be the main protection for the city. Spillover is a no-man’s land that should be protected between the Prime Barrier and the other barriers — but isn’t. People with no jobs have to live there.

The Monastery is next to…

…Safehaven near Anston’s Well in the Colorado mountains, and it’s a safe haven for anyone who arrived. All faiths, all kinds. Each faith brought its own magic. Master Kedo Patli is Joy’s mentor. Hunter Pieter Sanders is an Apex City reject who was supposed to be training Joy. Brother Vincent is one of the Christer religious leaders. Kei is Joy’s best friend at the monastery. Others include Ivor Thorson who knows all things Norse; Mary; Hudson; Big Tom; Little Tom; Ramona; Caleb; Rory; Andi; Luce; Shen; and, Aci are Hunters, masters, and villagers.

A Hunter is a human able to do magic and summon Hounds. Hunter magic comes to them in the shape of a manadala on the back of their hands, a design burned into them when their hounds arrive. Hounds answer only to the person they choose and form a pack. Each pack has different abilities and shapes. The Hunters use their magic and Hounds to battle the Othersiders, the supernatural beings, who invade from the Other Side to kill and eat humans. Bamphing is teleportation. Manna is magical energy and everything has it. The younger you are, the more you have, and the tastier you are. Psimon are mind readers, and everyone fears them. Think of a Perscom as an Apple iWatch.

The Diseray is actually a Dies Irae, a.k.a., the Wrath of God, a catastrophic event that turned the world upside down two-and-a-half some centuries ago. The masters believe that the nukes set off later allowed for the Breakthrough that let the Othersiders through to our world. An Othersider Incident is when “monsters avalanche over your town and wipe out everything that gets in the way”. Christers are Christians. Cits are ordinary citizens with no magic.

The top of the hierarchy amongst the Othersiders are the Folk, especially those Folk Mages *shudder*… Then there are the Drakkens which are the top of the “food chain”, Kraken, Wyverns, Leviathans, Gogs and Magogs, Furies, Harpies, Kobolds, Hobs are like roaches, Knockers can be found in underground places, Gazers paralyze you with a look (they sound like jellyfish) and they work with Jackals, Redcaps, Wailers (think Banshee), Ketzels look like miniature Drakken, and Vampires among others. A goblin market is used to catch children.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a white foggy background with a wyvern sliding across the cover, his huge red reptilian head rising up to look out at us, filling the cover. The author’s name and the title are both in an embossed black. I’m curious if the innocence of the cover is meant to represent the decency that Joy projects.

The title is Joy, the Hunter with several quarries to track down.

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8 responses to “Book Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

  1. Nice review! Yes, this one was definitely different from Lackey’s usual. (Although her usual varies quite a bit, from the Valdemar books to the dragons of the Alta series to the urban fantasy of the Bedlam’s Bard and Diana Tregarde series.) I’ve never seen her write true dystopian before, though.

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