My second book review for FanaticSpace, and my second round of being thrown straight into an established urban fantasy series which I had no real knowledge of before receiving the book from the gracious and wonderful people over at Wunderkind PR. (Disclaimer for FTC regulations – I have received this book at no cost) I had a bit of a moment thinking about what I was getting myself into when picking up A Wild Light, third book in the Hunter Kiss series by Marjorie M. Liu.
This time though, I have no problem in saying that without any reservations, I completely and utterly adored this book. Marjorie M. Lui has found a brand new fan of her work in me, and I will be picking up the other books in her Hunter Kiss series.
Why did I like A Wild Light so much? It’s complicated story, but not too complicated to put off someone who is just coming into the series. Complicated enough that while I had to take a bit more time really understanding her world-building, the story kept pushing you through until you felt that you were caught up in the back story without really noticing that you might have been lost at all.
Maxine Kiss is the latest and so far last of a unique bloodline of women warriors protecting the Earth from an other-dimension prison full of demons and other nasties, with the help of five demons of her own. During the day, these five demons cover and protect her body by embedding themselves as tattoos, and at night they separate from her into their own unique identities. There is a darkness inside her as well, which she uses to help channel her abilities to fight the demons and zombies that occasionally escape from an inter-dimensional prison that is her duty to protect against ever opening fully.
The book opens with a bang, showing her and “the boys” (as she refers to the five demons) in their element, hunting zombies. It’s a special day in more ways than one, being both Maxine’s birthday and the anniversary of her mother’s death. After finding and exorcising the demon from an unfortunate possessed, she leaves for a more traditional celebration of her birthday at her grandfather’s apartment with friends and family, not knowing that everything in her life would be turned upside down and what was normal for her would never quite be the same again in a matter of hours.
Maxine awakes the morning after the party in her own apartment, covered in blood which she knows isn’t her own and a huge hole in her memory that she can’t shake, even after finding the source of the blood on her kitchen floor in the form of her grandfather, his throat slit. Before much can be sorted out, a stranger shows up in the apartment, who the boys are obviously close to, but Maxine doesn’t know at all, and cannot accept that this is the man that she’s been sharing her life and her bed with for some time.
Desperate to find out who and what happened to her grandfather, terrified that the darkness inside her is taking over and even more disturbed that this stranger standing next to her could be someone that she would be in love with, Maxine is thrown out of the semblance of comfort that she had built with her life in Seattle in search of answers and also the fight of her life.
I think that the amnesia that Maxine suffers from in the beginning of the book was one of the most helpful to me when being brought into this series. Maxine is learning about herself and her life along with the reader, but it’s not so heavy-handed that I think someone familiar with the series already would be put off. Things that Maxine would have more than likely taken for granted had she not suffered from this amnesia would have been harder to explain to someone new, and this was a very good way of bringing a new reader in without alienating the existing fans.
Nothing came from out of left field with this story, no matter how otherworldly and odd it seemed when it was initially introduced. Marjorie M. Liu shows herself as a master world-builder in this book by having me completely on the edge of my seat when it came to caring about all of the characters and their world right from the beginning and through to the end, which had a real resolution without closing all the doors to allow for another series book with a declared story arc. At the end of the book, I wanted more only from the next book, not from the book that I was holding in my hands, which I really think is one of the best things you could ask from a book.
A Wild Light is available from Ace Paperbacks. More information about Marjorie M. Liu’s work can be found at her official siter, www.marjoriemliu.com.