The Iron Hunt
Marjorie M. Liu
Silver smoke winds around my torso, peeling away from my ribs and back, stealing the dark mist covering my hands and lower extremities…tattoos dissolving into demon flesh, coalescing into small dark bodies. My boys. The only friends I have in this world. Demons.
I am a demon hunter. I am a demon. I am Hunter Kiss.
By day, her tattoos are her armor. By night, they unwind from her body to take on forms of their own. Demons of the flesh, turned into flesh. This is the only family demon hunter Maxine Kiss has ever known. The only way to live—and the very way she’ll die. For one day, her demons will abandon her for her daughter to assure their own survival—leaving Maxine helpless against her enemies
But such is the way of Earth’s last protector—the only one standing between humanity and the demons breaking out from behind the prison veils. It is a life lacking in love, reveling in death, until one moment—and one man—changes everything…
If you read the prequel to the series in the anthology Wild Thing you get a pretty good introduction to the series. Maxine Kiss is a complicated woman. And I think the writing style and story itself mimicks her perfectly. It's fast paced and can be choppy at times but once you become accustomed to the writing you get sucked into the story.
It was a slow start at the beginning for me. Like I said, you have to warm up to the writing style. But the story itself was intriguing. Maxine is someone I definitely liked. A demon hunter, the last of her kind, clearly given a purpose and meaning in life and yet many questions remained unanswered. Throughout the book there are new twists, that involves new characters, at every turn. I did feel there wasn't much background information and that I jumped right in the middle of Maxine's story. But that didn't necessarily put me off. Maxine was struggling as well. So it was as if I was riding along with her watching together as her life unfolded.
The boys...How I love them. Especially Dek and Mal. Little demons passed down through generation after generation of hunters. They have a big appetite and a cute sense of humor, but they are fiercely loyal to Maxine. And Grant, Maxine's ex-priest boyfriend. How great is he? He obviously cares a lot for Maxine and for once she has someone she can be herself around. No need to hide her tattooed body or the boys themselves. Grant in fact has his own special powers that indeed help Maxine fight demons.
There are a number of characters thrown at Maxine that the reader becomes quite familar with. I personally found myself a little frustrated. For some, I didn't like at first and then they went off and helped Maxine, for reasons not quite clear, and my feelings changed. Some I quickly wanted to dislike but couldn't. Especially Tracker and Oturu. I get excited just thinking of all the different possible stories related to them. And the Meddling Man, who might in fact be Maxine's grandfather. Her one link to a family she no longer has. Don't get me wrong, there are bad guys. But they too, seem complicated in their intentions. I felt bad for Maxine as well. It seemed everyone she met was somehow intertwined with each other and she seemed to be the last one to find out. How frustrating that must have felt, I can only imagine.
One thing I must point out: there wasn't much romance in the book. Which wasn't a complete let down for me. Sometimes I tire of the romantic scenes. While I was looking for them somewhere in the story, I wasn't upset when I didn't find any. It seemed there was no room in the plot to add romantic scenes. Well, okay, I take that back. There were one or two parts where Ms. Liu could have helped Maxine out a little. But mainly the story was so exhausting for Maxine, I can see where she didn't find the time.
Another thing that sort of threw me off was the back cover. Seems to me there should have been a strong male lead character that affected Maxine in a big, big way. Maxine is already involved with someone and it's hard to pinpoint who the man was in the book that changed her life.
Even though, to me, this wasn't Ms. Liu's best work, I found myself not wanting the story to end. I was left with more questions than I had at the beginning of the book and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm anxiously waiting for the second addition to the series. While the writing style and plot may be a little tedious and different than what most of Ms. Liu's readers would expect, I very much enjoyed the book. I recommend you at least give it a shot and see how you feel about it.