fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Marjorie M Liu Hunter Kiss 1. The Iron Hunt 2. Darkness CallsDarkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu

I loved The Iron Hunt, and was eagerly looking forward to the sequel. (Has it really only been a year?) I’m happy to report that Darkness Calls (2009) is a worthy successor. This time around, Maxine and her boyfriend Grant are being hounded by a mysterious group of religious fanatics and by a horrifically creepy being who introduces himself as “Mr. Erl King,” a name that will probably be familiar to myth-geeks like me. Seriously, this is one icky villain. I’m feeling nauseous right now, just remembering some of his scenes.


Anyway, like The Iron Hunt, Darkness Calls features lots of action, some humor, quirky secondary characters, and plenty of nods to mythology and folklore. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Around the middle of the novel, I got briefly bogged down because I was a little confused about what was going on. Part of this was almost certainly my own fault. I didn’t reread The Iron Hunt before starting Darkness Calls, and I’d forgotten some of the terminology and some of the world-building, which meant I couldn’t always remember who belonged to what supernatural faction and who was trying to kill whom for what reason. Another aspect of the confusion was intentional. Maxine herself doesn’t understand everything that’s going on, especially not at first. The attempts on her and Grant’s lives keep her running and fighting 24/7. When she does have the chance to take a breath and have a deep conversation, the “wise old sage” characters in her life are often more cryptic than helpful.Hunter Kiss by Marjorie Liu

This feeling of confusion passed quickly, though. I was captivated by the events leading up to Maxine’s showdown with the Erl King. The climactic scenes are harrowing and highly emotional. As an added bonus, there are a few more Labyrinth scenes and mystic-vision scenes. These are where Liu’s prose and the epic scope of her imagination really shine.

Another thing that was done really, really well: the romance between Maxine and Grant. In The Iron Hunt, Grant was almost background. Maxine was dealing largely with her own personal demons (real and metaphorical). Here, Grant is an integral part of the plot, and so is the relationship between him and Maxine. Many urban fantasy series focus on the formation of new relationships, or on the dramatic turmoil of relationships in crisis. What Liu depicts is rarer in the genre: a long-term relationship that works. Maxine and Grant face tons of problems, but you get the sense that their love and commitment are a match for whatever comes their way.

Published in 2009. Demon hunter Maxine Kiss, inked with living tattoos, is on a mission to rescue the man she loves from a bloodthirsty army. To save him, Maxine has only one choice: to lose control—and release her own powers of darkness.


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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