Once upon a time there was a noble huntress who fell for an evil queen…
For fans of Hunted by Meagan Spooner and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao comes a gender-bent fantasy tale inspired by Snow White and the Huntsman…
Once a huntress blessed by the gods, Zahria has since become a murderer without honor. She loses herself in wineskins, paying a private penance for the sins she’s committed in her royal lover’s name. But the kingdom she can’t escape has no use for drunken cowards.
When the queen’s secret menagerie of exotic birds breaks free from the palace, revealing themselves as the reclusive shape-shifting clansmen who dwell within the Unforeseen Forest, the queen demands Zahria do the unthinkable:
Kill the forest-made beasts plaguing the realm, then destroy the cursed forest itself.
A sin, in the eyes of Zahria’s gods, for which there would be no redemption.
But Zahria is weary and has lost too much. All she wants is to return to her homeland after a century of secrets and lies. With a heart long past the point of breaking, fulfilling the queen’s task could mean her freedom at last.
How can Zahria resist such a bargain?
Huntress and the Nightingale is a gorgeous and deliciously dark retelling of the classic fairytale, Snow White. Like all retellings though, it has a few twists. The hunter for instance, is now a huntress named Zahira who is locked in a century long toxic love affair with evil Queen Liana. Our story begins when Zahira encounters a mysterious stranger, and embarks on a quest that leads her to discover exactly how far she’ll go to sever ties with her Queen and find redemption.
Though the whole novella was gorgeously written, my favourite element has to be the role and importance of the forest. I love books with nature themes, and Huntress certainly delivered on that front! It’s also extremely impressive that Luciano was able to put so much world building into less than 120 pages. The author doesn’t just give us a standard fairytale environment, she pulls a whole new one from her imagination.
If I were to criticise the novella, I would say that it can be slightly confusing at times. Like I said, Luciano creates a complex world and a variety of characters in a very small number of pages. There were a couple of moments when I found myself struggling to keep track of the characters and plot.
That being said, I definitely enjoyed this novella! Especially the romance storyline. I’d recommend it to fans of darker style fairytale inspired YA like Wintersong or Uprooted.