Huntsmen by Michelle Osgood (April 13, 2017); 218 pages. Available from Interlude Press here:
Hunstmen is the sequel to Osgood’s 2016 novel The Better to Kiss You With. Still here are Deanna and Jaime (the stars of the first novel) and all the orbital characters that came with them, but focus has shifted to tell the story of Kiara, who must find a way to come into her own power as pack leader, keep everyone safe and figure out how to be around her former love, Ryn. You might say it’s a novel about figuring out how(l) to fix a problem.
(I guess you’d only say that if you were a pun-loving doofus like me.)
So, in case you’ve not read the first book in the series, let me catch you up right quick: there are werewolves among us, and they even have their own governing organization (GNAAW, which makes me chuckle every time). Most people don’t even know, and werewolves themselves tend to lie low so word doesn’t get out; however, there are some people—they call themselves the Huntsmen—who think werewolves are a threat to non-werewolf people, especially those werewolves without a pack and thus without allegiance to GNAAW, and so feel no compunction about hunting those werewolves down and taking them out. Kiara is a werewolf, as are some—but not all—of her friends. She lives on the DL usually, but her father’s the leader of the large, successful pack to which she belongs, and she’s been tapped to be next. All she has to do is lie low, tow the line (I know some people say “toe,” but that makes no sense to me), and she’ll eventually be promoted to lead the big pack. But when she chances to see her former love Ryn starring in a local drag show (yes, drag isn’t limited to men impersonating women, despite what RuPaul’s Drag Race would have most of America believe… and here is where my long years as a professor force me to recommend the 2002 documentary Venus Boyz) and finds out Ryn’s the target of the Huntsmen because she’s a “lone wolf,” that plan goes to pot. Kiara steps up to protect her friends (and herself) and upsets the intended order.
Like the first book in the series, Huntsmen is a fun thriller with interesting characters and smart pacing. Also like the first book in the series, Huntsmen features an intelligent, powerful woman at its center. (It’s so rare, as a woman reader/viewer, to get main characters one would like to emulate, at least ones who aren’t punished at the end of the book/movie.) And this thriller delivers: so often, books and films are able to mount the tension, but aren’t able to resolve it in a believable and satisfying way. Not so here—there’s family drama, identity drama, love angst, and the general fear of being stalked, and the novel winds all this tighter and tighter, but, in the end, gives one a really good ending. You might say there’s as much bite as bark.
You know, if you were a pun-loving doofus like me.