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Book Review: The Night Hunt by Alexandra Christo

Book Review: The Night Hunt by Alexandra Christo

If there’s one thing that Alexandra Christo – author of the Hundred Kingdoms and Into the Crooked Place books – writes really well, it’s a loveable motley group of characters thrown together for a common cause. And that’s certainly true for her latest immersive romantasy, The Night Hunt, which pits vengeful Gods against an unlikely team-up of monsters and humans. In this novel, the endearing quartet of reluctant heroes consists of a lonely monster, a disgruntled messenger to the Gods, a shunned half-banshee and a curious scholar, who must band together to break a curse and bring down the Gods bent on killing them.

Atia is an immortal who feeds on the terror and nightmares of others – an irony given she’s spent most of her life living in fear. As the last of her kind, she hides in the shadows, avoiding the wrath of the Gods who killed her parents and sent her fleeing for her life. But when she breaks a sacred law by unintentionally killing a man, the Gods send one of their Heralds to curse her. Silas might be the one sent to punish Atia, but seeing an opportunity to free himself from the hold the Gods have over him, he offers her an irresistible deal. He’ll help Atia break her curse and get retribution for her parents, and in return she must help him break his own curse and restore his humanity.

Joining forces with Tristan, a cheerful scholar who wants to learn more about the monsters he’s only ever read about in books, and Cillian, a soft-hearted half-banshee cast out by his vicious family, Atia and Silas must complete a series of tasks. First they must kill three powerful creatures: a vampire, a banshee and one of the very Gods who wrecked their lives and shackled them to their lonely existences. In order to break her curse, Atia must also drink water from the River of Eternity, a mission that will take them straight into the land of the all-powerful Gods. They might begin as enemies, but only together can Atia and Silas rewrite their destinies. And for that to happen, they’ll need to learn to trust each other, and fast.

Heralds don’t usually make a habit of helping monsters break the rules, especially when those monsters have been damned by the Gods. But damnation is what Atia and I have in common. She has been stripped of her monstrousness and I have been stripped of my humanity. I know that we’d both like back all the things the Gods have taken from us. This is our chance.

From the very opening chapters, The Night Hunt sets itself up as a dark and vengeful Greek mythology inspired YA fantasy full of bloodthirsty monsters, conflicted loyalties and death-defying quests. Switching between Atia’s and Silas’ perspectives, Christo presents readers with a monster who should be bad and a Herald who should be good, but as with all the best stories, these characters are so much more than they initially seem. Even before she’s cursed, Atia is more human than monster, and Silas is more of a rule breaker than his stuffy fellow messengers. They could be called morally grey but there’s never really a question as to whether they have kind hearts. Their present actions speak more for their character than their past misdeeds, and the loyalty these enemies-turned-allies show for each other will have you cheering on their victories and commiserating their losses every step of the way.

Christo’s action is fast-paced, the dialogue sharp and the plot twists cleverly woven, but the book does feel somewhat rushed, with the romance hurried along to add an emotional tension that doesn’t feel entirely earned. The shift in Atia and Silas’ relationship is instrumental in pushing the plot forward but that’s exactly what it feels like: a plot device rather than a natural progression as they get to know each other. The Night Hunt is a novel that genuinely flies past thanks to Christo’s succinct writing, fun banter and engaging action driven chapters. But this is a book that could have lingered on certain moments to ramp up the emotional involvement. Whilst the overall story might lack a certain romantic depth, it speaks to Christo’s talent as a writer that readers could happily spend many more chapters in this world with these damaged yet loveable characters. It’s almost a pity that it’s a standalone.

Vengeance, redemption and the nature of good vs evil are integral themes to The Night Hunt, but it’s the theme of found family that shines the brightest. Our motley foursome fall into an early natural rhythm of friendship and the easy acceptance they have of each other’s faults and foibles is genuinely heartening to read. There’s no judgement, no expectations. It’s ultimately the sense of friendship, rather than the romance, which makes this book such a comforting fantasy read. There’s plenty of darkness and monstrousness lurking across the pages but it’s the tender, more human elements of the tale – the rapport, the loyalty, the courage – that will stay with you.

If you’re craving a quick and entertaining tale of Gods and monsters, with a dash of humour and a consoling dose of found family adventure, you can’t go wrong with this book from one of YA fantasy fiction’s most exciting authors.


The Night Hunt was published by Hot Key Books on 10 October 2023

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