City of Night and Hunter’s Death by Michelle West
Though written 14 years apart, these novels are so intrinsically interwoven that I had to review them together since the newer novel caused me to race to the basement as soon as City of Night was done to pull the older one from my bookshelf. Rereading the overlap original tale in Hunter’s Death was all the more satisfying because of all the new details that City of Night provided.
I first stumbled across the amazing tales of Averlaan and Breodanir when I discovered Michelle West’s The Sacred Hunt duology back in the late 1990s. I loved the poignant characters of Stephen and his Hunter Lord Elseth. I was also fascinated by a young female character in Hunter’s Death named Jewel Markess, a seer urchin who protects her den of fellow orphans and ends up playing a key role in how the story unfolds.
City of Night is the second book in The House War saga that details events in Averlaan before and during the plot lines that take place in the Sacred Hunt duology. It provides a much deeper look into the complex fantasy world that West created over 16 years ago and provides much better insight into how and why her characters reacted as they did in the original story. So rich and satisfying is this unfolding of plot and multiple narrative that it makes both the challenges, defeats and triumphs faced even more powerful. You care far more for some of the people she brings to life with her words this time round because you have come to know them so much better… and it hurts to lose them even more keenly as well.
Dark forces are brewing in the City of Averlaan. Noble houses are being infiltrated and corrupted by unseen forces and those who have begun to suspect what is truly going on cannot reveal it to the powers that be without putting everything at risk. Magic, mayhem and intrigue bring the unlikeliest of characters together with intricate plot twists and gripping action that keep you turning the pages well after you should have put the light out and gone to bed.
Very few authors can take you on a journey back into the same story so successfully without it feeling as if they are just churning out a byproduct of an earlier triumph. It is a tribute to Michelle West’s incredibly descriptive style and deft way of creating characters that act believably and heroically in their rich settings that this newer visit to a past creation just leaves the readers asking for more… more…. MORE!
Luckily, there are 3 more novels in the House War saga that I can now add to my “Must Find” list!
City of Night: Hardcover format, 467 pages, published in 2010 by Daw
Hunter’s Death: Paperback format, 670 pages, published in 1996 by Daw