REVIEW: The Hunter’s Kind by Rebecca Levene

In the second book of The Hollow Gods, The Hunter’s Kind, Rebecca Levene continues to surprise her readers with unexpected outcomes as she opens up the familiar world of Smiler’s Fair. The sequel surpasses its predecessor with respect to violence and gruesome detail, but without losing sight of its end goal.

The Hunter's KindThe bulk of The Hunter’s Kind takes place after the events at the end of Smiler’s Fair. The identity of the moon god reborn has been revealed and his father’s armies forge together to hunt him down. Along with his group of misfit allies, he must walk the line of who he is and what he is capable, but most importantly, what he can live with. All roads point to Mirror Town, a mysterious place filled with magic. However, the answers sought come at a cost that might be too high to pay. With everything on the line, how far does one go to win?

As with Smiler’s Fair, Levene’s knack for description is front and center in The Hunter’s Kind. The visual clarity of these sensory details sharpens and amplifies during critical moments of the story, creating an almost painful awareness for the reader. Paired with this imagery is the deeper level of lore and world-building that the book explores. The standout aspect of the novel is how Levene complicates the reader’s perspective of the war. While the first book provides a limited understanding of the factors involved and, subsequently, a loyalty to a side, the sequel forces a reexamination of those truths. In a world where horrible actions are justifiable for a greater good, Levene pushes her characters to their breaking points through morally-questionable choices and in the handling of their fallout.

Where readers might find issues with The Hunter’s Kind come in the form of the narrative. While the book does show the aftereffects of the events from Smiler’s Fair, they are not necessarily told from the character perspectives from the first book. Instead, Levene introduces several new characters at the start of The Hunter’s Kind. While this does work effectively in the overall intention to show the opposing viewpoints and complicate the bigger picture, it might take some time to become invested in the new characters. Levene also follows her trend toward the subversion of familiar tropes that, while executed well, may vary in reader response to the payoff.

The Hunter’s Kind marks its place under the grimdark label through more than just its morally-grey characters, violent encounters, and dark world. Levene’s exploration of choice and the thematic elements surrounding the consequences at stake for those decisions firmly root it in the overall human experience:

“One cannot always know what a person is or will become. One cannot always judge a liver, or a heart, by the body in which it is housed”

The novel shows what happens when you sacrifice pieces of yourself and what you must do to get them back. I’m curious to see how the series will end in the final book, The Sun’s Devices.

Read The Hunter’s Kind by Rebecca Levene

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Angela Gualtieri

Angela Gualtieri is a former technical editor and project manager with a love of reading. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s traveling. You can find her at: https://www.instagram.com/agnovels/