Book Review: The Huntress by Kate Quinn

A tense, suspense-filled thrilling historical fiction about a multi-national team of Nazi hunters in the 1950s coming together and going on a transatlantic quest to find and bring to trial a woman, referred to as ‘die Jagerin’ meaning ‘The Huntress’. She is a woman who has committed unspeakable crimes, including the murder of children.
Ian Graham a battle-weary jaded British war correspondent and a stickler for the lawful process, Nina Markova a bold and reckless razor toting Russian woman with disregard for the legal process in pursuit of justice, and Tony Rodomovsky a former American soldier of Polish origin, form the team of tenacious Nazi hunters.
Nina, who is a former member of the first-ever squad of women fighters in the Russian army, has been shaped into her current tough, gritty and wild self by a brutal childhood and her later experiences. The three of them have personal and poignant backstories that fuel their purpose as they combine forces and seek out the huntress, who has gone to ground in the USA under a new identity.
On a parallel track, the story of Jordan a teenager and aspiring photographer unfolds, as she and her widowed father living in a town in USA, unwittingly welcome into their lives a widow named Annelise and her traumatized child Ruth. Jordan happens to be an inquisitive teenager and a keen observer with an eye for detail as much as she tends to question herself and reflect on her own inner motives. She promptly picks up on her stepmother’s facial expressions, unnaturally quick reflexes, and certain actions that go unnoticed by others including her father. Even as her disturbing suspicions and unease about the origins and true intentions of her stepmother grow, she involuntarily finds a kindred spirit in her stepmother that supports Jordan’s independent spirit. This leads to an inner-conflict about her assessment of her stepmother. It drives her to bond with Annelise at a certain level; ironically all the more after being beset by a terrible tragedy. 
Each character is etched sharply with realistic and believable contours, the non-linear narrative that weaves across timelines is gripping and the pace is taut and edgy making it a compelling read.
As the stories and characters intersect, it creates a stunning contrast and juxtaposition of their vastly different backgrounds, ideologies, scarred pasts, and common threads driving them on a thrilling chase of the murderess who is sheer evil personified. The character of the huntress is unveiled through the eyes of the other characters impacted directly or indirectly by her, in conjunction with her justification of her ruthless actions backed by nonchalant explanations. Thus the intentions, predatorial instincts, and the ominous essence of the huntress are laid bare, in a deceptively neutral narrative tone that highlights her sinister and unpredictably deadly traits.
The novel is strategically and artistically interlaced with the theme of the Rusalka the water spirit from Russian folklore, as it pitches two characters from opposite ends of the spectrum of evil and justice, culminating in the final confrontation that is dramatic and stunning.
While the romance between Jordan and Tony is lively and refreshing, the romantic connects between the other characters in the novel seemed to have been added as an afterthought and didn’t quite fit in and seemed rather unnecessary and forced. 
Though the novel is fictional, it has blended in historical facts, as detailed in the Author’s Note. The character of the villainess is drawn based on a combination of a female camp guard named Hermine Braunsteiner, and an SS officer’s wife named Erna Petri and there truly was a female Soviet bomber regiment, referred to as night witches by the Germans.
The novel in its breadth, depth and span reminded me of historical spy and post WWII fiction from the late 20th century.
It is a recommended read with a rating of four out of five stars in my opinion.
Some excerpts from the book that lingered –
“Building a generation is like building a wall – one good, well-made brick at a time, one good, well-made child at a time. Enough good bricks, you have a good wall. Enough good children, you have a generation that won’t start a world enveloping war.”
“We must remember, because there are other wheels that turn besides the wheel of justice. Time is a wheel, vast and indifferent, and when time rolls on and men forget, we face the risk of circling back. We slouch yawning to a new horizon and find ourselves gazing at old hatreds seeded and watered by forgetfulness and flowering into new wars. New massacres. New monsters like die Jagerin. Let this wheel stop. Let us not forget this time. Let us remember.”
“Who cares? It was war. Day was night. Life was death. Sorrow was joy. Who cared about anything but the now?”

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