Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Berkeley on September 26, 2017
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Chicagoland Vampires Novels–the hunter becomes the hunted in a New Orleans devastated by a Paranormal war….
When bounty hunter Liam Quinn discovered that Claire Connolly was a Sensitive and infected with magic, he should have turned her in to be locked up in the prison district known as Devil’s Isle. Instead, he helped her learn to control her power and introduced her to an underground group of Paranormals and humans who know the truth about the war and those who fought it.
Now the weight of Liam’s own secrets has forced him into hiding. When a government agent is killed and Claire discovers that Liam is the prime suspect, she races to find him before the government can. But she’ll discover proving his innocence is no simple matter. Their enemies are drawing closer, and time is running out…
With THE HUNT, Chloe Neill takes us back into the near-future warzone of New Orleans after a conflict between Paranormals and humans almost destroyed them both. This series has intriguing world building and an atmospheric Southern setting, but throughout the series I’ve struggled to connect with the characters; I’m sad to say that issue persists in THE HUNT, and I found both the character development and the plot somewhat agonizing.
After Paras came through the veil separating their world from ours, society has completely shifted. The Southern United States are functionally run as a police state, with a military branch known as Containment running the show. Containment works to keep order and facilitate access to scarce resources…but they’re also responsible for imprisoning Paras in Devil’s Isle, a prison city at the heart of New Orleans. Containment’s anti-magic agenda also extends to Sensitives, humans whose continued exposure to the magical fallout from the war has resulted in the development of magics of their own. Devil’s Isle, the Southern feel, and the complexities (moral and logistical) of Containment have always been my favourite parts of this series; seeing them through the eyes of protagonist Claire Connolly, Sensitive and friend to Paras, is compelling, particularly her reflections on the treatment of magic users.
Claire and the gang venture away from New Orleans in THE HUNT, journeying into the Bayou to track down a friend who’s gone missing…and stands accused of murdering a Containment agent. Although I did miss the glimpses into NOLA and Devil’s Isle, it was fun reading about how people have drifted off the grid and made new lives for themselves out in the swamps. From trapping fish and shooting gators to sharing generators between families to ensure everyone has power, the setting is rich with detail and adds a lot to the subsistence culture of life after the war. It was also nice to see the typical character pairings shaken up a bit, as Claire spends most of her time with bounty-hunter Gavin Quinn and Para general Malachi rather than her typical partner in crime, Liam. It’s always interesting to see how different characters play off one another!
Unfortunately, this shakeup wasn’t enough to add interest to the story for me. Almost nothing of note happens in the first 60% of THE HUNT, and I find myself growing increasingly bored with “travel from point A to point B” story lines. I also think the personalities of our main cast are pretty bland and their relationships unremarkable. I know that I’m supposed to feel gutted about the relationship drama between Claire and her maybe-boyfriend Liam, but honestly I don’t really care for either of them. Claire is kind but tough, and she’s got a good head on her shoulders, but she doesn’t have that X-factor that sets her apart from any other likable protagonist. As for Liam, I find his broody attitude and macho behaviour absolutely insufferable. Your mileage may vary though, since I know that many readers love Claire and Liam — and their relationship. Thankfully the secondary characters are more interesting, and both Malachi and the Para computer-hacker Moses are intriguing and funny.
Readers who’re looking for darker, more serious urban fantasy may find success with the Devil’s Isle series…and of course anyone who likes a story set in NOLA should give it a try. After reading THE HUNT, I’m convinced that the tone and style of the series isn’t a good match for my reading preferences, and I won’t be continuing with the series.