Eye of Heaven

The Iron Hunt

The Red Heart of Jade

Shadow Touch

A Wild Light
by Marjorie M. Liu
(Ace Books, $7.99, PG13) ISBN 978-0-441-01901-4
The third in her Hunter's Kiss series, Marjorie Liu scores with a seriously readable, wonderful tale with A Wild Light.

Maxine Kiss is our funny, likable, strong heroine who manages to be appealing and scary at the same time. Maxine has been battling her generous heart and her own soft nature while trying to come to terms with her inheritance and the teachings of her mother - that she is the newest in the long line of female Kiss hunters, a woman protected by demons who has a very dark presence inside her.

Maxine has managed to fulfill her dream of having a family by banding together a rag tag crew of those who understand and love her. She's feeling in love and content, and it's her birthday. Maxine heads to her Grandfather's house for birthday pie, but wakes up the next morning with his dead body, and blood everywhere.

Worse yet, Maxine has lost her memory and when the members of her adopted family come to help her, she doesn't trust anyone and remembers very little of any of them, including Grant, the man she loves. Maxine is terrified that she might have finally stepped into the dark side of her nature and let it take over, and she's also confused by her past choices. How could she have let someone love her and get close to her, knowing what she is capable of? But it seems that she has already done it, and it worked. Desperate for answers about who she is and wanting to recover her memory, Maxine tentatively decides to trust Grant to help her, to figure out who killed her Grandfather and what she needs to do next, to save herself.

While I haven't read the first two Hunter's Kiss books, I was able to get along with A Wild Light quite well. There were a few moments at the beginning when I was very surprised, both by the drastic turn of events in this unexpected story and by Liu's gorgeous turn of phrase. She manages to turn pages into magic.

Maxine Kiss is one of my favorite heroines of all time. She is imperfect, self-aware, with only a shadow left of the sweet young girl she once was. Maxine had to grow up fast, due to her lineage and responsibilities, but she's managed to retain a good heart, and a reasonable thought process. Despite her mythical surroundings and heavy duties to those around her, Maxine is tough, and easy to believe in.

Grant Cooperon is Maxine's partner, her perfect foil. Grant has a talent for healing, and for making people and other creatures want to be better than what they have been in the past. Liu writes Grant so poetically, and with so much love, that when he uses his talents it's hard not to feel wistful, and hope that a talent like that could really be possible. Grant is easy to love; he's absolutely a dependable, righteous, cautious, loving man despite his obvious misgivings about his talent, and how he uses it. His self-doubt only serves to make him even more appealing.

The only thing that held this book back for me from being a 5-heart review was that the relationship between Maxine and Grant was loosely defined for the first half of the novel. I understand that this was because of Maxine's traumatic memory loss, but it made me feel a little skeptical about their sudden strong bond later in the story. Perhaps their relationship is explored in detail in the earlier Hunter's Kiss novels, which would then make sense, but as a stand-alone book, it jarred me.

Nevertheless, please pick up a copy of A Wild Light, lock yourself away from the world for a few hours and enjoy!

--Amy Wroblewsky

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