His entire life, Nikyo has been both a disappointment to his mother and her pawn. Forced into her shadow as she rules as regent, Nikyo endures her belittling criticism and yearns for real affection. As he turns 18, a great feast is held that allows his mother to preen and accept praise from her sycophants. But a deal was struck before Nikyo’s birth and now the truth will be revealed. Nikyo is visited by his aunt and her half wolf/half fae sons and, in a moment of reckoning, Nikyo’s beauty is revealed, after previously being hidden by his mother’s magic. Her extreme vanity under threat, Nikyo’s mother lashes out and so begins the unraveling of his world.
Forced on the run with his aunt and her sons, Nikyo comes into his own for the first time. He draws close to Asher, his aunt’s eldest, and even though circumstance separates them, it’s clear Asher and Nikyo are destined mates. With danger threatening their fragile bond, Asher and Nikyo must find a way to survive if they want a chance at happiness.
Huntsman’s Moon is another in Fiona Lawless’ Flawless Fairy Tales series. These don’t need to be read in any particular order and, as you might guess, each offers a retelling of a well known fairy tale. I reviewed Ember’s Moon and enjoyed it quite a bit, so I was looking forward to this latest installment. Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with either of the main characters and never fully engaged with the story.
I do want to start by saying that I’m not exactly sure why I struggled with Huntsman’s Moon and I think plenty of readers will find it as strong as the rest of the series. I actually sat on this review for a few days to see if I could figure out what the issue was and ultimately it came down to the relationship between Nikyo and Asher feeling rushed and harried. Part of that stems from the instalove aspect; this particular trope doesn’t tend to lean too heavily on romance, but here it seemed even more lacking. Nikyo and Asher communicate like men who want to be in a couple, who want a slow blossoming romance. Yet biology prevents that and, as a result, I never believed in the “truth” of their couplehood.
Also, the event that separates Asher and Nikyo leans heavily into contrivance and not enough on bolstering the characters or the overall plot. So everything sets on the surface without reading as particularly deep or developed. I think that Asher and Nikyo actually have a lot to offer, but we don’t see much of it.
At the end of the day, Huntsman’s Moon didn’t really work for me. I think the basic premise is there and I appreciate this author taking rather tired fairy tales and putting a new spin on them. And I have enjoyed other books in the series, so I know all the ingredients are here. But certain aspects of the plot read as too contrived and the instalove trope ended up drowning out any actual romance. Despite these issues, I’m looking forward to other works by this author and indeed in other installments of the series.