“The dead lie beyond any struggle, so we living must struggle for them. 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. Let this wheel stop. Let us not forget this time. Let us remember.”
From, Kate Quinn, the author who brought us the bestselling novel, The Alice Network, comes another novel packed full of adventure and World War II history. The Huntress follows a WWII-haunted English journalist, Ian Graham, and a fierce Russian fighter pilot, Nina Markova, as they team up together to bring down a ruthless Nazi war criminal who has gone missing since the end of the war.
Nina grew up in an isolated Russian village that spent most of its days in frigid temperatures. The only family that she had was her father, a brutal man, who often drank himself into a stupor. Nina dreamed of running away from the village but she didn’t know where she would want to go. It wasn’t until she came across a stalled out plane that she realized she wanted to be in the sky. Leaving behind everything she’s ever known, she takes a risk and ventures out to make her mark on the world. Combining forces with other equally fierce women, Nina becomes a member of the elusive Night Witches, a group of female pilots who spent their nights bombing Nazis. One night, after years of service, Nina’s plane is downed and she is stranded in the forest. As luck would have it, she makes a friend who would, one day, lead her to Ian Graham.
Ian Graham is a British war correspondent who watched, from the sidelines, as the war took its toll on the people and places around him. He was left feeling bitter and angry but also suffering from nightmares that make it difficult for him to forget what the war took from his life. Ian abandons his career as a journalist and makes it his mission to bring down the Nazi war criminals who are in hiding after the war. However, the Nazi criminal who matters the most to Ian, he can’t seem to track down. This is when he and Nina team up to locate die Jägerin.
On the other side of the ocean, Jordan McBride is a seventeen year old woman growing up in post WWII, with aspirations of becoming a photographer and traveling the world. Her mother passes away, leaving Jordan and her father devastated by their loss. Jordan often worries about leaving her father behind and pursuing journalism so when he brings home a soft-spoken German woman, and her daughter, Jordan is thrilled that her father has found someone. However, as the years progress, she begins to notice some oddities about her step-mother. Jordan can’t quite figure out what her story is and what secrets she is trying to keep hidden.
Last year when I read, the Alice Network I was blown away by Quinn’s ability to weave together such an action packed tale. I was anticipating that her new book would be great but didn’t think it would leave me in awe quite like the Alice Network did. I was wrong.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn was a masterfully told story that wove together fascinating WWII historical facts and a story line that I couldn’t put down. I had no idea about the Night Witches and just how vital they were to the Russia’s efforts during the war. As I was reading along with the novel, I was also researching to learn more about who these female pilots were. Quinn loosely based die Jägerin off of two real-life female Nazi war criminals, Hermine Braunsteiner and Erna Petri (she makes mention of them in her Author’s Note at the end of the novel).
While I have to admit that there were some parts of the story that I found difficult to read it was mainly because it was dense with German sentences or war references. But, I have to appreciate how much research Kate Quinn had to have done for this novel. I felt like I sat through a lesson in history that wasn’t offered to me in school. Quinn is incredibly knowledgeable and can write a story that makes you feel you are living it right beside the characters.
The Huntress has mystery, thrill, history and a love story all mixed in to its 530 pages and I highly recommend picking it up to read. I loved every bit of this novel and am anxiously looking forward to what Kate Quinn comes up with next.