Published 2008 329 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Deceit and fear are brewing on the nightside…
An ancient terror is preparing to rip through the city of Santa Luz. But Jill will have to follow its trail of evil to the source before acting, and this will take time. It will also cost lives, as prostitutes start showing up murdered and eviscerated.
And beneath the fast adrenaline of the hunt, there runs a cold purpose. Someone wants Jill worse than dead. And if their invocations open the darkness of Hell itself to accept her, then so be it. Sometimes, even when you’re Jill Kismet, you just don’t have a prayer…
Hunter’s Prayer is Lilith Saintcrow’s second offering in her new Jill Kismet (Nightside) urban fantasy series. Each novel in this series so far is a stand alone story and while you could jump straight into this series with Hunter’s Prayer and not be too confused about past events I’d still recommend reading Night Shift first, not least because it is a great story. There is also a glossary, printed at the back of the book, which explains the basic meaning of various words and terms used in the story that can help readers sort out their Banefire from their Black Mist…
Events in Hunter’s Prayer take place a couple of years after the events of Night Shift. Jill is now partnered with Saul, the were-cougar that she worked with in Night Shift. He is her lover, as well as her back up – although he is definitely her sidekick, the Robin to her Batman, rather than an equal hunting partner. Their relationship is strange, both are alpha personalities but Jill is more alpha Saul, meaning that she is firmly in charge of the show.
As the story progresses it becomes apparent that Jill’s preference to hunt alone, playing her cards close to her chest and not sharing the danger with the people who are supposed to back her up, may have not only been a bad decision but one with possibly fatal consequences.
Lilith Saintcrow often populates her novels with strong alpha characters that are deeply broken in some way. Jill Kismet is no different and as Perry (the demon Jill traded with for power) gets into her head and pushes all of her buttons we catch glimpses of the insecure scared girl Jill once was. The mixture of vulnerability and strength is well balanced and (unlike Dante Valentine) at no point does the character’s insecurities take over the story. However, as Jill’s ugly past reaches up to swallow her she needs to concentrate on the present because the creature that is butchering prostitutes is now be on her trail and the hunter soon becomes the hunted.
Saul is Jill’s romantic interest and makes an intriguing character since he is obviously a strong alpha were-cougar in his own right yet he always defers to Jill wishes. His domestic nature, taking care of the home chores while Jill concentrates on the demon hunting, further emphasises his subservience to her. (Yes, I know – a good looking man who cooks AND cleans, we’re definitely in the realms of fantasy now!)
In Night Side, Jill’s character initially irritated me with her complete conformance to Urban Fantasy Strong Alpha Heroine (UFSAH) syndrome. A UFSAH syndrome sufferer is best recognised for their swaggering and hard drinking, and ability to attract any man (even non-human males) at 500 paces. Rushing to rescue innocents from bad guys without an adequate plan (and no, sarcasming your opponent to death isn’t a plan) is another sign. A penchant for leather trousers and strong belief that nobody else is capable of doing their job (whether it’s a self-appointed mission, a sacred duty or a government funded position) usually confirms that there is little hope for the sufferer. UFSAH irritations have been avoided in Hunter’s Prayer (Jill still does a lot of those things but her actions are tempered by her vulnerability) and Jill’s character seems more engaging as result.
Alas, there are still no vampires in Hunter’s Prayer but with demons, hairy-scary monsters, mad priestesses and bloodthirsty Elder Gods, fantasy fans have plenty to keep them entertained and no cause for complaint. This fast paced page turner has a twisting, complex plot that is driven forward at a rapid pace by its twisted, complex characters. Literally unputdownable, I devoured this book in one sitting and personally can’t wait for more.
Hunter’s Prayer is dark, dark fantasy at its best and (in my opinion) perhaps Lilith Saintcrow’s best book yet.
Rated at 4.5 out of 5 - it loses half a star for the lack of vampires but is otherwise near perfect dark fantasy.
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