Book Review

The Hunter by Theresa Meyers - A Guest Review by CarrieS

B-

Title: The Hunter
Author: Theresa Meyers
Publication Info: Zebra 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4201-2124-7
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Guy with a duster, hat, and a blue ray gun! And a horse. Made of watch parts.

Back in August, this lovely author, Theresa Meyers, sent an email to Smart Bitch Sarah asking if I (Me! CarrieS!) would review her latest book, The Hunter.  Well.  As Paula Deen once said, that just knocked my socks clean off and into the washer.  I feel I have Arrived.  Now that authors (or, at least, an author) are requesting me (me!) personally, I'm sure the New Yorker will be calling any minute.  I'm waiting by the phone, New Yorker!  Call me!

Anyway, there I was, flattered right out of my mind, when I realized that this was actually a disaster, because for the first time I knew in advance that an author was going to read my review.  What if poor, nice, trusting Theresa sent me the book and I hated it?  What if I had to say, “In all honesty, Theresa, reading your book is akin to having my toenails pulled out by angry monkeys?” Would I be able to keep my journalistic objectivity under this kind of pressure?  

Fear not, Theresa.  Reading The Hunter in no way resembled having my toenails pulled out by angry monkeys.  Alas, neither did it resemble having Daniel Craig feed me spoonfuls of chocolate mousse on the beach.  It had wonderful world-building, grand adventure, and all the steampunk fun you could ask for.  It also had way too much repetition and would have benefited from a much shorter length.  I would recommend it to steampunk fans and I am giving it a B- based purely on the strength of the descriptive passages, even though it dragged like crazy in the middle to such a degree that I lost my interest by the end.

To start with, wow, Theresa can write a description.  The Steampunk-Western atmosphere was just perfect.  You could smell the leather and the sulfur and the sagebrush.  Every detail felt just right, in both quiet passages and action scenes.  Steampunk fans will love the Arizona Ice Mines, the wind-up horse, the shape-shifter who turns into a mountain lion (pretty!), and, oh yeah baby, the zeppelin flown by vampires.  The action scenes are straight out of Indiana Jones, which I mean as a compliment.  Also, special props for having several scenes set in Bodie, a place I've actually been to several times.  I was a bit discomfited by the fact that the hero seems to have no trouble travelling fairly quickly between Bodie, California, and Phoenix, Arizona.  I've driven more or less from the one place to the other, and it seemed to take forever in a car so I'm not convinced you could do it in a few days’ time on horseback, even on a clockwork horse.  Still, since the maximum speed of the horse is never established, and it doesn't require rest, and I'm not an expert on geography, I'm willing to let that slide.

The plot involves Colt (who has brothers named Winchester and Remington) who is a demon hunter.  Colt wants to retrieve a book that his Father compiled and then hid, which contains information that is useful to Hunters (the capital H is not a typo, as it’s his actual title).  There are two other sections of this magic book, each of which will presumably be sought by the other brothers in the rest of the trilogy.  The sections are elaborately hidden and protected by various traps.  Why?  I dunno.  There's some handwaving to explain why the Hunters would make it so difficult and deadly for future Hunters to access world-saving information, but I never bought it.  Colt summons a demon to help him, and she turns out to be a succubus named Lilly.  Lilly being a succubus allows the author to justify all kinds of things that normally drive me bonkers – he can't stop looking at her butt when she wears pants, he can't stop looking at her boobs when she wears dresses, she always smells great and can instantly summon up sexy underwear with her magic powers, they make out in the middle of dangerous situations that I personally would not find conducive to sexy times – you know, she's irresistible.   Meanwhile Lilly is trying to escape from this mega-demon who has clearly been watching the “Saw” movies on his DVD player in Hell, and he (the demon) is also trying to get the Hunters' book. 

The Hunter falters in its pacing and its insistence on telling us what the characters are thinking, even when they are thinking the same thing over and over.  Here's how the story goes.  Colt and Lilly discuss their next move, and they contemplate (to each other) how weird it is for a Hunter and a Demon to be allies, and wonder (to themselves) whether they can trust each other, and decide that they can.  Then there is a kick-ass action sequence.  They clean up, discuss their next move, contemplate (to each other) how weird it is for a Hunter and a Demon to be allies, think (to themselves) that the other person's behavior during the action sequence means they can be trusted, but what if it's all a ruse, oh the heck with it, repeat – and repeat, and repeat.  For half of the book, I was enthralled.  The other half was just as well written as the first half, but I sort of felt like I had already read it, and I (forgive me, Theresa) got kinda bored.  I have to admit that I am usually not thrilled by plots that involve long quests for macguffins, so maybe this plot would be a greater hit with other readers. 

In short, The Hunter would be a great book if it were cut ruthlessly in half – yes, even if that meant we lost the vampire zeppelin.  I'm giving this book a B- because for the first half or so I thought it was Made of Win and worth an A, but by the end I was just sort of hoping it would be over so I could move on from the endless search for the macguffin that, frankly, was sort of silly to start with.  That loss of interest would usually cause me to grade a book no higher than a C, but the atmosphere is so well drawn that I figured I'd split the difference and call it a B-.  It is possible, indeed probable, that I'm grading a tad generously, since Theresa is watching, but really, the descriptions are absolutely amazing and not to be missed.  And it is just as possible, that readers who don't mind the endless quest plot will love every moment of the book.  This book ends with the relationship stuff nicely resolved (with a nifty twist) but the plot unfinished, leaving it prepared for the rest of the trilogy without being an annoying cliffhanger.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.


This book is available from Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | WORD Brooklyn | AllRomance.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    Wow I don’t know if I should read for the descriptions or pass for the macguffin. Maybe I’ll go have another cup of coffee and give it a think later.

  2. 2
    kkw says:

    I’ve never been any good at sports, in part because I can’t quite convince myself to care about the fate of the inevitable small spherical object.  Real life aside, I love a quest.  Doesn’t matter what they’re after, why, or how long it takes to get it, I’ll read about (or watch) it.  Early childhood conditioning I suppose.  Between the odyssey, king arthur, and indiana jones I didn’t stand a chance.  Actually, I’d always assumed everybody was with me on this one. Seems like 90% of the movies out there involve get the blank – as a subplot at the very least.  Anyway, I don’t mind an endless search.  Unfortunately, steam punk is a deal breaker for me.  And I’m having a hard time maintaining any vampire/demon interest.

  3. 3
    Darlynne Vrechek says:

    Great review, CarrieS. The steampunk world-building works well for me. Thanks.

  4. 4
    harthad says:

    “Alas, neither did it resemble having Daniel Craig feed me spoonfuls of chocolate mousse on the beach.”

    Boy howdy, CarrieS, you completely made my day with that line! I think that will have to become my new description of total awesomeness. Mr. Craig. Chocolate. The beach. So totally there with you. There with you, pushing you ruthlessly out of the way, actually.

  5. 5
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    I actually love books with long quest-y plots, and steampunk is one of my new favorite obsessions. Unfortunately, I’m extremely over vampires (unless Buffy is staking them, or their names are Spike and Angel, or both of the above conditions are met). Nevertheless, I might pick this one up over the winter break, which starts for me on Thursday afternoon (yeah, baby!). On the other hand, my TBR pile currently contains 118 titles, so this one might have to wait for a while.

  6. 6
    Mintysoftlips says:

    This sounds like the show Supernatural…Sam & Dean Winchester are demon/monster hunters.  They own a colt that can kill any demon.  I love me some Sam & Dean Winchester, but this is blatantly copying the show and the author should be ashamed of herself.

  7. 7
    DonnaMarie says:

    Have to laugh as we have a picture of Daniel Craig pasted up next to our time clock. I make little dialogue bubbles for him to pass on messages, and right now he’s wearing a Santa hat.

  8. 8
    DonnaMarie says:

    Cover slut that I am, I’m glad the book itself is on the above average side of the bell curve. Justification.
    We’ll just have to expect that the books improve over time as they do with a lot of authors who write series. After all Theresa Meyers seems willing to accept a critique, be it positive, negative or snarky. Well played Ms. Meyers. Now I’m looking forward to reading “The Hunter” for reasons other than the cover.

  9. 9
    Geekgirl says:

    LOL, risking the wrath of the scariest fans in fandom here but Supernatural was cutting edge and original? (I say was because I stopped watching it when they started spoofing themselves) The first two seasons were practically X-Files episodes.  Demons and the name Winchester don’t make it a ripoff. In the real world Sarah Winchester believed she was haunted by the ghosts of people killed by the rifle, so I hardly think Eric Kripke has the monopoly on spooks and the name.

  10. 10
    CarrieS says:

    I hate to lose all my geek cred, but I’ve never actually seen Supernatural, although I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about it.  From what I’ve heard of the show, the resemblance between show and book is minimal.  The brothers in Hunter usually work solo, not as a team, although they make cameos in each other’s lives.  The book is set in a steampunk version of the Old West, not a supernatural version of present day.  All three brothers are named after guns but using evidence that the Winchesters have a Colt weapon and a character in the book is named Colt does not a rip-off make.  I’d have to rely on the opinions of viewers who have seen Supernatural for more input.  I do think that most steampunk tends to rely on homage – to literary and cinematic, genres, to history, to other steampunk works, etc. 

    Re vampires – there actually aren’t very many in Hunter.  It’s more human/demon focused.  I suspect on of the sequels might be more vampire-y.

  11. 11
    Heather says:

    The author mentions in her bio that she’s a fan of the show, but sadly that ruined it for me. I like steampunk, but I think I prefer it without the supernatural/paranormal aspects to it.

  12. 12
    Theresa Meyers says:

    Yea! I have Internet back again (without for three days) so I can acutally respond!

    First off, THANK YOU CarrieS for the honest review. I couldn’t have asked for more. Frankly, just having my book reviewed on Smart Bitches is a squee-worthy moment of fandom in and of itself since I’ve been following the site for years. (OMG, that’s actually my book up there!) I appreciate you being willing to give it a read and spend the time to write up a review for the bitchery. *graceful curtsey*

    Second, yes, while I love me some Winchester boys, really I came up with this story incuding the brothers names, Winchester, Remington and Colt – all named after their dad’s favorite guns of the time period (Winchester repeating rifles, Remington Arms Manufacturing and Colt Revolvers) as well as the fact that the hunted supernaturals back in 1996. That was years before Supernatural was even a glimmer in some producer’s eye. But at the time, historicals and paranormals weren’t selling, and certainly no one in romanclandia was going to publish a steampunk, so my agent had me tuck it away, where it sat. And waited. And waited. And I moved away from historicals and wrote straight contemporary romances instead for a time. Then switched back into paranormal. Publishing is a long-end game. Sometimes what you see now has been years in the making, but getting it to market can take what seems like forever.

    Now since I’m a X-Files and Dark Angel addict, it’s not surprising I happen to love the shows Supernatural and Grimm as well. Do I feel like Supernatural ripped me off just because I had the idea before the show? No! Synchronicity happens all the time. It’s just part of being creative people that ideas circulate out in the aether and get picked up. You’ll find stories all the time that have similar character names, or situations, but every story is going to be different because of the person that tells it. (And for the record, I’ve NEVER even seen the Saw movies because I don’t watch horror flims, so I think it’s interesting someone saw that in the story too. Again, synchronicity.)

  13. 13
    Anorth621 says:

    Well, regardless of the not 100% positive review, you made a believer out of me. This book sounds right up my alley…I’ll definitely be adding this book to my list! :) Steampunk, world-building, characters who shouldn’t be together but are?! Sounds like the perfect book for me. Thanks for the review!

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