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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
A Hunter Rises by Sean Clarke is the first book in the Jacob Crestmore trilogy. Jacob has been on his own since he was a child when he managed to escape from an abusive foster home and had to learn how to survive on the streets. Now he is older he's facing new challenges as he discovers a diary that leads him to secrets about his mother and more questions about where he came from. When the truth comes to light, Jacob couldn't have expected the consequences or the journey it would take to find the lost Elemental Key, but this search catches the attention of a dark empire and reveals an unexpected enemy. It's up to Jacob to keep the magic from the wrong people, which sets him on his destined path to become an Elementalist. His scarred past is slowly revealed as the story progresses with him sharing about the abuse he endured and the attitudes projected onto him. He rises above his past and gains something to fight for. As he learns the truth, he finds purpose in his life that gives him the strength to fight for the childhood he lost and for the people of his country.
In A Hunter Rises, Sean Clarke highlights prejudice and abuse through Jacob's story by creating poignant moments in his journey. These moments are seen in how he was kicked out by his best friend's father, the various prejudices such as hating the Antantans and them hating the Dakew and Mixlings. Jacob has suffered several instances of mistreatment, and for being a Mixling. Against this background are also instances of kindness from various characters such as Janmano who gives him a place to sleep and Captain Hudson who helps him help. The most important person on his journey is his best friend Orla who stays with him from the beginning and through the war to reclaim the country. The story weaves in Gunnar Veto who is also searching for the Elemental Key and the Chamber of Elements while playing an important role in Jacob's past. The world is filled with various fantastical elementals, including creatures such as Rochana the Gudhopper, a group of mercenaries called the Red Ghosts, the Domdan Treasure, Pulse-Bombers, and revolutionaries. These elements are blended into the larger plot of war for the Elemental Key and the sudden responsibility thrust on Jacob when he discovers who he is. Humor is subtly woven throughout such as Jacob being strapped to Rochana to travel, and the characters' personalities. A Hunter Rises is a coming-of-age journey about the strength to save a country with elements of war, magic, prejudice, and self-discovery.