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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Blood of the Hunted by Marc Micciola is a fantasy novel that revolves around the persecution of the Tóráin, the non-human residents of 18th-century Kosavros. A lycan by the name of Weylyn is the leader of The Resistance and the driving force behind a campaign to end the utterly inhumane oppression, torture, and murder of the Tóráin in Kosavros by fanatical humans once and for all. It is an act of war that requires assistance across the continent. Weylyn goes to Tudrose and obtains the backing of Queen Sophia, but she requires that a rise of rebellion must first be implemented before risking her own soldiers for the cause. Weylyn, with the help of a fellow Resistance rebel from Fleuris named Olwen, heads off to the countries of Tulp, Korblum, Stelpina, and Malvene to enlist powerful rebel leadership to accomplish the first stage of a sweeping goal: incite rebellion in the lead-up to an attack from Tudrose, replace bloody regimes with Tóráin allies, and live equally ever after. As the mission progresses it becomes clear that the immediate risk is worse than even the suffering endured before, and, at best, as horrific as what is expected to come. “You have committed many crimes against the Tóráin, and now you must pay for them.”
Blood of the Hunted is an ambitious novel with a lot going for it. Marc Micciola crafts a really diverse cast of characters and fleshes out the landscape, culture, social structure, and the need for an insurgency with skill and enough flourish to bring it to life, but not so much that it destroys the pacing. The world building and character development are enhanced by first-person point of view characters that extend beyond and dig deeper than what Weylyn's limited outlook could achieve on its own. Shifting narratives like this is rarely successful as the voices can become convoluted and the head-hopping can get annoying, but that never happens in Micciola's story. The stand-out character to me was Rosalie who, by virtue of being human, has reason not to work with the Tóráin when even treating one without payment in a hospital marks the end of her freedom. She does so anyway. As a woman she is authentic and strong, as is another fierce ally, Queen Sophia, who literally follows Weylyn with an army at her back. Descriptions of torture can be raw and really punch a reader in the gut, such as the avian race of the Tóráin called harpies being mutilated and cauterized. It's par for the course in a world at war where magic elements, like daggers that invoke decaying flesh, are all in play. This novel takes a strong stomach and some resolve to get through, but please do believe me when I say it is worth every step of the journey. Very highly recommended.