Given the subject matter of Kate Quinn’s latest novel The Huntress, it is difficult to use terms like “enjoyment” and “fun” to describe the reading experience. So I will limit myself to saying that it is among the best historical fiction I have read in a long, long time.
The novel opens with a scene at the lakeside in the town of Altausee, Austria in 1945, where a frantic woman ponders her new circumstances. Just a few months earlier she was the mistress of a high SS official, living in an opulent mansion in Poznan, in occupied Poland. As a member of the “master race,” she had the power of life and death over the subjugated people, which she had taken advantage of by killing six Jewish children and a British POW in cold blood. In fact, her reputation for cruelty and superb marksmanship was so strong, she had come to be known as Die Jägerin, the huntress.
But the Nazis lost the war, and now the huntress is on the run, a prey for once. But she will not let herself by captured and brought to justice for deeds she still deems legal and justified. If she can only find a way to get out of Europe . . .
Thus begins a story of four intertwining lives, stretching from the cold shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia, through the Russian front of WWII, to post-war Austria that tries to come to terms with the devastation, and all the way to Boston where an antiques dealer marries a mysterious German war widow who is camera-shy and won’t speak about her past.
In addition to the compelling storylines that center around betrayal, loss, revenge, and redemption, The Huntress is a superbly researched account of the lesser known exploits that contributed to the Allied victory in WWII. In particular, Quinn brings back to life the women of the 46th “Taman” Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment of the Soviet Air Force.
Christened “Night Witches” by the Germans whose frontline positions they relentlessly bombed for three years, they were the first active female military pilots in history. By invoking their contributions, as well as those of photojournalists like Gerda Taro, the author helps shed light on the immense impact women made on the 20th century war efforts and documentation not just behind desks, but in the thick of battle.
The Huntress was the first novel by Kate Quinn I have ever read, and it was so good I am putting The Alice Network on my TBR list right now.
If you enjoy historical fiction, check out The Greenest Branch, my novel based on the life of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician. It is FREE to read on Kindle Unlimited, and available in ebook and paperback on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and several other Amazon marketplaces.