Review | Horns of the Hunter – Frank Dorrian

About the Book

An age of myth. A bitter feud. A storm of legend.

It is the closing days of the Enkindled King’s wars for Earthblood, when a cycle of violence and hatred sparks a bitter feud in his shadow.

Náith, the Warrior. Luw, the Hunter. Cast aside and burned by their lover’s betrayal, the two find themselves trapped in a bloody struggle for the affections of Síle, the Maid of Mael Tulla.

Cherished as a healer and bringer of verdant life to barren lands, Síle stands as a mystery unto all – even those who would claim her heart. For one so gentle and kind, secrets and bloodshed swarm about her like flies upon a corpse.

Consumed by hatred and heartache, both Náith and Luw will take the darkest of trials and challenge death itself, unaware of the true game being played.

A storm beyond imagining waits for the Warrior and the Hunter. One that will decide the fate of Luah Fáil.

204 pages (kindle)
Publishing on July 27, 2021
Pre-order here

Horns of the Hunter was a book I knew I wanted to edit the second I saw it. It’s based on Celtic mythology, and written with lyrical prose. The two things put together basically just make this one of those books I’m sure to love. I’m a huge, huge sucker for mythology retold, and beautiful prose is icing on the cake. 

Most of this story is focused on Cu Náith the Warrior and Luw the Hunter. Cu Náith and Luw are the biggest focal points of this story, and they couldn’t be more opposite. Cu Náith is arrogant and swaggering. He knows he’s the best, and he usually is. He has a supernatural affinity for all things that require physical strength, and his ego basically makes up the biggest part of his personality. Luw the Hunter, on the other hand, is much more quiet and reserved. He’s thoughtful, and while he is focused on his end goals, he is motivated largely by preserving the forests, and doing what needs to be done to ensure that end. 

The other main character in this book is Síle. Síle is a romantic interest for both of these men. What starts out as a squabble between two spurned lovers turns into something a bit more serious as Síle starts poking fingers in the conflict between the men. As the book unfolds, it becomes clear that Síle is not who she appears to be, and she is using both of these men for her own ends, and these men seem to be dancing to her tune, and oblivious to her end goals, no matter how obvious they become to the reader. This, in fact, is part of why this book was so compelling. The characters are so absorbed in their own experiences, that what slowly becomes clear to the reader isn’t that clear to the characters themselves, and that draws out emotions from the reader that are just… powerful. I mean, it’s like watching a train wreck. You can’t look away. You know what’s going to happen, at least in a vague way, and you can see it barreling toward the event horizon, but you just cannot stop watching. 

It’s that dynamic, that incredible ability for Dorrian to not only play on his readers emotions that skillfully, but his characters as well that, quite honestly, make him a master of the craft. 

I will say, reader, the genius of this book is how the characters work against each other, and how that forces their development in some unexpected ways. 

In fact, the character development over the course of this novel had me so enchanted, so absolutely absorbed and obsessed, I read this book numerous times before I returned it to the author. I just couldn’t get enough of it. I couldn’t stop looking at how Luw and Cu Náith changed so dramatically over the course of the book, and how, while they often did come to physical blows (and some of the battles were just… I mean, surreal with how well they were written), it was really obsession driven by Síle that was the true weapon here. 

I don’t know if I can underscore this enough. The characters you get to know at the start of the book are not the ones you know at the end of the book, and the journey, that transformation is one of the most engrossing, absorbing, well-crafted character arcs I’ve ever read in all my time reading. It blew my freaking socks off. 

Dorrian made a few worldbuilding decisions in this book that I think ultimately worked in his favor. First, he kept the world contained, relegated to one island, and populated by a fair number of people, though most of them stay offscreen. He doesn’t take a lot of time to explain terminology to readers. You either figure it out as you go, or you don’t. This immersive style of worldbuilding really worked for me. It allowed me to get sucked into the story, and I trusted Dorian to give me the information I needed as the story progressed. Furthermore, the complex, layered magic system was really the cherry on top of this worldbuilding sundae. 

The story of Luw and Cu Náith was truly heartbreaking. These two men are on a crash course to destruction, and both seem incapable of pulling away from it. Because you’ll likely recognize these figures from their mythological influences (if you’re familiar with Celtic lore at all) you’ll probably connect with them right away. Despite all their fantastic, divine aspects, their magic, their more-than-human qualities, they are, in the end, shockingly human and as their arcs begin to unfold, and you see which direction they are both traveling, you realize this really isn’t the story you were expecting. This is a story about obsession and self-destruction. It’s about two men who have these superhuman abilities, coming together in a clash that transforms both them, and their world. 

This book, reader, is a glorious, unforgettable tragedy. 

And oh, I loved it. I loved it so much, it hurt. I loved it so much, I read it about four or five times before I managed to send the edited manuscript back to the author. 

There have been a few times in my editorial life when I’ve felt the need to stand on a mountaintop and pontificate to readers everywhere about this book or that book. I will say, Horns of the Hunter was one of those books that made me want to do just that. I’ve never read anything like this before, and that’s part of its charm. The truth is, what I found here was a story I didn’t expect, told with prose that were just beyond gorgeous. This book is a superb study in character evolution that you won’t get anywhere else.

Horns of the Hunter is, hands down, one of the best books I’ve read in a very, very long time. 

It’s one of those books that made me think, “I really wish I could read this book for the first time all over again.” 

It’s that good. 

Trust me.

5/5 stars