Review: “Hunter,” Skyla Dawn Cameron

Rating: 5 out of 5

Skyla Dawn Cameron’s urban fantasy Hunter (Demons of Oblivion) (Volume 2) comes at the world from a different angle than book one, Bloodlines [review]. In that book, the main character was narcissistic vampiric assassin Zara Lain. In this book–which takes place I think a few years after the first–our main character is a very well-armed nun, Sister Ryann David. She’s 19 years old and about to graduate into being an official Hunter for the Venatores Daemonum. Their calling is to kill all demons (vampires count as demons). When one of their own is slaughtered by a vampire, a group including a couple of older Hunters (still under 30 as Hunters rarely survive past 30) and several new graduates is sent to destroy the vampire. Ryann is sent to make contact with a psychic named Ellie Rhys, who turns out to be a drunkard and a flirt who enjoys nettling Ryann. The vampire the group is going up against is incredibly dangerous, leaving many questions unanswered. Why has a group of mostly-new-graduates been sent after her? Why doesn’t she just kill them all when she encounters them? And why is Ryann, who’s only trying to do the right thing, becoming more and more ostracized by her peers?

I love Ryann as a character. She’s the polar opposite of Zara: empathetic, caring, thoughtful, and she doesn’t swear. She hasn’t really been in the outside world apart from an occasional grocery trip since she was a baby, when she was taken in by an orphanage from which the Venatores Daemonum recruit. She’s been told that her mother didn’t know who her father was and didn’t want to keep her. Her entire family is her fellow Hunters, but she doesn’t entirely fit in. She has a crush on her mentor, Christian, but then so does everybody, and anyway he’s together with fellow Hunter Grace even though that’s forbidden. She’s at odds with an older Hunter who’s leading this mission because, well, because he’s an asshole, honestly. Her friend Rebecca seems to be kind of a fair-weather friend at best. And Father Matthew seems to have something against her.

By trying to help Christian with something she gets on the bad side of her mission leader, who’s looking for any excuse to torpedo her career (which is also her life). She meets some good people–Ellie’s partners in the psychic detective business–who are kind to her.

There are plenty of fights–it doesn’t take long before Ryann runs into her first vampire. The vampires are stronger and faster, but Ryann has been trained all of her life to do just this. So even though she has problems and often needs help from her team, she still kicks ass. Zara does make an appearance in this one, and this clearly takes place after the end of book one but less than 10 years later (you’ll understand what that signifies if you’ve read the entirety of book one). Obviously any book in which she shows up is going to have a body count.

The pacing is on point, the characters are wonderful, there are more hints about some big event to come, and Zara calls Ryann “Buffy.” You can’t go wrong!

And though we did indeed serve God, our purpose was to purge the world of evil, not in spirit and mind alone, but in a body and with weapons.
Lots of weapons.

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