The Huntress by Kate Quinn

‘What about the Huntress? She vanished at the war’s end.’

The story moves between three characters: Jordan McBride, a young woman in post-World War II America who dreams of being a photographer; Nina Markova, a young woman from Siberia who joins the infamous Night Witches, an all-female flying squadron in the USSR; and British journalist Ian Graham who has become a Nazi hunter. Ian has a particular target: a woman known as the Huntress, who murdered his brother Seb.

This is a complex story which unfolds over three different time periods. Ian and his team track the Huntress to the USA, but have difficulty making the final connections necessary to identify and locate her. Meanwhile, the tension is building. We know that the Huntress will stop at nothing to cover her tracks, and other lives are at risk. Jordan is trying to find her place in a changing world, while looking out for her stepsister, Ruth. But the central character for me, the one who brings the story to life, is Nina Markova.

Until I read this novel, I had not heard of the Night Witches and knew nothing about the female fighter and bomber pilots of the USSR during World War II. Now, of course, I want to know more about them.

But back to the novel. I picked it up on the recommendation of friends and read it during the course of one day. The story held my attention from beginning to end.  This is the first novel I have read by Ms Quinn, but it will not be the last.

‘Cowardice doesn’t exist, you know. Nor does bravery. Only nature. If you’re the hunter, you stalk and if you’re the prey, you run…’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith