It is always hard to write and compare novels about World War II because it’s difficult to ascertain how much fiction is too much fiction and how much fiction will not ruin the truthfulness a historical novel needs to have in order to be genuine and believable. After reading testimonies by real Holocaust survivors about concentration camps, it is really hard to take some novels seriously.
Unfortunately that is the case with The Huntress. It is an overly romanticised, unbelievable, idealised novel, in it anything and everything gets romanticized: war, love, friendship, hardship during and after the war. Including, of course, the American dream ending, because everything is better in America, America makes all the problems just go away: it’s so easy to catch the villain and have a good life.
Everything looks so logical, explainable, explanatory and easy in the end, like there was no problem to begin with.
The war criminal gets caught (in America) and prosecuted thanks to American action, not thanks to incapable European courts but thanks to brave American journalism. The clever and emancipated Jordan discovers the truth and gets it all, the career she longed for and love she hoped for. The delicate and vulnerable yet strong and brave Soviet pilot Nina manages to escape the evil communism to finally settle down in the happiest country on Earth and forget the trauma of her lost love Yelena, and of course, in the end, she, conventionally, picks a man to love. The delicate brother who suffers and dies because of the goodness of his heart and his belief that people are good.
Every and each one of these characters is stereotypical and artificial, living in an ideal make belief world with some evil that can be conquered by honesty and bravery. This novel seems like a fairy tale not like a war themed novel.
With all this being said, the novel is interesting, a smooth read and the constant switching of perspectives forms a dynamical structure. Every chapter is written in somebody else’s perspective: alternating between Nina, Ian and Jordan. If you are looking for an amusing read, go ahead and read it, but if you are interested in something more genuine, look further and maybe take a look at my previous blog post, the wonderful At the Wolf’s Table by Rossela Postorino.