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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
Faline Frey is a bounty hunter and a huldra. Her kind, as well as the succubi, rusalki, mermaids, and harpies are known as Wild Women, mythological beings that live among us under the rule of their self-proclaimed guardians—the Hunters. This is how it has been for centuries, since the time the Hunters saved the Wild Women from destroying themselves through their bitter rivalries. When Faline’s sister, Shawna, is abducted, Faline is certain it’s the work of the succubi. The Hunters refuse to help Faline find Shawna and she can’t approach the police. Faline has no choice but to leave her region without Hunter permission to seek out the succubi in Oregon. The further Faline gets from home, the deeper and more shocking the secrets she discovers.
A promising debut from Rachel Pudelek, Freyja’s Daughter is an immersive urban fantasy novel with a satisfying feminist theme. Pudelek’s use of the Hunters as a metaphor for the patriarchy is effective while still being subtle. The huldra, rusalki, harpies, mermaids, and succubi have enough differences in customs and culture to remain distinct from each other and yet there remains a strong sense of sisterhood between the groups. Pudelek invokes a believable representation of these mythological beings in a modern setting, and provides a contextually realistic interpretation of the lore surrounding them. Faline is a likeable, confident character with a well-rounded personality. Minor conflicts and tensions interplay with the main plot to lead the reader to a thrilling denouement. Freyja’s Daughter is a rare treat for urban fantasy fans.