When a monster brutally kills her parents, Ara is saved by two beast hunters. Becoming their apprentice, she discovers serums, secret bestiary knowledge, and remarkable abilities-all to save unsuspecting souls from the same fate her parents suffered. But, terrifying creatures lurk everywhere and Ara must master the art of beast hunting quickly if she is to uncover the elusive beast plaguing the village of Cornstead.
The Beast Hunters is the first book in a dark fantasy saga, written by Christer Lender. I’m really glad to have found this book, and to pick it by the cover, because it hasn’t let me down, being absolutely amazing (I only have one complaint: it’s too short), a novel that I would define as The Witcher meets Sherlock Holmes. There are so many things to love on these pages, to be fair.
This book follows the story of Ara, a 17-years-old girl, who lives with her family, suffering due to the contempt of his father (who evens hit her regularly), and whose life changes as she sees how her family gets brutally murdered before her eyes; and honestly, she’s saved just by the pure luck of two strangers who work as Beast Hunters, and she becomes (sort of) her apprentice. Personally, this whole first scene for me it’s an intention declaration by Christer Lende, letting clear that we are in a dark fantasy novel, in a hard world. And after this, the real story starts, an adventure full of mysteries, found family, and action.
There is great work behind the characters in this story, especially on the group that gets formed between Ara and the Beast Hunters. Particularly, I would like to stop to highlight how certain themes are touched with the character of Ara; she’s somebody that hasn’t gotten appreciation from her family, her self-esteem is non-existent at the moment she is adopted by Topper and Khendrick; and her progression as a character with the help of the Hunters is well crafted, feeling really natural. Khendrick is also a particular kind of character, somebody who has been forged due to his years traveling as Beast Hunter, and with an excellent capability of observation (which is partly why I get those big Sherlock vibes, as that kind of eidetic memory is shared with the Conan Doyle’s character); and Topper, well, it’s Topper. It’s delightful to see the training and learning arc of Ara with these two, meanwhile, their bonds strengthen.
The worldbuilding is also excellent, something impressive with the short length of the book. There are plenty of fantastical creatures presented, sometimes with entries in the book they maintain as a compendium of their knowledge, sometimes by fighting with them. During their adventure in the city, we can also experiment with the multiple faces of people, and how they react to things they don’t really understand. Christer Lender has several surprises for the reader during this arc, letting you with your mouth open several times and hooking you to the book.
I absolutely loved the experience of reading the Beast Hunters. I think there is so much potential in this world, and in our group of characters, which I hope gets developed more in future books. It’s a really solid debut, my only complain with it is the length, as it is a short book in my opinion; and totally a recommendation for those The Witcher fans, because the vibes are totally there. Seriously, great job!
Christer Lende began writing in a library, which sounds fitting, only he was supposed to be there working on his engineering degree. He is a professional screenwriter, working with the Norwegian movie producer behind “One Love”, “Who Killed Birgitte” and “All about my Father” Bjørn Eivind Aarskog, together they are eveloping the manuscript for a Norwegian thriller. Bjørn hired Christer after reading The Beast Hunters, trusting Christer could bring his vision to life.
Christer lives in what Norwegians call a city, but people from actual cities would call a town. Of proud Viking blood, he honours his ancestors by heroically sitting in front of a computer writing Fantasy and Science Fiction books. He believes in writing a little bit every day, through weekends, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and even his own birthday. When he’s not writing, he takes care of his two dogs and tries to broker peace with his girlfriend. He’s often found at a gym, trying to compensate for his height issues, or lazily playing video games.
Christer did get that master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, despite procrastinating by writing fiction in the library, and works for a large IT firm, but writing and storytelling are his passions