That was the thing about good people. They did the right thing just because it was.— Orfeus, Foxhunt
Orfeus the musician is searching for hope in the heart of danger…
In a lush solarpunk future, plants have stripped most of the poison from the air and bounty hunters keep resource hoarders in check. Orfeus only wants to be a travelling singer, famed and adored. She has her share of secrets, but she’s no energy criminal, so why does a bounty hunter want her dead? Not just any bounty hunter but the Wolf, most fearsome of all the Order of the Vengeful Wild. Orfeus will call in every favor she has to find out, seeking answers while clinging to her pride and fending off the hunters of the Wild. But she isn’t the only one at risk: every misstep endangers the enemies she turns into allies, and the allies she brings into danger. There are worse monsters than the Wolf hiding in this new green world.
Quick review: Foxhunt is an incredibly enjoyable, fast-paced romp at the same time as it is a story that delves deep into the heart of its protagonist. That heart yearns even as it steels itself, and the yearning slow burn of the romance is delicious. It’s a bright look at the future, with smart worldbuilding; for me a wonderful introduction to the genre of solarpunk.
Here’s where I scream into the Void about how much I love Orfeus: I LOVE ORFEUS.
She’s everything I love in a protagonist: smart as a whip, tenderising me with her conflicting emotions, and that maelstrom of guilt, a dash of self-loathing, and obliviousness to others’ warm regard of her after what happened in Tinctora, her home. Foxhunt is Orfeus’ self-inflicted redemption arc, and it sends her on a journey: an investigation, yes, but also self-discovery. Orfeus balances on the knife-edge of becoming someone else, something new and terrifying; something that threatens to overrun the kindness in her. She won’t let it. Perhaps one day, she’ll have to.
Orfeus meets many new companions on this road — and I would do anything for Rivasoa — but she also brings us to meet some old friends: Linden and Bright and Em are a delight. Each of these relationships feels real as Wigmore gives them depth and history with deft touches. They’re part of Orfeus herself because they are important to her, and every time we meet them we gain a sense of who they are but equally of Orfeus: how they see her and how she sees herself. All of this is an integral part of Orfeus’ characterisation as someone whose self-perception is a driving force. She’s acutely aware of her strengths but equally — if not more so — of her shortcomings, such as they are or might be.
And then, sometimes, she’s incredibly dense. Oh my god, Orfeus!
Faolan (who uses both she/her and he/him) is the bounty hunter on Orfeus’ tail, and then her ostensibly reluctant partner when she joins the Wild Hunt. The romance unfolding between them is tender and subtle right up until it hits Orfeus like a sledgehammer to the back; the emotions simmering underneath Faol’s tightly leashed control might make readers well-versed in slow burn and pining squeak with delight quite quickly, but it takes Orfeus a while to realise both of their growing affection for one another. Something-something unyielding devotion, Andrea needs to have a sit-down. Dammit, Wolf!
Oh, the ending. I won’t spoil anything, but I am not kidding when I say I had to go lie down on the office couch and stare into the middle distance for a few minutes after finishing the story over lunch.
(whispers) Please say there’s a sequel.
The Found Family
I am so incredibly weak to found family — especially found family of the “we’re all killers and assassins, but we’re sweet” variety. I love every single one of these dorks so much, not least because Orfeus is thrust into their midst in a frightening trial that at once showcases how dangerous these people are, how lethal, and reveals their unique blend of pragmatism about their being, well, dangerous assassins. Joining the Wild Hunt under Luga’s sinister leadership comes with cutting a blank cheque for your own violent murder, or so it seems, and everyone’s just cool with that.
It takes Orfeus some time to adjust to that, moreso it takes her time to believe. The way she falls into a tangled web of family and deception, it’s clear that she knows how to make allies. The boundaries between securing alliances and finding friends, however, begin to blur. Nom nom nom. I recommended this to friends based specifically on the draw of found family assassins eating and cooking together because, in a space that feels ubiquitously utilitarian, something so domestic becomes the line straight to readers’ hearts — at the very least, mine.
Foxhunt is an incredibly enjoyable, fast-paced romp at the same time as it is a story that delves deep into the heart of its protagonist. That heart yearns even as it steels itself, and the yearning slow burn of the romance is delicious. It’s a bright look at the future, with smart worldbuilding; for me a wonderful introduction to the genre of solarpunk.
The mystery Orfeus is set to unravel is well-structured and draws righter and tighter circles around the crowd of suspects even as the scope of horror she encounters grows.
What I loved most about it is that diversity of genders and gender expression/presentation is handled deftly and with the certainty that this is how things should be. Pronouns are a standard part of introductions as a matter of courtesy (not self-importance, as the so-called gendercritical crowd likes to crow) for everybody. It’s really quite simple: that’s the future I want to live in. If we could avoid the climate catastrophy that led to Foxhunt’s world’s policy of carbon debt, that’d be swell. But mostly I’m here for the queer shenanigans.
Genre Solarpunk/Climate Fiction, Science Fiction
Narrative voice Third-Person
Content warnings Descriptions of violence, descriptions of medical procedures/experiments
Maturity rating 15+