Hunter’s Moon by Garry Kilworth.
A book about foxes? Yes, please. As I mentioned in my Day Nine review, “I grew up in the only place in the world, bar Antarctica, where foxes do not live.” I love these animals so much, and I’ve never seen one in real life, not even in a zoo. They are the most interesting, wonderful, beautiful creatures I have ever read about. I love them.
I’ve read one other Kilworth book (I don’t remember the name, but it wasn’t an animal one), read reviews of others, and I’m strongly of the opinion that this is his best book. It not only tells the life story of an English vixen, O-ha, and what happens as her native wood is redeveloped into a town, but it also gives an account of the mythology of the foxes and explains why dogs and wolves and foxes, although cousins, are also enemies. It tells the story of foxes through fox eyes and pulls you so far into the story that you can really imagine what it must be like living through uncertain times at the mercy of humans ruining your home.
O-ha’s story is a sad one. He loses her first mate, A-ho in a fox hunt, and her first litter to human cruelty. Then she meets Camio, and American red fox who escaped from London Zoo. Their romance isn’t easy, because O-ha is still grieving for A-ho and her lost litter, but the story also follows her and Camio’s litter and their stories as well.
The characters are so well written, and they develop beautifully, even the cubs. O-ha’s a traditional fox, and Camio’s more progressive. Their arguments on raising their cubs are priceless. O-ha insists on teaching them all the traditions that have kept the foxes alive, even though they no longer apply. Camio’s such a great daddy that he goes along with her for the sake of the cubs.
This book isn’t suitable for children, though I would happily give it to a teenager. Only because there is a lot of death, blood, violence, a smattering of animal sex, and heavy themes that are hard for young minds to grasp. I read it when I was about thirteen or fourteen, borrowed from my school library, and hunted for my own copy for years after. I found a copy in a second hand bookstore when I was in my early twenties. I told the bookseller she’d made my week. I was so excited to have my own copy.
It was first published in hardcover in 1989.