I received this book for free from the Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperTeen on March 14th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Source: the Publisher via Edelweiss
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Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.
So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
I was really excited about this book as soon as I saw it. I’m a big fan of Meagan Spooner’s Starbound series with Amie Kaufman, though I haven’t read her other series. So when I saw she was writing a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I immediately added it to my MUST-READ list. And luckily, not too much later, I was able to get a copy through Edelweiss. I don’t know how I ended up waiting so long to read it but I do know I was a little nervous about it. Mostly because I can have trouble with retellings and Beauty and the Beast isn’t always my favorite story. I have a pretty hard time getting past the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing. But when I was ready, I dove right in and didn’t look back. I also couldn’t put the book down much at all. Unfortunately, while I did enjoy the book in the end, I didn’t love it. Here are the reasons why:
What I Liked:
I really liked Yeva. From the moment I met her, I wanted to know more about her. I loved how strong-willed and smart she was. I loved that she loved her family and was so loyal to them and wanted to take care of them. I liked her relationship with her dad and I wanted to be able to see her out in the wild, hunting. She was a great character from beginning to end and might just be my favorite part of this whole book.
This is sort of the same but I really liked Yeva’s family. Her sisters were both great characters, though we don’t get to see them much. I liked that even though Lena seems to be a society-girl type, she isn’t stuck up or spoiled. She wants to fit into society and wants to be married but it’s more because she’s in love than anything else. And she doesn’t shy away from hard work. So often times in books like these, the sisters or side characters are relegated to one thing and that doesn’t happen in this book. Yeva’s other sister was also a really good character but I did have a little bit of trouble with her martyr act near the end. But still, I really liked Yeva’s family and the bond they all had with each other. Also, I really liked Solmir. I don’t really have anywhere else to put him but I liked him a lot.
I liked the way the relationship developed between Yeva and Beast. It was nice and slow and easy to see why she would have feelings for him. Much more so than the Disney movie, we get to see how they learn more about each other, spend time together, and start to work past how their relationship started and became something much deeper with mutual feelings.
I very much liked the fantasy elements present in this one. In Beast’s forest, we meet many creatures who seem almost fae like with their strange truths and misleading information. While Yeva is trying to learn ways to kill the beast, she is lead on a journey by some of these creatures and finds things she didn’t expect. I thought the way this was executed was really interesting and well done. I enjoyed watching both Yeva and Beast learn about themselves in these moments and how it changed them.
The end. I actually really loved the end. How it became the right time for both Yeva and Beast to find each other, how Yeva fought for what she wanted, how the magical elements all came together, and how it all just felt right. Disney movies set us all up to believe in easy happily ever afters but I like when it takes just a little bit of work to get there. It feels so much more worth it in the end.
What I Didn’t Like:
The middle got pretty slow and repetitive for me. Yes, I understand that Yeva wants to kill the beast. And I understand the beast is keeping her trapped. I know all of this and don’t need told every few pages in the middle. And so much time just kept on passing. All of a sudden the next paragraph would be several weeks later. And things would still be the same. I was getting a little bit worried in the middle that it wouldn’t ever pick up again. Once it did, it got really good again. But that middle was a little hard to get through.
I still had some trouble with the Stockholm Syndrome romance. Every other part of the romance I liked. But when Yeva starts having feelings for Beast because she realizes he’s feeding her, that’s when I have a problem. I know it’s fiction and this is my problem, but I just hate when a victim starts being thankful and having romantic feelings when their captor is treating them in a not-horrible way. Giving someone food and light shouldn’t equal love while keeping them locked up shouldn’t equal love. Also, saying someone can go but their family will be killed doesn’t equal freedom either. And I know this one is on me, it’s just one of those things that I have a hard time getting past, like love triangles and instalove. So definitely take that into consideration when deciding whether to pick this one up or not. If SS troubles you too and if you didn’t like the Disney movie because of it, you probably won’t like this one either.
I know this is a retelling so it’s not going to be all that original, but the beginning of this one felt A LOT like A Court of Thorns and Roses. Between the cabin near the woods and Yeva being the hunter and providor and her sisters and her Dad and the beasts and magical creatures etc, etc, it was very similar. And to be completely fair, I haven’t read the original tale this comes from so maybe that’s how it all starts but I just had a hard time with it being so much the same.
Overall, I did enjoy this one. And if Yeva and Beast had teamed up from the beginning rather than being captor and captive, it probably would have been one of my favorite books of the year. But since this is a retelling and that’s a pretty big part of the story, I understand it can’t be left out. I did really like how this one finished up, how strong and determined Yeva was, and how the curse ended up being broken. I really think if you love the Disney version, you’ll love this one too. I always had a hard time with the SS thing and liked the movie more because of Belle and the rest of the castle dwellers than the romance. But I do think this retelling was well done and fans of Beauty and the Beast should read it.