Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Published: March 2017
Genre: young adult, fantasy
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?
Yeva’s family is forced to move to their winter home, a hunting lodge on the outskirts of town at the edge of a deep woods. Yeva and her father are pleased by the move, only because they’re such natural hunters. But when he comes back from a hunt raving about a Beast, and disappears again in his madness to find the creature, Yeva takes it upon herself to find them. What she was not prepared for was just how right her father was, how unprepared she is, and how otherworldly the Beast and his own captivity is. Has she entered a fairytale, or a nightmare?
You think you know the Beauty and the Beast fairytale story. A selfish prince is cursed, turned into a beast until he learns to love another and the other loves in return. There’s captivity, madness, and magic, and in the middle of it all is a beautiful young woman. I love this fairytale, problematic situations and all. I was concerned this would be another one of those retellings that just rehash the same old story — and poorly — but that was not the case.
This novel was so intense and perfect and exactly what I wanted from a Beauty and the Beast retelling without even knowing it. The hunter/hunted theme really brought out just how self-sufficient our leading lady (the Badass Protagonist) is. Yeva is quite possibly one of the fiercest, strongest female protagonists I’ve seen in YA fantasy in a while. There is no Stockholm Syndrome here!
What I loved the most was how quickly I forgot this was a Beauty and the Beast retelling. The setting alone quickly maneuvered the comparisons and made the story stand on its own. A Russian winterscape — almost solidly historical at first before Yeva crosses into the magical woods — was absolutely perfect. It turned Hunted into a fairytale within a fairytale. Yeva even uses Russian fairytales to help maintain a calm rationale for everything, as she herself had difficulty coming to terms with the magical elements she encountered.
I applaud Spooner. This is a phenomenal book.
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from HarperTeen for review!