In which the Beauty hunts the Beast.
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?
Author: Meagan Spooner
Publication: March 14, 2017 by HarperTeen
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Target audience: Young Adult
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This kinda exceeded my expectations.
Let’s be honest from the start. I love fairy tales and retellings, so I had to pick this up. What I don’t love as much is Beauty and the Beast. I know, I know, how can this be, you ask, considering it features a smart female protagonist and a huge library.
I suppose being prisoner to a beast and then falling in love with said beast just isn’t my kind of thing, but whatever.
On the cover of Hunted it says “A Beauty deadlier than the Beats”, so I ignored my vague dislike (I don’t know if I can really call it dislike, maybe unlove) and snatched it up.
And boooy am I glad. I enjoyed this book so much!
The story ensnared me from the first page.
Our protagonist Yeva is pretty likable. She has her moments where her thoughts enter basic YA-female protagonist stupidity and I want to slap her, but thankfully she herself realizes that her thoughts don’t match her behaviour. And really, that was only in the beginning. The more I read on, the more I liked her. (Also, thanks for calling her Yeva most of the time. ‘Beauty’ just made me cringe.)
The Beast, seen through Yeva’s eyes, is, well, a beast. And that’s good so. I was so afraid that she would immediately fall in love with this animal (ew) but she didn’t!! Instead the Beast is actually the one falling in love with Yeva. Before every chapter, we get to see the Beast’s thoughts and I am soo thankful for that. Seeing the Beast develop, fall in love and denying it was great.
Aside from these two, there aren’t that many characters in this book. They don’t have that much personality either besides for like two traits, so they didn’t become important to me. But I don’t think that’s an issue. The focus was obviously on the Beauty and the Beast and so we had time to grow fond of them.
I don’t think I have to explain the plot of Beauty and the Beast, but this retelling has a few nice twists.
First of all, the story plays in medieval Russia. I didn’t actually know this until Yeva started talking of stories like Vasilisa the Beautiful and Prince Ivan. By Baba Yaga I was completely sure that this was set in Russia. If I had known that this played in Russia, I would have probably picked it up earlier. Yes, I am that influenced by my descent. (Fun Fact: I was telling my mama about this book and the Russian fairy tales. When I mentioned Baba Yaga, she laughed her ass off. Now I know how it feels when I laugh at her because of her pronunciation. By the way, it is Baba Yeegaaaaa and not Yaga.)
Second, the magic. This book is surprisingly magical. I mean, sure the Beast was cursed and all, but you will encounter all kinds of magical creatures. I liked that.
Third… ah well yes, she is a hunter. And not from one moment to the other as well. She’s actually done that when she was a child and she needed time to get fit again. Damn guys, you have no idea how important that was to me. I was afraid she would just pick up a bow and then suddenly become a master hunter.
This was a fast enjoyable read that I recommend to every fairy tale lover. I am already looking forward to Meagan Spooner’s next book Sherwood – a gender-bent retelling of Robin Hood.