Friday, February 17, 2017

Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner


Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

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?

What I Liked:

I've read Spooner's solo books (her debut trilogy), and her co-written books with Amie Kaufman. Her Skylark trilogy was so-so for me, but I loved the Starbound trilogy. When I saw that she would be publishing a new fantasy series, I was definitely intrigued and hopeful - maybe I would love this new solo series of hers. I'm so happy to say that I really enjoyed this new book of hers!

Yeva and her family have fallen on hard times, and they move far from town to their old cabin, where Yeva's father will hunt in the forest in order to provide for his three daughters, and make some money back to pay debts. Yeva's two older sisters, Lena and Asenka, are not like Yeva and her father. Yeva loves being in the forest, away from town, being able to hunt at will. But something dangerous lurks in the forest - a Beast who Yeva's father feared, right before he went missing. Yeva hunts the Beast, and what she finds isn't quite what she expected. She hates him, but she begins to understand him. How is it that he is just as trapped as she is? Yeva learns that the world she knows is not the only world that exists - and she is caught up in the magic.

Beauty and the Beast retelling, anyone? Perfect timing, given the live-action movie to be premiered soon. Personally, I'll take books over movies any day. This retelling is on its own level! I loved it. I was so curious to see how Spooner would handle the fairy tale, especially with all of the controversial aspects of Beauty and the Beast (Stockholm Syndrome, for one). 

Yeva is a not an angelic, naive heroine, nor is she a fierce, kickbutt type of heroine. She is sweet and selfless, but also tough and very independent. She likes to hunt in the forest, and enjoys the solitude. She cares for her two older sisters and her father, so much so that she makes different sacrifices when the opportunities present themselves, in order to help her family. When Yeva ends up in the Beast's castle, she is angry but unafraid. I really, really liked Yeva. Arguably, she is one of my favorite Spooner heroines (I liked the ladies in the Starbound trilogy though). She is so selfless, when it comes to her sisters and father, and eventually, the Beast.

The Beast... we all know the story of Beauty and the Beast, so I couldn't help but feel pity and remorse for him, from the start. But in the beginning, the author makes readers feel a little angry with him. He is not kind or patient with Yeva, and he seems more animal than human in the beginning. But his humanity comes about more and more, the longer Yeva is with him. The Beast is a character that I knew I would feel for, and my heart broke for him constantly.

In this book, Yeva actually gets to know the Beast for a bit before she finds out that he is the Beast, if that makes sense. She believed him to be a fellow prisoner at first, and he brought her food and supplies in the dungeon cell. But then all is revealed that he is actually her captor, and she hates him. It's interesting because Yeva gets to know the Beast before she learns that he is her captor, and then she finds out and hates him, and tries to kill him several times. But she quickly figures out that he is cursed, under a wretched spell, and that he seems to be both human and Beast. I liked this setup, in terms of the story. It sort of accounts for why Yeva might fall for him - she knew him as a "good guy" at first. Furthermore, she tries to keep hating him after she finds out that he is her captor, but he is kinder to her, and not a terrible, abusive captor. Still a captor.

The way this story is told, you won't find Stockholm Syndrome here. Yeva recognizes that she probably shouldn't care about her captor, but she also recognizes herself in him (the loneliness, the love of the forest, the desire for more). She talks to a friend about loving a cruel man, but realizes that the Beast is not that type of "cruel man". I think the author handled this aspect of the fairy tale extremely well, and worked around Stockholm Syndrome.

The progression of the relationship is extremely slow, and there is no physical aspect of the romance. In fact, it's hard to call the romance a "romance" because while Yeva does fall for the Beast (and vice versa), it's definitely more of a progression of an emotional connection than a physical one. This is kind of obvious, right? I liked the development of this powerful emotional connection, though it's hard to say in my mind that it's a "romance". It definitely becomes one after the spell is broken.

There is a good deal of magic in this book! Yeva's father used to tell her tales of magical beasts he used to see while hunting in the forest. Now, Yeva begins to see them herself, like the Firebird. Soon it becomes clear that the only way for Yeva to free the Beast from his spell is to seek out magic, and that is what Yeva decides to do, towards the end of the book. 

The setting is very Russian-esque, with the snowy scenery, forest, mountains, castles, and the obvious Russian names. I loved the setting and how it added to the magical world-building! Spooner did a beautiful job in crafting this fantasy world.

Overall, I really liked this retelling. Beauty and the Beast retellings can be extremely tricky, given the obvious Stockholm Syndrome problem, and bestiality, but I think Spooner rewrote the classic tale extremely well. There is so much more than two people falling for each other, but I'll let you discover that on your own. This is a great story, friends!

What I Did Not Like:

This is definitely a standalone novel and I absolutely love that it's a standalone novel, but I can't help but want a little more from Yeva (Beauty) and her "Beast", when he becomes human! We only get a few pages of them as a human man and human girl together, and the epilogue is a little on the vague side. Wishful thinking on my part, but I would have loved to get scenes showing the pair together, in the end. Like a more specific epilogue, showing their obvious love and adoration for each other.

But still, I'm really satisfied with this book overall.

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book if you like fantasy novels, fairy tale retellings, Beauty and the Beast, magical settings, clever heroines, and a romance that isn't a "romance" like you think. Plus, this is a standalone (though I think Spooner is writing more fairy tale retellings, possibly set in the same world but I'm not sure). It's perfect for fans of YA fantasy and fairy tales!

Rating:

4 stars. I had some expectations for this book, and I'd say Spooner met them. I'm excited to see what other solo projects she has, though I'm also looking forward to reading more co-written books!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

22 comments:

  1. Yaaay! I was nervous to see what you rated it because I wanted it to be so awesome! So happy that you enjoyed this! You definitely have me crazy excited to start this soon! Yeva sounds amazing and I love the setting!

    Great review, Alyssa!

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  2. I'm so glad you liked this one! B&B are my absolute favorite retellings, and I agree that Meagan Spooner did it justice with this story. I totally agree with you though - it would have been super sweet if we saw Yeva with the Beast as a human in some more scenes (just to reinforce that all the obstacles they had to go through was worth it). Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this one as well!

    - Aila @ One Way Or An Author

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  3. I'm SOOOOOOO looking forward to this one and I love seeing a high rating from you for it!

    Yeva sounds like a fantastic heroine and it sounds like a romance(?) I can get behind. I also love that there's so much magic in this one! It really sounds perfect for me.

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  4. I'm SO SO SO SO excited for this book! I LOVE retellings and everyone is raving about this one! Love your review :)

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  5. I haven't read any books from this author before, but this one sounds like something I would absolutely love. I'm so glad you found it enjoyable! I can't wait to read this one :)

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

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  6. Whoa, a retelling of B&B that doesn't have issues with Stockholm Syndrome?? Heck yes, sign me up! Honestly I've been feeling a bit burnt out on B&B and all its retellings, but Yeva sounds like a phenomenal heroine and now you've got me excited about this one. Thanks for the review, Alyssa! :D

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  7. Yay, I'm thrilled you enjoyed HUNTED!I have this to review and have been anxiously waiting to read it after I catch on my February TBR pile, lol. But, with this being inspired retelling I'm probably just going to jump right to it. I hope you have a great weekend, Alyssa :)

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  8. I'm thrilled to see that you enjoyed this one Alyssa, I was lucky enough to get a copy of this ages ago, but I still haven't had the time to read this book, but your review has made me eager to give this one a go a lot sooner! Fab review! :)

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  9. This sounds like a great book! I like that it is more of a deep connection over the romance and the Beauty and Beast twist. Great review!

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  10. OOoh niiiiiiiice! I admit anytime I see something Beauty and the Beast related I am immediately intrigued! LOL! I think I've ignored the obvious Stockholm Syndrome about the whole story over the years, but yeah, it's totally there. Still adore the story, even the way Disney did it! LOL! Glad to see you thought pretty highly of this one! I'm excited to read it! Great review!

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  11. I'm a big fan of Beauty and the Beast tales, so I got a copy of this too. I'm thrilled you enjoyed it, Alyssa. I'll probably wish for more at the end, too. I like a nice fleshed out HEA. Wonderful review! :)

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  12. I don't know if I've read any Beauty and the Beast retellings. This sounds really well done, and I like the set up that Yeva gets to know the Beast before realizing he's the captor. That definitely helps defeat the stockholm syndrome feel of the story.

    -Lauren

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  13. Great review, Alyssa! I'm really looking forward to this and the movie with Emma Watson. :)

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  14. This sounds really good. I have this author on my TBR list but haven't read her work yet. I like that it is a stand alone. Great review!

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  15. So good to hear you enjoyed this! I am really looking forward to this so hopefully it doesn't disappoint!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

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  16. I'm so glad you really enjoyed it. I've been anticipating it for some time now so to see you already read it I'm glad the hype is good! Also yes I can't wait for the live action movie (I love my movies/TV/books all) and it was my favorite growing up so yay!

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  17. So glad you ended up enjoying this one! I have it on my TBR list, and want to read it one day...if I ever catch up on my TBR list and ARCs. haha! I can't get enough of the retellings lately! lol

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  18. I can't wait to read this book! I have an eARC and I'll probably read it next week, so it was amazing to know it was as good as expected. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
    Have a great day, Alyssa!

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  19. Ohh amazing review Alyssa I absolutely love the starbound trilogy which I have not finished reading the whole trilogy yet. Ahh shocking I know but this one looks and sounds absolutely fantastic plus it is a fairy tale re-telling, plus fantasy plus it is a standalone those are all checks for me to too give this book a try! Thank you so much for the awesome post Alyssa.

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  20. Highly recommended for fantasy lovers? You know it! and B&B is my favorite fairy tale ever!!! Great review my friend.

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  21. Nice article, thank you for the sharing

    GlassesShop

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  22. Awesome review, Alyssa! I have actually been sitting on the ARC for a while now because I have seen initial reviews that were mostly negative...but now, I definitely will!

    Also, aren't you super excited for the love action Beauty and the Beast? I hope I won't be disappointed!

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