Published by HarperCollins on March 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones—and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and 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. The Beast.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical 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?
“She wept because she did not know what she wanted, and because she wanted everything.”
Wow, this was… unexpected. I got an arc of Hunted from edelweiss months ago. After putting it off again and again for other books, I decided to let it expire. Seriously, who even needs another Beauty & the Beast retelling? Then this book was given to me as a gift and *resigned sigh* I decided to just give it a shot. And I’m so glad I did.
Cruel Beauty is still my favourite Beauty & the Beast retelling, but this comes in at a close second. It obviously follows the familiar B&tB format, whilst doing something completely new and fresh with it. I loved what it did. I love the new themes the author explores in this old template.
It’s a haunting, well-written story. Full of icy coldness, the language of fairy tales, and underneath, a running theme of that inexplicable longing for something you can’t quite put your finger on. Maybe it’s like wanderlust – that restlessness and dissatisfaction with staying in one place for too long. Maybe it’s just wanting without knowing what you want. It’s powerful, though, and Spooner captures that feeling so wonderfully here.
Surprisingly, it’s very… not romantic. There is no time given over to lusty encounters and stolen kisses with a somehow sexy beast. Rather, the relationship between Beauty and this Beast is one between two outsiders who see something they recognize in one another. Yeva (aka “Beauty”) is a trained hunter and she remains dedicated to her passion and her family throughout.
The setting is inspired by rural medieval Russia. Lots of coldness, snow and ice, and it fits with the tale very well. Yeva and her father navigate this white-covered wilderness in their hunting, but then Yeva’s father starts rambling about a beast unlike any other. A beast that is smart and cunning. A beast that is following him.
The snow is a canvas, her father would say, upon which the beast paints his past, his home, his intentions, his future. Learn to see the picture and you will know him as you know yourself.
When he doesn’t return from a hunting trip, Yeva leaves her beloved sisters to go track him. Of course, she finds way more than she bargained for. Not just a beast, but a whole world of fantastical creatures that seem to play by a different set of rules. But Yeva knows these rules; they’re the rules of the fairy tales her father always read to her. The rule of threes. The rule of curses. The rule of breaking them.
Yeva is determined to kill the beast and return to her family. But her quest to kill the seemingly unkillable creature unveils ever more secrets, and the longer she spends in this world, the more she worries what world she will find when she leaves.
Despite having read so many retellings these past few years, Hunted found a special place in my heart. It was thoughtful, moving and – for me – unputdownable.