Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner
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?
Somehow I became a sucker for basically any Beauty and the Beast retelling. I love retellings in general, but somehow this particular one has become my jam.
And Hunted does not disappoint. The Beauty in Megan Spooner's retelling is fierce, devoted, and also desperate for something more (not entirely dissimilar from but not quite as annoying as the "there must be more than this provincial life" kind of way). She also feels intense guilt for her desire for a life more than what she has.
Her father loses their money and he, Yeva and her two sisters must sell what they can and move back to his hunting lodge, where he lived and hunted as a young man. He's gone all the time and Yeva begins hunting nearby in the woods to just get away from her sisters' sadness. There, a young man from the village (Gaston, basically, except not at all a Gaston - this young man is sweet, and kind, and full of love) comes to encourage her to marry him. He will love enough for the both of them, take care of her family, and she can always remain exactly who she is. She finally promises she will marry him once her father returns from his hunts. But he doesn't return, and she feels that the beast that he raved about is alive and well in the woods. Yeva sets out to find her father and kill the beast.
Y'all, Hunted is such a gorgeous novel. It's full of anger and darkness. Yes, there is also a library, and, yes, Yeva has a lot of feelings toward the Beast, but this is no heartwarming romance. There are magical creatures in the Beast's world, but they are dangerous and full of trickery. Set in medieval Russia in the winter, there is a lot of ice and cold, but there are no cute snowball fights.
This is a retelling of famous fairy tale, full of magic and wonder and beasts, but this also a human story about the price of greed and the weight of guilt.
I put this book down only when I had to, and then I couldn't stop thinking about when I could pick it back up again. Then I sat outside on my porch, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, just so I wouldn't have to put it back down.
Should you read it? If you love gorgeous, poetic prose and dark retellings of your favorite stories, then you should read this.
Published March 14, 2017 by HarperTeen