BWW Review: HUNTED by Meagan Spooner
"She moves like beauty, she whispers to us of wind and forest-and she tells us stories, such stories that we wake in the night, dreaming dreams of a life long past. She reminds us of what we used to be.
She reminds us of what we could be."
HUNTED by Meagan Spooner came out this week, just in time to be scooped up by fans looking for more Beauty and the Beast-inspired worlds after seeing the brand-new Disney live-action movie. It's a gorgeous new rendition of the tale, and mixes in Russian myths such as The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa and, of course, Tsarevich Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf. There's also a lot atmosphere in the book that creates a unique world where anything is possible.
Yeva has never wanted to be a proper lady like her elder sisters. She'd rather be outside with the wind through her hair and the grass at her feet. When her family falls into ruin and they're forced to move to her father's hunting cabin, she's secretly happy. She can finally throw off the restrictions of society and all that comes with being a lady. She can hunt again. She can be outdoors. This is the life she dreamed about but knew she could never have, the life she would have chosen for herself. When her father goes hunting for larger, more dangerous game in the heart of the woods and never returns, it's up to Yeva to save her father before it's too late. Unfortunately, she finds herself captured by her father's murderer, a wild, savage beast. She vows to kill the beast and bring vengeance to her father. But what if there's more at stake than what meets the eye?
I really like the unique twists and turns of this particular retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It's a little more dangerous, it's a little more off-the-beaten-path. All the new elements add intriguing dips and valleys that made me eager to explore the tale all over again as though it were for the first time. I also really love that our Beauty is a hunter who provides for her family. That's one thing I liked so much about Feyre from Sarah J. Maas' A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES retelling. She knows her way around a bow and arrow. She can survive on her own. She can provide for her family when her father leaves. I really like that strength, and think focusing on it for the book's title, HUNTED, and including a bow and arrow through the title on the cover was a smart choice. It shows that there's more than meets the eye and that the girl on the cover might just be capable of saving herself.
I also love the way the story weaves in Russian myths, which I'm not nearly as familiar with--and in a way that sort of reminds me of 1001 Arabian Nights, because it helps Yeva and the Beast establish a bond and begin getting to know one another. Their friendship/romance moves slowly, but that transition is always more necessary in a retelling such as Beauty and the Beast, where so much must be overcome in order to enjoy one another's company and find something more there. The pacing worked perfectly for the novel and unfurled at the perfect speed. The closure worked in a way I didn't even imagine, and it made me want more time with the characters because I just wasn't done with them yet. I didn't want to say goodbye. I wanted more adventures, more intrigue! I would seriously love it if the author started writing more fairy tales and made the worlds interconnected with one another.
And the palace? Unlike it other retellings that whip up invisible servants and countless luxuries, it is decrepit and falling to pieces around the Beast. It is dangerous. It is old. I love the visuals of this version of the once-elaborate castle and thought it worked really well to have such a location. It made sense, like, of course the Beast can't take care of his palace. He's a beast. And of course the enchantment won't ensure his comfort. It's a curse, not a blessing in disguise. Plus? When Yeva meets him, he is most DEFINITELY a beast. He's not very rational, and slowly re-learns his humanity as the book progresses. The small glimpses from his perspective really showcase his shattered mind and daily struggle to maintain a grasp on reality. It made the Beast and his struggle feel very realistic and fleshed out in a way that many other retellings don't, now that I think about it.
HUNTED is one brand new release worth picking up, and came out at the perfect time for Beauty and the Beast lovers to discover its story!
HUNTED by Meagan Spooner was first published on March 14, 2017 from HarperTeen.