Yeva, known as Beauty, has always felt the call of the forest in her bones. Though she has grown up as a respected daughter among the elite in her town, she has always been drawn to the forest and to the hunt that calls her there. When their family's fortune is lost, their family relocates to his old hunting cabin on the outskirts of town - a move that Yeva doesn't mind, as it brings her closer to the forest she loves. Her father, driven mad by a desire to hunt, goes missing, and Yeva is determined to find him... even it if means tracking the Beast that her father has told her of.
Plot? The beginning of the story - when Yeva's father loses his fortune and moves the entire family out to his hunting cabin up until he disappears - was certainly reminiscent of many versions of the original tale that I've read. But from that point forward, I was treated to a story that still had recognizable moments but was also something entirely new to me. I was swept up in Yeva's self-determined mission to hunt down the Beast, and the consequences of her actions as she learns more about the mysteries of the wood. It was compelling and I was glued to the pages of this story!
Characters? If I ever met Yeva in real life, I'd certainly think she was intimidating. She's a girl who knows her own mind, who is caught up in the magic of the stories she's heard all her life and the desire to embrace hunting in the woods as her father did. She's incredibly capable and smart, but she's also vulnerable in other ways, and the combination made her someone I liked in an instant. There are other characters we meet as well - the ferocious and tormented Beast and her two doting and beloved elder sisters being my favorites among a number of other folk. While I didn't necessarily feel like I knew more than what I had observed through Yeva's perspective or based on what interactions were included, they were still strong additions to the tale.
Writing? I'd be remiss if I didn't say that my favorite thing about this novel was the writing. It really brought the setting to life, both the reality of Yeva's daily life (at home or with the Beast) and the magic interwoven into the tale. I was transported into another world as I read, easily devouring page after page in an effort to unravel what happens to Yeva (and the Beast) by the end of the book.
Overall? Of the Beauty and the Beast book adaptations I've ever read, Hunted is certainly on my top shelf. Spooner's deft hand in combining familiar details from the original tale with elements of Russian folklore turned what could have been an ordinary fantasy novel into something lovely, atmospheric and compulsively readable. In spite of the fact that it does have a slower pace and a mostly solitary main character, I still really enjoyed it and would highly recommend checking it out.
What is your favorite Beauty and the Beast adaptation? I have watched and read many different adaptations of Beauty and the Beast, but I will always have a major soft spot for the Disney version of this fairytale. It is one of the earliest films I remember ever seeing as a child, and I also know that Belle was definitely the first princess that I fell in love with. I even dressed up as her for one Halloween! And even now, as an adult, I still fall in love with the story all over again whenever I get to see it. I'm majorly excited for the Disney live action version coming out next week too, as I suspect it might eclipse my love for the original animated one.
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Harper Teen | Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Source: ARC downloaded from Edelweiss (Thank you!)