My sweet friend lent me HUNTED because she knows I'm a sucker for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST retellings, and I'm so stinking happy she did.
I have read my fair share of retellings, especially about Beauty and her grumpy friend, Beast. My favorite version to date is BEAUTY by the indomitable Robin McKinley. If you haven't read it, stop what you're doing and get thee to the library. You're welcome.
For reference, here's the official description of the book:
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?
When I started HUNTED, I have to admit I was super nervous. I love retellings, but I find that I'm drawn to the stories that flesh out the tale in a unique way, but still keep the essence of the original. When Marissa Meyer wrote her Lunar Chronicle stories, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed them (except for WINTER, but that's me personally. I have such a hard time reading about a character who turns evil. I had the same issue with THE PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GRAY and BREAKING BAD).
HUNTED was able to show me a fully realized world, while still keeping with that whimsical, vintage and historical tone I love from the original tale. It felt fresh, but familiar at the same time. I was hooked by the end of chapter one.
Our heroine is headstrong and brave, adept at hunting thanks to her Papa, and it was a joy getting to know her. I'm also drawn to stories about sisters—I think it's because I don't have any, and I want to adopt them all. Their relationship was portrayed in a realistic and sincere way, which I appreciated. The three of them rang true, and were all fully developed. And they had journeys of their own—KUDOS to the Meagan Spooner. It's amazing to read about characters who aren't props for the MC. They each had their own story, own desires and disappointments, separate from our Heroine.
As for the BEAST...Yes, please and thank you. He's a great character and when he's on the page, he steals the show. The romance absolutely worked—no instalove here!
In this book we have wonderful writing, adventure, a sweet love story, sisters, and a dog! Seriously, I highly, highly recommend the read!