- Page Count: 352
- Release Date: March 14, 2017
- My Rating: 4 stars
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?
Umm pretty sure Beauty & the Beast + Russian folk tales (mostly “Tsarevitch Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf”) is the most genius mix I never knew I needed.
Beauty is a childhood nickname for Yeva, a girl who grew up hunting with her father and wants a husband who admires her talent as an equal. She’s a wonderfully complex, flawed, and capable main character and I really enjoyed reading from her POV. She’s torn between duty & caring for her family and seeking the life she wants.
The retelling follows the traditional Beauty & the Beast with how Beauty is her father’s favorite of his 3 daughters. He’s a trader who loses his fortune, so they all move into his remote hunting cabin in the forest. Beauty grew up hearing his stories of the Firebird and other fairy tales, but didn’t think they were real. One day the father goes missing, so Beauty goes to find him and is taken prisoner by the beast who killed him.
The story’s told from Beauty’s POV but has a page from the Beast every few chapters to show his evolving mindset. How he became the Beast and the way that the Ivan & the Wolf story comes in was pretty clever.
The author really put in a lot of effort to make the tricky areas of the retelling work. Beauty & the Beast has so many themes that can get super sketchy… the Stockholm Syndrome & bestiality have been straight up weird in a lot of retellings. In this one, Beauty doesn’t realize the Beast is her captor when she becomes attached to him. After she finds out, she attempts to kill him several times, is completely self-aware, and has serious conversations with a friend about women who form attachments to men who are cruel to them. It was nice that the author addressed those topics instead of trying to dance around everything and pretend it’s a totally normal situation at the very least.
And I was so, so grateful that Beauty’s two sisters weren’t the petty, cruel characters from the original story. The three sisters are all selfless, kind, and unique characters who love and support each other. I’m getting sick of reading about constant girl hate, so that was just a nice change.
And I’m not sure why the title says “Hunted #1” like this is part of a series because this story totally ended. Maybe there’s a series of other retellings? I don’t know, but don’t worry about this being any kind of cliffhanger!
Anyways, the writing is seriously gorgeous and the snowy Russian-type world was amazing. I just really love snow. The only reason I took a star off was because this story was going SO strong and then kind of… fizzled out in the last 10%.It changed gears into what felt almost like a new story or direction, but then that was over too quickly. And I just wasn’t into the romance at the end either.
So the end had some wasted potential, but the rest of the story was really well done!!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC.