- Page Count: 416
- Release Date: March 8, 2016
- My Rating: 3.5 stars
When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.
Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger…until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.
Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.
Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.
I will read and most likely love just about any story with princesses and castles, but was kind of split on this one. There were parts I loved, though, so bear with me here.
The story starts out as a retelling of “The Singing Bone” with an attempt to be more progressive — the king has made it known that his daughters can marry whomever they choose since he himself married an acrobat, but then an evil beast starts attacking and that all gets chucked out the window. The king decides that the absolute ONLY option is to offer his daughter Ariety in marriage to the man who can kill the beast. Everyone’s main concern is whether some vagabond will win and have to live in the castle with them. The king’s all “this is a worthy cause… Ariety will survive.”
So the “princess willing to risk all” in the description ends up being a girl willing to give up her future and marry the winner.
The story started out with the cliche weak female MC & asshole love interest, but got some plot points about 2/3 of the way through that really helped. It definitely took me some time to get into and I wasn’t a huge fan at first. But I liked some of the characters like Paxton’s little brother enough to keep reading and I’m glad I did! The story is definitely on the “younger” end of YA, but it also spent the whole book building up a pretty complex world & conflicts.
Complaints: It kind of irritated me how the girls would just fade to the side and dismiss silly things as “oh, the logic of men” and their general personality seems to be “blushing.” And domestic violence is not a joke. Most of the plot was juvenile sexual tension that was shoved in with zero subtlety. And the more rude and cold that Paxton was to Ariety, the more she was attracted to him?
Oh, and there were just way too many minor characters for me to really get a solid idea of anyone. The POV randomly switched between at least 9 people, most of whom didn’t even matter. The villain isn’t really revealed until the end, either.
If the story had toned down the majorly forced
romance lust going on with like 4-5 of the main characters and focused more on the actual plot, I would’ve given it more stars. I guess most of my problems would’ve been solved by going into this book with the expectation that it’s for a younger audience.
BUT it’s still a fun story in the end. I think the sequel was built up to be awesome because there’s an interesting side plot with magic people who are being persecuted. And it felt like Paxton and Ariety both had a major personality flip about 75% of the way through… so the ending turned into a book I genuinely liked. I’ll definitely be checking out the next book!