Synopsis (From GoodReads):
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?
I first found out about Hunted, by Meagan Spooner, from the author's newsletter (co-hosted by Aimee Kaufman). A YA retelling of Beauty and The Beast, I was intrigued and put myself on my library's wait list. Luckily, I was able to get an e-book version of it on it's release date of March 14th. It is much deeper and more complex than anything Disney could come up with, and I devoured it quickly.
What I Liked:Character:
Yeva is the main character, who's father's nickname for her is Beauty. She loves is hunting with her father. But, now that she is of marrying age, she is discouraged from hunting, and thrown in with women who seem most concerend with fashion, gossip, and catching a husband. She feels alone, and wants more. I loved that the book focused on more than Yeva wanting a mate who was more intellectual than the men that were around her village. Yeva can't even articulate what it is she wants, she just knows it must lie in the forest...
I also enjoyed the character of Solmir, the man is courting Yeva (Gaston's counterpart, if you're keeping tabs). He was not an uneducated thug, as in the Disney version. He was actually quite kind and truly interested in Yeva's well-being. He was everything any girl (but Yeva) could hope for, yet Yeva could only feel a sisterly love for him. She wanted more...
The Beast is also much more complex than in the Disney version. I loved how the book showed his dual nature fighting against each other. Is he a man doomed to have animal instincts he can't control? Or is he a beast cursed to have a conscience? He is also not trying to get Yeva to fall in love with him! She is a gifted hunter, and he needs a hunter to kill what has bewitched him.
I found the themes in the book to be nuanced and have such depth. The idea of everyone having more than one nature was astute. No one is completely good or bad. We also have more than one role in life: woman, sister, lover, nurturer, provider. We can be many things all at once.
There is also the theme of discontent throughout the novel. Yeva doesn't want to live in the city, but when she gets to the country, she wants to live even further in the woods. When she is there, she dreams of being reunited with her family, but even when this happens, she is not content. Can she ever be happy? Is "happy" a destination? Do you get there, and suddenly you're happy? This book goes in to all of that with the Beast as well.
I think this book does a great job of addressing some of the troubling parts of the original story. Many people have pointed out that the Belle character (Yeva) is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. This is when you are kidnapped, but then come to identify too much with your captors. Another way to look at it is from the standpoint of an abusive relationship. Is Yeva in that type of situation? Why would she want to save the Beast? I liked that the story didn't shy away from these issues, but explored them instead.
Overall, this was a very satisfying story! It had suspense, fully developed characters, and fascinating themes. I loved it!
Release Date: March 14th, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Public Library
Recommendation: A complex and thought-provoking retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Absolutely gripping.