Series: The Great Hunt
Published by HarperTeen on March 8th 2016
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Romance, Young Adult
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Kill the beast. Win the girl.
A strange beast stirs fear in the kingdom of Lochlanach, terrorizing towns with its brutality and hunger. 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 understands her duty to the kingdom though it pains her to imagine marrying a stranger. It would be foolish to set her sights on any particular man in the great hunt, but when 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 keen on marriage. 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 and protecting his family—yet Princess Aerity continues to challenge his notions with her unpredictability and charm. But as past secrets collide with present desires, dire choices threaten everything Paxton holds dear.
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, outlawed magic, and a princess willing to risk all to save her people.
It took me almost a month to read this book, not because it was long but because every time I tried to pick it up, I had to force myself to keep reading. The thing is, I think it’s only because this book is just not for me. If I weren’t so primed for adventure books maybe, or if I could appreciate more romance in my stories. In any case, I really do think readers who enjoyed Higgins’s previous books will also enjoy this one.
Right from the beginning we see the strange beast attack people in the kingdom of Lochlanach. I really enjoyed the world built in this book: there are people called Lashed ones, who are reviled and can use magic. Unfortunately, using their abilities is against the law so they have to hide it, which is also detrimental to their health and leads them to a shorter lifespan. The story is told from alternating third person limited POV’s, which means that we get to see what goes on in the heads of several of the characters.
Let me tell you straight up, not much happens. In the 50% mark, I took a break because it just got so BORING. We have a great beast killing all the villagers, and hunters get called to defeat it with the prize of the princess Aerity’s hand in marriage. However, the little moments that they do confront the beast have no impact. It felt like the characters kept circling the beast, or the central topic in the book, but to me it was like they were circling a bunch of nothing. I could never feel the DANGER of the beast throughout the entire book. The blurb made it seem like a dark, morbid and grim atmosphere but all I pictured were pretty princesses doing their thing.
The majority of the book was spent languishing around the castle and going outside occasionally for the hunt. I’m a huge fan of journeys and adventures, so seeing the characters act like sheeps grazing on the field made me pretty frustrated. No matter how intriguing the world was, the plot was just too mundane, too lackluster, and too insipid for me to enjoy.
So why exactly does this book have so many pages? Oho, that’s a fun one to answer. Instead of a dark fantasy wrought with danger and tension that is advertised in the blurb, we get a bunch of superficial romantic entanglements. In the beginning, everyone makes such a big deal about getting an arranged marriage. I appreciate Aerity in accepting it for the duty of the people, but it was like a whole chapter of arguing. Can I just say: FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS much? While people are getting killed, the royals are still thinking about what THEY want. Figures.
I do think that romance readers will enjoy the ones that happen here. I really thought I would too (it’s pretty much a forbidden romance for almost all the couples) but I just think the execution was exasperating. (Not to mention the insta-attraction that really had no basis.)
It wasn’t proper to be seen outside her chambers in nightclothes, and it was even more uncivilized to be seen barefoot. Aerity didn’t care, driven by some frantic fear for a complete stranger.
I can deal with insta-attraction, but this just seemed too over-the-top, even for me.
She wondered how it would feel to touch him, this lad she hardly knew who intrigued her so.
All this after two to three times of meeting, and with the guy being quite rude towards her.
Paxton, the hunter, is the type of love interest who likes the girl but tries to get her to stay away from him “for her own good.” He didn’t have much redeeming qualities to me. Also, he has a pretty sad past that was probably added to make an excuse for his abominable behavior. And at that point I stopped caring.
Although I didn’t really like Aerity, I didn’t dislike her either. She was just too dull for me to really gather any feelings. The blurb describes her as “a princess willing to risk all to save her people.” By “all,” you mean her potential husband, right? Although I did enjoy what she did in the climax of the book (which was around one to two chapters). That was when there was actually action, and when I finally started to like reading it. It happened around the 92% mark and lasted for about twelve pages. The wrap up at the end to prepare for the second book had me rolling my eyes and happy to have finished it.
The last thing I have to say is that while I did not enjoy it, I believe many other readers will. If you do not mind a fantasy lacking in action and a focus on the dramatastic lives of princesses and hunters and soldiers, I’d recommend this. If you, however, are like me and are seeking adventure and characters that give you major feels, skip this.
Rating: 1 out of 5