Hunted by Meagan Spooner | Rating: ★★★★☆
A copy of this novel was provided through Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
I'm a sucker for fairytale retellings. I'm an even bigger sucker for the types of retellings that sprinkle in fresh takes on standard tales and a whole lot of mythology. I find there just isn't enough in terms of re-imagining Beauty and The Beast. At least, not many that I like. In the case of Hunted, Meagan Spooner tells a tale that is instantly classic and new to our eyes--a lot of twists and turns, it's very high stakes and action packed, and also smart. I liked knowing what was going to happen but seeing it unfold in a way that is newer to me.
That's what sets Hunted apart from its counterparts--you can guess a lot of the twists but they don't necessarily play out exactly as you'd think. Then there's the characters and the way Spooner works around tropes and plots that could have been utterly clichéd and dully familiar. Let's take our newly rediscovered Beauty, Yeva. She is very much like her fairytale counterpart but with a few notable differences. I liked that she was a hunter and full of strength and a bit of vulnerability. I.E: she is real and far from one dimensional.
Spooner writes the characteristics of Beauty in a way that is intelligent and warm and there's no denying this. Watching as she grows in such a short amount of time (or in some ways, rediscovers herself and her love of the wild) was a privilege and if you need only one reason to read Hunted, it's Beauty. I do think Yeva is one of my favourites when it comes to fairytale retellings and Spooner did a beautiful job adapting her for this story. I loved seeing the way she plans and takes care of everyone and eventually, herself.
Adding in the trait of a hunters heart was an incredibly smart move and amps up Yeva while setting her apart from most takes on the tale. It's also what makes finding Beast far more interesting and different that the same plots we are used to. All the while, it keeps up that similar air of connection that we'd all expect when it comes to the story.
This isn't to say that Hunted is without flaws--like any piece of fiction, it has them. But there's so minor and easy to overlook for the good, it sets across a balance and doesn't distract from the original tales and Spooner's spin of things. Meagan Spooner's writing is light and detailed--a combination that is frankly lacking in other novels in the genre.
Overall, Hunted is an incredibly fast paced take on a familiar tale that will leave YA fans on the edge of their seat. Spooner knows exactly what she's doing and will earn quite a lot of praise for this one--rightfully so. If you're skeptical of retellings, I think that--ultimately--this will be one that you can enjoy with your whole head and heart.