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tsc5 The Hunt (TSC #5) by Aubrey Clark | Rating: ★★★☆☆

In a surprising turn, The Hunt improves on the mess that was The Divide and almost, almost, almost echos the original trilogy in tone and suspense. Not quite, but at least it’s an improvement. Just not enough to save this hot mess before it falls flat once more because honestly, that’s all it did–it will build readers up only to drop them in a pile of boring mush.

In some ways, Aubrey Clark almost resembles L.J. Smith in heart and prose this time around; far more than she did previously.

So original readers will at least have that to rejoice in, if they should decide to continue the series. But that’s about all it has going for it. We have a few heartbreaking moments in this installment as well as a couple times were it is almost terrifying to see what can happen next.

Especially the ending! If there’s one thing that made my rating go up a bit for this installment, it’s the ending and the spooky tone it took on in one full twist.

But enough of that.

Let’s start with the basics. Cassie Blake is now on the hunt for answers and spells to take her half-sister, Scarlett down a few pegs before she inevitably kills her. Even worse, the witch hunters that moved to town are making it their mission to destroy the circle and mark its members for death.

At least they can stay safe in a mysterious safe room in Cassie’s home and so long as they don’t take necessary risks, chances are they will be okay. We know already that they’re never going to be quite out of the dark when it comes to their abilities and strengths, but at least it’s something.

If the circle doesn’t band together and find a way to stop both of the enemies, they’re as good as dead. And for one person, that’s just what happens.

During an altercation we lose a member of the circle–our beloved Suzan Wittier.

I was so sad by this because Suzan is just a little cupcake and didn’t deserve to die. I liked that in that final moment she showed how much she loved the circle and her friends by sacrificing herself for another. I felt a bit protective towards her, too, because ugh--L.J. Smith wouldn't have wanted that, I don't think. It was crazy seeing a character killed off like that.

This loss impacts the group in many ways. First of all, they lost their friend and now the circle is unbound because of it. In order to keep the circle bound, they must find another member and initiate them. Unfortunately it has to come from the person who dies bloodline.

And in yet another predictable eye roll twist, the only person who fits that would be Scarlett, who is related to both Cassie and Suzan. Even more ridiculously, the group initiates her even if they don’t like her.

I mean? On what planet would they have actually agreed to this? Any of them? Once more, it's like Clark doesn't know what she is doing with this series and has no touch of any of the characters.

That being said, of course Scarlett has motives of her own. And now that Cassie knows she not only wants to destroy her and her circle, but also take Adam from her because apparently they share the same silver cord that bounds soulmates together than Cassie and Adam do, things grow more and more strained between the two.

Not long after the initiation, Cassie is forced to watch as Scarlett tosses her on her ass once more and betrays the circle by bringing by some of their ancestors. Cassie and Scarlett come from a line of many, many dark witches and now they are brought back to life and are using Cassie’s friends as their own possession.

That’s right: the circle has been taken over and her friends are no longer her friends.

In other news: Diana is now into Max and Max is questioning his father’s ways of life. Max becomes something of an ally even though he betrayed Faye and marked her. Also, apparently Max and Diana are soulmates. And to add in a bit more angst, during the spell that causes the Blak ancestors to come back to life, Max’s father dies and Max is kind of back to being their enemy.

(Although we know that won’t last because #soulmates.)

Cassie struggles with her feelings towards Nick, her slowly deteriorating relationship with Adam (which suffers because of his possible connection to Scarlett) and seems to be back on track when it comes to her friendship with Diana. But worst of all is that her dad’s spell book is sparking something dark inside her and she doesn’t quite know what to make of it.

The story ends with Scarlett getting her circle and Cassie only narrowly escaping the danger of it all.

But is this really the end of Cassie’s friends and their circle? Or can she find a way to bring out her ancestors and get her friends back before it’s too late?

At least one thing is for certain: Cassie is as determined as ever and will not give up on defeating Scarlett and her evil relatives. She will get her friends back. But how?

Overall, it really was better than The Divide but it was a far cry from good. I think my favorite parts in this one were Diana being a bit more like herself and falling in love, as well as making up with Cassie and being almost like old times between the two. I liked the ending, too, as the circle is possessed–I mean, my skin was tingling from it and the whole “Cassandra” business.

I also loved seeing Nick and Cassie interact more. I know it’s not going to be endgame but I always did like the two together and I hope we see more of that. I also liked seeing the parallels between Cassie and Scarlett and the glimpses of dark magic in her.

Needless to say, Alloy, I love you guys but do not appreciate what you did to Smith or her works–what a terrible way to show your appreciation for an author who created a series profit for you. This installment, like the previous one, is just like a boring fanfiction of the original series and I'm rolling my eyes at you and your lack of respect.

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