Blurb 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?
And here’s yet another of my highly anticipated retelling that just turned out to be such a disappointment. Hunted has the finest ingredients for a retelling—Beauty and the Beast mixed with a number of interesting Russian tales—but still it lacked flavor. The whole thing was quite dull. Its characters were flat. The world was even flatter. The plot sticks very closely to the Beauty and the Beast story. And because I prefer my retellings to venture a bit further from the original tale, I didn’t find this very interesting. It simply lacked the twists and the pull to make it different from the original. And it was so slow, I was bored to tears.
I usually don’t have problems with slow-paced books as long as their reason for being slow is:
A.) It is trying to build a solid world for me to enjoy.
B.) It is focused on giving depth to the characters to make me want to care for them.
This book did none of those. The world-building was so vague but I don’t think it’s with the writing because I quite liked Spooner’s writing style. I think it wouldn’t be hard to picture a world with her writing if only there were enough details given for me to visualize. There isn’t much detail with regards to the world in this book except that it snowed a lot and that our main protagonist, Yeva, used to live in luxury with her family and later moved to a cabin in the woods after her father’s downfall. Then there’s the Beast who lives in a crumbling castle in the middle of the woods. I’m assuming that this castle is somehow warded by magic because it’s so hard to find but… so easy to find? Okay, hell, that was confusing. But that’s it for world-building.
The characters weren’t carefully realized either. I couldn’t connect with any of them—not the Beast, or Yeva, or Yeva’s sisters. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about whatever the hell happens to them because it doesn’t feel like they’re in any real danger. Well, I liked Asenka a little but that too was gone as I go deeper into the book. Heaven knows I’m tired of characters who refuses to see the obvious just because they have the tendencies of a martyr. And there’s Solmir who could have easily been the answer to all of Yeva’s problems when he proposed marriage. I kind of wished that Yeva would end up with Solmir instead of the Beast in the end. That would have been a unique twist to this old fairytale. But no! After reading this book I realized that Solmir’s character wasn’t even necessary. Ugh!
I love hunters and huntresses for protagonists but I just couldn’t feel Yeva. The book keeps telling me that she’s a skilled hunter, fierce, and brave. But there was no reason for me to believe that. It takes more than just “telling” me if you want me buy it. You have to “show” me how skilled she is! Did I really see her hunting a real game? No. It would have been less boring if there were some little hunting action in the story.
Remember when I said this book lacked flavor? Damn right! Because it’s missing one important element—a villain. The Beast took that role at the beginning of the book by “trying” to be the bad guy—holding Yeva captive, locking her in a dark cell, forcing her to hunt for him by threatening to kill her family if she doesn’t. But we all know what the Beasts’ role truly is. He can’t really be a villain, can he? Personally, I think Yeva and the Beast had it easy in this one. How can it be so hard when there was no evil force—no powerful witch or dangerous talisman—to stop them from breaking the curse? And there wasn’t even a rush in breaking it! Why hurry when there’s actually no grave consequences if they delayed that task for a year, eh? See now why this is so boring?
But those aren’t my biggest issue with this book. My biggest issue is with the romance that I couldn’t give a fuck about because it wasn’t romantic at all. If anything it was creepy and unconvincing and there was too little of it that seem to just come out of nowhere. Not for one second was I convinced that Yeva’s and Beast’s feelings towards each other were genuine. One moment Yeva was determined to kill the Beast. The next moment she was suddenly in love with him? It felt like they only fell in love because that is what’s supposed to happen in fairytales.
The ending was… super anti-climactic. It lacks magic. For a world filled with magical creatures, the ending was very plain, very simple, and quick. It didn’t even had much of a fight! The worst thing is I have long predicted the twists that were supposed to shock me.
It pains me to say that I’m massively disappointed in this book. I didn’t like it. I wish I could turn back time and skip this. Don’t let my opinion of this book stop you from reading it though, especially if this has been on your highly anticipated list. But for me, it just didn’t work.
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