Photo from @beautifulbookland on Instagram
Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Beauty and the Beast has always held a special place in my heart. It was my favourite Disney princess film as a child, and when I was in hospital, I would watch it every other day, alternating with 101 Dalmatians, as a source of comfort. So while I adore the films, I’m always simultaneously thrilled and terrified when a new Beauty and the Beast retelling comes out (especially after A Court of Thorns and Roses raised the bar so high).
For the first 150 pages or so of Hunted, I thought this book was going to be a dead loss. I mean, it was okay. But I didn’t really appreciate the graphic hunting scenes (come on people, can we get one YA fantasy book that doesn’t include ripping animals up? Help a veggie out), and I wasn’t entirely sure how much I liked Yeva. But she, like the book, grew on me.
The ending made my little heart sing.
The Plot After her father loses their fortune, himself, Yeva and her sisters move to his hunting cabin in the woods. There, he becomes obsessed with hunting the Beast; nothing will get in his way, not even his daughters begging him to stay with them. When one of their hunting dogs returns without their father in tow, Yeva follows the tracks – to their father’s dismembered corpse, and also to the Beast.
Because this wouldn’t be that great of a story if Beauty just killed the Beast and went on her merry way, obviously the Beast manages to overpower Yeva, knocks her out, and takes her back with him to his castle.
Information is sort of given out sparsely at first, and we can only piece together little things about what the Beast’s deal is, and what he wants with Yeva in the first place.
The Characters The characters in Hunted really grew on me. I actually didn’t even know how much I liked them until I finished the book.
Yeva is definitely not a storybook princess. She’s independent, and prefers to spend her time in the woods, hunting. What she does share with Belle, however, is the wanting. The wanting of something bigger and better, without really being sure of what it is that she wants. I really appreciated that theme, and Meagan explores it really well with both Yeva and the Beast.
The Beast is cruel and ruthless initially, and I really appreciated the little snippets that we got of his thoughts and feelings, and about how he warmed to Yeva over time – but also fought that feeling.
I also appreciated Yeva’s family; specifically, her two older sisters, who aren’t the typical jealous and callous sisters that you usually find in a fairy tale. They are both supportive and loving with Yeva, even when it could cost them their own happiness.
The Romance Okay, if you’re wanting a romantic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it is definitely not this book. There’s no physical affection shown until literally the last few pages.
However, if you’re looking for an emotional connection, a slow-building I didn’t realise I needed them until they were gone sort of thing, then you might want to give this a go. I loved how present Yeva was within their relationship; she didn’t just wake up one day and think that the sun shone out of the Beast’s arse, she realised that what she was feeling was bizarre and wrong, and she tries to kill the Beast a good three times.
Who needs Gaston and his gang when our Belle is so bloodthirsty?The Verdict I’m honestly so pleased that I stuck with it, because it really is a beautifully written portrayal of the story that we all know and love. The world building is so gorgeous and detailed, you can practically feel the snow falling around you and crunching beneath your feet. You can practically see your breath fogging before you.
(It also helps when you’re reading this book in December in England, because it’s absolutely bloody freezing, but let’s not take anything away from the writing, okay?)