Author: Meagan Spooner
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?
I’m a woman of simple tastes. If you put a book in front of me and tell me it’s a fairy tale retelling, I’m going to read it. Even more so if it’s Beauty and the Beast. There’s only so many ways you can tell the same story, though, so I always go into it with cautious optimism. So far, I’ve yet to be disappointed.
Hunted follows Yeva aka Beauty, as she yearns for something more, though she’s not quite sure what that “more” might be. Her father is a wealthy man, her family well-off, and yet she’s dissatisfied with her life. When disaster strikes and her family loses their wealth, she finds herself happier living a simpler life, away from high society, but there’s still something missing. Things take a turn for the worst after her father goes hunting one day and doesn’t return. Yeva’s craving for more – along with a desperate need to find her father – has her leave her sisters behind in favor of going into the woods. Yeva is driven by wanting, which I found very interesting, since that is what also drives the Beast. Hunted puts a different spin on the Beast’s curse, and I think this might be my favorite version of it.
Minor spoiler ahead.
In this story, the Beast is cursed for wanting, but the curse wasn’t set on him by someone else. Like Yeva, as a human, he always wanted more, but never really knew what that meant. But what’s interesting to me is that the Beast’s wanting became a kind of desperate greed. The more he had, the more he wanted, and that eventually leads him to basically curse himself. In Yeva’s case, she actually does try to be happy and satisfied with what she has, to the point that she comes close to convincing herself more than once to just settle for what’s in front of her. But in a way, that settling also seemed to be a curse for her. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of their stories, and the parallels between them. Unlike in other stories, Beauty and the Beast are equals through most of it in this one. They’re two sides of the same coin.
This story really resonated with me, and I related to Yeva in a way that I haven’t related to another character in a while. As far as incarnations of Beauty go, I think she’s my favorite (and that includes the one I’m named after). If you like fairy tales, this is a must read!