A Russian retelling of Beauty and the Beast where the Dark Forest is as much alive as any person and the Beast is not as he seems.
I'm a total sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings. It is my favorite fairy tale, and always has been. If any book is billed as similar, I'm in. This one is a little different than the others, in the sense that Beauty (Yeva) is strong, independent, and a very talented hunter. She initially meets the beast by hunting him with the intent to kill him for the death of her father. She is the most strong-willed Beauty that I've come across, Feyre (from ACOTAR) included. The Beast is approached differently as well- he's centuries old, and has a duality about him- both man and beast, vying for the same body. The other glaring difference is the pacing. Good lord, the pacing. It's possible that we're spoiled with two hour versions of this story, and that's why it seemed like this book just dragged every. Single. Thing. Out. Like William Shatner reciting Rocket Man. To say the romance is a slow burn is a bit of an understatement. It's really her that's holding back- the Beast falls in love with Yeva much sooner than she even realizes she has feelings for him at all other than unbridled rage. That part was exceedingly frustrating. When she leaves him (really, no spoiler here, because if you know even the Disney version, she does this) she does so for WEEKS. And you feel it. Maybe it's because you're waiting for the story to come to its inevitable end, but actually felt myself saying out loud, "Get on with it." I also think Spooner, in an effort to set her tale apart, jammed way too many things in here- Russian folklore, and the fact that Beauty had to actually go on a quest at the end, and go through three trials. She tells the Beast the same Russian folk tale TWICE. In great detail. I'm wondering if she was shooting for a specific word count. I understand it was paralleling hers and the Beast's journey, and "Oh, look at the similarities! I'm such a fabulous writer!" We get it. You don't need to beat me upside the head with Ivan's tale.
It's time for the good things. The ending. My favorite part of any Beauty and the Beast retelling. I must have listened to the last ten minutes of the audiobook 3 times. Well done, and THANK YOU for the epilogue, Miss Spooner. Also, the excerpts written from the Beast's point of view were a fantastic addition. His duality, his animal and human battling, was beautifully done- and I fell for him long before Yeva did. Without spoiling anything, the whole Firebird metaphor. Yeva's faithful dog, Doe Eyes. The Beast's magical forest, where every animal had its own music. All these things kept me listening and held me at rapt attention, even if the story dragged.
If you're a huge fan of BatB retellings, I would recommend this to you. If not, I might give this a pass. It's the pure love of the tale and the characters that leads me to give this a 4. Call me biased.
Spellbinding, captivating and lyrical, “Hunted” reminds you of the forceful power of old fairy tales, of those ancient stories steeped in wonder, trickery and occasionally bathed in gore.
Ms. Spooner places her version of “Beauty and the Beast” in a Russian setting. She also gives the story a twist by combining it with the noviny “The Firebird” which features one of those foolish, chuckleheaded princes who flub everything by failing to heed advice but still manage to win the princess and the fortune.
Yeva is contemptuous of such a prince, which is all in keeping with her nature. Here is a woman who doesn’t yearn for a rich husband, a glittering palace or the company of high society. This take on “Beauty and the Beast” features a lovely lass who is only fully alive when she’s traipsing through the forest, plying her hunting skills and knowing the land around her as well as the back of her hand.
No simpering animated maiden, she. She’s not off singing to the birds or having wild animals do her favors or perform household tasks. Yeva is more likely to shoot and kill a partridge, duck or rabbit than sing to it. She’s tough, hardy, resourceful, skilled, resilient and primed for vengeance against the monster she believes has killed her beloved father.
The novel is stealthy with how it leads its reader and its Beauty through the tangled maze of the Beast’s minds, teasing out its story and motivations little by little. Happiness too isn’t necessarily on the menu; the chase for joy is shown to be as elusive, treacherous and crippling as the search for truth can be.
“Hunted” brims with a wild and yearning fierceness at its core, as both Beauty and Beast hunt their bliss. This is a re-interpretation of a classic with glory and heartache to spare. Whether you love or loathe Disney princesses, this novel is one to be savored.
I felt like there was something just not quite complete about the romance. It felt like there were scenes missing from the development of it. The pacing of the relationship was sort of all over the place, and in the middle the story dragged a bit. I'm not sure Yeva's character really went through as much development as she should have; she still felt like the same character at the end of the novel as she did at the beginning.
There were also times when the novel matched up with the Disney film too much. It had some of the same scenes and while I can recognize the need for them character-wise, I'm still undecided on their inclusion.
The prose was lovely and dreamy in a fairy-tale way with some really nice lines in places, though.
Still, it's a fresh take on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and that's not something I get to say a lot.
A nice retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" that literally keeps you turning the pages, until way later than your bedtime. Sometimes though I feel like fairytale retellings don't get enough credit for their own spins, while other times I hate the repetition and "attempts" that unsuccessfully try and change the ideas behind. It's a weird, two sided argument. Regardless, this book appealed to both sides fairly, while keeping feelings realistic and not overdoing "love" in its fantastical image. I definitely liked the ending where everything picked up, the pages got bloody, and the story came together at the close. Cute!
- @Siri of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library
An interesting retelling - though I found parts hard to believe.
for example- when Beauty becomes ill she is taken to a comfortable room to recover, but asked to keep a blindfold on. Readers are expected she is able to keep the blindfold in place awake and asleep for several weeks, and able to fetch arrows with it on. She is also able to keep herself entertained, still while blindfolded by fetching arrows and telling stories to Beast.
My biggest problem was the creating on The Beast-a mix of both man and magical wolf. Why is the wolf pulled into the man's punishment, he didn't do anything wrong. Why would the curse be cast, and the victim left to learn from it, but not have anyway to break it? The whole breaking of the curse, and how it works out left too many questions for me
This is a lovely Beauty and the Beast retelling, with nods to the original tale and the Disneyfied bits. Like all good retellings, it has something to say (beyond the story itself) about life. I'm still puzzling it out, in this case- there's something in there about yearning for more and how settling for less than what fulfills you turns you into something not quite whole, restless and unhappy. And that resonated. There was also a lot of not knowing what you want until you find it and then you aren't fully happy without it- no big revelation moments, which kept it from being cheesy, and it puts the romance emphasis not on wooing but on knowing yourself. And THAT is something I am very in support of.
The story takes place in medieval-ish Russia, which lends an air of exoticness even though it's a very familiar tale for most of us. And there's a nice blending of reality and magical realism, bolstered by Beauty's personality, which is big on "just accept what your instincts are telling you". Makes sense, from a hunting perspective, that she's not constantly trying to overlay a worldview onto whatever she sees, and also accounts for her dissatisfaction with those that do shut their senses in favor of their chosen construct.
Overall, I recommend it for fans of Beauty and the Beast, fairytale retellings, fierce female MCs, and fast-paced stories (I read 80% of this in one day- it's a fast, easy read).
One of the most incredible Beauty and the Beast adaptations I've ever read, with a depth and nuance to it that I didn't think was possible for a story that's been told so many times. My heart ached for Yeva and the Beast both, and the moments of realization that took place for each of them were just exquisite. If i have any complaints about the book, it's that we don't see enough of the Beast after he becomes human. Those moments could have been drawn out a bit more, but I also understand why they weren't. Overall, an incredible take on the classic, one I would recommend to anyone who loves YA fantasy, or just plain good storytelling.
Meagan Spooner's work has long been a favorite of mine (if you haven't read the Starbound series she co-authored with Amie Kaufman, do it NOW). Personally, I'm not a fan of Beauty and the Beast, but I will read anything Spooner writes, so I got excited (especially when I heard that Yeva, our Beauty character, was going to be a fighter and a confident, strong heroine).
As you may have guessed, I loved it. Spooner is amazing at writing, and the style and beauty of the words sucked me in immediately. It doesn't take too long to get into the heart of the story, and the style is such that you can barely keep track of the passing of time, even when there's not actually that much going on. Too, the way she wraps everything together makes you realize that the entire book is full of importance, that that paragraph you skimmed to get to the Beast's next appearance was actually a very integral moment! I loved it! It's the first book I've read in a day since...well, forever.
All the characters are so well-rounded and wonderful. It's easy to see the growth of not only Yeva and the Beast, but her sisters and some of the townsfolk as well. And there was a perfect level of setting description, not to heavy, but enough to set the scene and really immerse you in the story. I would suggest this book to both Beauty and the Beast fans and those who really just want a strong fantasy with great characters and a quick, satisfying progression.
All the characters are so well-rounded and wonderful. It's easy to see the growth of not only Yeva and the Beast, but her sisters and some of the townsfolk as well. And there was a perfect level of setting description, not to heavy, but enough to set the scene and really immerse you in the story. I would suggest this book to both Beauty and the Beast fans and those who really just want a strong fantasy with great characters and a quick, satisfying progression
Hunted introduces a vivid new fantasy world; however, it's light on the romance.
Plot: Yeva and her family lived comfortably until a robbery uprooted them from a life of luxury. At their father's declining health, Yeva took on the responsibility of feeding her two older sisters until she encountered a creature deep in the forest. Hunted captured the spirit of the fairytale and Spooner's spin on the fairytale had its own curious mythology that held my attention. I loved that Spooner was able to tell this tale in one novel, it felt complete but also left me wanting more for this world.
Characters: Yeva intrigued me from her introduction in the first chapter. Her selflessness and desire to protect her family spoke to me and I enjoyed watching her grapple with her confusing feelings toward the Beast and his world. While the story of Beauty and the Beast is inherently romantic, I did not get the feeling that Yeva and Beast's relationship was a whirlwind of emotions and soul-crushing love. I expected Beauty's time with Beast to engage me the most, instead, I found myself devouring the chapters that highlighted Yeva with her family.
Worldbuilding: Spooner mentioned that she would be writing a fairytale companion to Hunted and I am most excited to return to this world. Spooner's take on the original tale was unique and it complemented her world quite well.
Short N Sweet: While Hunted was a well-rounded novel, it was missing the impactful love story I was expecting.
blue_dog_8329 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over
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