Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
Release Date: March 14, 2017
I’m a sucker for retelling. I freaking adore them (as long as I’m familiar with some other version of the tale). Prior to this, I’ve read three different Beauty and the Beast retellings. I liked only one of them, and that was a very cheesy version. This is most likely my favorite. But not just because I wasn’t the biggest fan of two of the previous ones, but also because it’s actually really good.
I finished reading this book about six days ago and have managed to kind of forget the things I didn’t like about the novel. But not to worry, I’ll remember while I’m writing the review. Until then, lets focus on the positives.
Hunted is more about the symbolic meaning behind the story and I really liked the way that was done. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with direct-ish scenes from fairytales (the ‘wolf impersonating grandma’ scene in Scarlet was clever and epic) but I like symbolic cleverness as well.
It’s inspired by the original French version, seeing as Beauty’s father loses all his wealth in the beginning and the family (including Beauty’s two older sisters) is forced to move to a cabin near the woods. There are other similarities, but those might be spoiler-y. The different element is that her father is a hunter who becomes obsessed with hunting a monster in the woods and when he goes missing, Beauty goes to find him.
Where it’s similar to the Disney movie (or maybe some other version, there are a lot of them) is Beauty’s desire to have more, to be more. In the movie, Belle reads book. Here, Beauty (or Yeva, her actual name) hunts and explores. But it’s the same thing. Both Yeva and Belle want an adventure.
Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that this ticks the retelling box big time. Which is very important to me.
It also checks the well-written box and the interesting box and the un-put-down-able box; I read it in two sittings. I really liked the characters with their peculiar flaws and their surprising humanity. The topic of human contentment, how we always want more, is brilliantly featured.
Where there were problems… there was a secret that we, the reader, were told early on. And the author always dropped hints for Yeva about the secret in a way that made it seem as if she should have guessed it. They were not obvious hints, but written in a way that made you think Beauty was stupid or something. And I was like, why is the author trying to make Beauty look dumb? There could have been a simple solution, either don’t tell the reader, make the hints less hint-y, or make the protagonist smarter.
The other problem was a little section before the end, when things winded down for a bit. There were a few chapters of playing house that made me impatient and annoyed. I get that it was a nod to the French tale, but still, couldn’t they have been shorter?
Overall, this review seems like a disjointed mess to me, but I’m hoping I made the point I was trying to make. This is a very good novel, both on its own and as a retelling. I was quite surprised by it and I highly recommend checking it out.
P.S. Also inspired by Russian folklore but since I know next-to-nothing about that, I’m refraining from commenting.