Hunted by Meagan Spooner

4/5 Stars
Published by HarperTeen
Published March 14th, 2017

Synopsis: 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?

This Beauty and the Beast retelling knocked my socks off. The only other book I have read that is co-written by Meagan Spooner is These Broken Stars, which I had a very difficult time getting into. Hunted was the exact opposite for me - I could not put it down. Meagan Spooner's writing is pure eloquence and sophistication. The detailing is so vivid and life-like, the scenes unfurling around you like a boat's sail. It is haunting and mysterious, yet full of innocence, power, and elegance amongst the slightest touch of the darkest themes. I thought Spooner's twist on this classic tale was executed excellently and is by far one of the best Beauty and the Beast retellings on the market. Not only is this one of the best books I've read this year, but it has me even more excited for Unearthed which comes out in 2018!
My favorite aspects of Hunted are the characters and the storytelling. Meagan Spooner is amazing at delivering a story and its subplots at precisely the right moment. She leaves you guessing and wondering what is yet to come, keeping you on the edge of your seat from the moment Yeva enters the forest. From there on out it is nothing but arrow slinging, beast hunting, magical mayhem that is overall so perfect you get lost in the plot. Hunted is told through both Yeva's and the Beast's point of view, giving us insight through a character driven by revenge and through a character compelled by magic and undergoing its course. The difference in the tone of each character's voice is a great addition to the story, as it really shows the affects of the plot through different point of views. Meagan Spooner was able to weave together a story that balanced magic, romance, and suspense. 

I adore this cast of characters and especially our protagonist Yeva. Yeva is a ball of fire - strong, feisty, level-headed, and independent. She is such a natural born leader and it shows when she goes hunting for the beast, searching for her father, and finding the true magic of the forest. Meagan Spooner crafted a character that absolutely commands the page. It is inspiring to see such a driven female protagonist take the initiative to save and avenge her family, while also striving to rescue herself. In addition to Yeva, I thought the Beast was very well written. We know from the classic tale that the Beast is cursed and that is definitely shown through the pained and tortured dialogue provided from his point of view. He is precisely as his name insinuates, - fearsome and formidable - but underneath that hardened exterior, we all know there is a heart of gold that beats underneath. While the dynamic between these two was well established, I especially loved the relationship between Yeva and her sisters and between Yeva and her dog Doe-Eyes. This added a strong sense of familial loyalty that was beautiful to read about.

All in all, Hunted was an intense, graceful read that is not to be overlooked. Meagan Spooner did an excellent job in reworking the original Beauty and the Beast tale by adding her own flavor to the mix. From the magical expanses to the intricately detailed writing, Hunted takes you on a journey through the heart of the Beast's valley and into the mind of the Beast himself.