Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: The Great Hunt

The Great Hunt
By: Wendy Higgins
Published by: HarperTeen
Release date: March 8, 2016
Genre: YA fantasy
416 pages
Source: galley kindly provided by publisher

This book had me at the tag line on the cover, I confess. I love a good magical adventure, with brave hunters facing a terrible foe. I remember being intrigued about the "win the girl" line; I wondered if the girl wanted to be won, after all. The word "Great" in the title could have referred to something exceptionally good, or exceptionally large, or simply exceptional. With all of these questions, I had to read and find out.

The kingdom of Lochlanach has all the trappings of a typical fairy tale land, with a dash of modern sensibility. The royal family live in a castle, dress in finery, and have servants at their beck and call. The king believes in marrying for love, however, and has done so himself with a commoner. The royal children have been raised to be respectful of all people, even the Lashed, who the rest of the kingdom blame for much evil and difficulty. The Lashed are magical folk, so named for the dark lash marks that appear on their finger nails when they use their magic. Their magic is outlawed, and the Lashed have learned to avoid using it, thereby avoiding detection and persecution.

When a great beast begins attacking and killing people in the night, the kingdom is gripped with fear and loss. The king uses every weapon at his disposal to no avail. With his back against the wall, he is forced to require his daughter to make a significant sacrifice- her freedom of choice- in the hopes that the kingdom can be rid of this deadly beast.

I really enjoyed tracing the modern parenting attitudes through this fairy tale retelling. Parents will generally sacrifice for their children, and the notion that a parent might have to ask their child to make the sacrifice is, at best, uncomfortable to consider. The lovely princess does so with grace and honor, though it pains her heart to know that the odds are against her getting what she really desires.

There are several candidates to choose from, if one is looking for a new book boyfriend. Several of the young ladies in the book set their sights on one of the hunters who seek to kill the beast, even though it's clear that whoever succeeds in slaying the creature will claim the prize of Princess Aerity's hand in marriage. I favor Paxton Seabolt, as the princess does. His resolve to do what's best for his family is a gold star in his favor, but what seals the deal is that his willingness to sacrifice for the good of others is equal to, or more than, that of Aerity. Paxton is a model of honor, courage, and humility. He earned my heart each time he chose to help another, even though he knew that it would likely chip away at his own hope for a happy future.

I read 80% of this book ravenously. When it became clear that this initial book wasn't going to give me as much resolution as I was hoping for, I slowed a bit- but I still very much enjoyed the journey, and will return to see what happens in the sequel.

Kill the beast. Win the girl.

A strange beast stirs fear in the kingdom of Lochlanach, terrorizing towns with its brutality and hunger. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity understands her duty to the kingdom though it pains her to imagine marrying a stranger. It would be foolish to set her sights on any particular man in the great hunt, but when a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention, there’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not keen on marriage. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast and protecting his family—yet Princess Aerity continues to challenge his notions with her unpredictability and charm. But as past secrets collide with present desires, dire choices threaten everything Paxton holds dear.

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale, “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, outlawed magic, and a princess willing to risk all to save her people.


  1. OOoh nice! I am so very much looking forward to this one! I initially thought it was going to be a Beauty and the Beast type retelling with that tagline, but finding out otherwise! It's based off another Grimm tale that I might have to reread! Great review!!

    1. Thanks, Jessica! I thought so, too. I was not at all disappointed to discover that I was wrong.


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