- The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
Rating: * *
Series: #1 of a duology (followed by The Great Pursuit next year)
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: March 2016
Goodreads synopsis: “Aerity…” Her father paused as if the words he was forming pained him. “I must ask you to sacrifice the promise of love for the sake of our kingdom.”
She could only stare back, frozen.
When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. 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 knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger…until 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 the marrying type. 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—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.
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, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.
I didn’t enjoy the first novel in Wendy Higgins’ other series, ‘Sweet Evil’, but ‘The Great Hunt’ has been on my reading radar for a while and, as a fairytale retelling, it sounded right up my street (I love ‘Uprooted’ by Naomi Novik and ACOMAF by Sarah J Maas). Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have other folklore-inspired novels.
I did really enjoy the first chapter, where Princess Wyneth and her fiance are spending time together in the woods when suddenly they are interrupted by a great beast. It set up a great amount of tension and immediately established a mystical and intriguing atmosphere, and it made me very eager to know more. However, in my opinion, things went downhill from there.
The main aspect of this novel I disliked was that it lacked originality, not so much in the premise but in terms of the way this was carried out and the main characters. It had many elements typical of YA fantasy. There was a love triangle (although this wasn’t as major as in some novels and I was grateful for that). The male lead, Paxton, possessed a secret and was downright rude to the female lead, Aerity, yet she still pined after him in an obsessive and rather pathetic manner. I didn’t particularly like either of these main characters: I felt, in particular, that Aerity could have been much stronger and I thought that Paxton’s brother, Tiern, was much more likeable than Paxton himself was and a much better suitor, with his cheerful disposition. To be honest, Tiern was the only character I liked and connected to in the whole novel.
I also thought that this book was let down by the fact that the villain was not alarming at all and could have done with much more character development. She appeared near to the end of the book and felt very 2D. Additionally, (but this could perhaps just be because I was reading a kindle version), I found the novel frustrating because there seemed to be a few grammatical mistakes in it, like in this sentence where the final apostrophe is in the wrong place: ‘All my life I have prepared, royal girl, to take back what is mine – my family’s, my peoples’.’
Also the ‘were’ in this phrase:
‘The princess, locked hand in hand with her lady cousin, were looking down upon them, appearing worried.’
I found it a bit twee that the two sisters liked the two brothers, as well.
On a more positive note, I would like to finish my review by saying that I did read this book to the end because I did want to know what would ultimately happen, and this is one of the main signs for a good book. I expect that it is one that some people, maybe younger YA readers, would enjoy. However, I do not think that I will be reading the sequel, which comes out next year, mainly because, (aside from the fact that I didn’t enjoy this first novel very much), from the way this book ends, it seems unnecessary and that the plot will be very similar – it is, after all, called ‘The Great Pursuit’ where this one is called ‘The Great Hunt.’