The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
Published by HarperCollins on March 8th 2016
Genres: Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
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Wendy Higgins, the author of the New York Times bestselling Sweet Evil series, reimagines a classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale with The Great Hunt, a dramatic, romance-filled fantasy with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.
When a monstrous beast attacks in Eurona, desperate measures must be taken. The king sends a proclamation to the best and bravest hunters: whoever kills the creature will win the hand of his daughter Princess Aerity as a reward. The princess recognizes her duty but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger—she was meant to marry for love—until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. And while there’s no denying the fiery chemistry between them, Princess Aerity feels that Paxton’s mysteriousness is foreboding, maybe even dangerous.
Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He is 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 secrets he’s buried begin to surface against his wishes.
“Everything will be all right, Mama. Father will figure something out.”
Yikes. I really didn’t want to write another 1-star review for a highly-anticipated YA fantasy/retelling, but this book takes a dark, twisted fairy tale and turns it into a romancefest with some of the weakest female characters I’ve ever read about.
The Great Hunt is based on the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Singing Bone”, which is about a vicious beast that terrorizes a kingdom, and the darkest side of sibling rivalries. And yet, this book is not really about that at all.
The book opens with mentions of the beast murdering innocent people and we are treated to a dramatic scene where Wyneth loses her “great love” as he bravely faces down the creature. Unsure what else to do, the King promises his daughter to the man who can kill the beast.
This summary is also very similar to the first part of “The Singing Bone”, and yet the stories diverge greatly after that. Where the original focuses on the brothers and the killing of the beast, this instead focuses on Princess Aerity, Wyneth and their affections for certain competitors.
“Now she found herself staring unabashedly from her window at Paxton Seabolt, wishing she had a seaman’s scope so she could peer closer.”
With lots of flushing, heated moments and hot douche-y boys, unromantic readers should steer clear of this book. And believe me when I say: there is little else to find. It’s a superficial read that shows young damsels in distress falling over themselves for boys defined by their physical hotness.
I found it really difficult to take the characters seriously. Wyneth supposedly loses her “great love” and yet she is flirting with and kissing another guy shortly after (who is a douche, by the way). And Aerity falls for Paxton – a playboy and an asshole who’s had lots of “easy” girls but, of course, none of them were serious.
“He’s simply not the marrying type. The women he’s been known to fraternize with are . . . well . . .” She looked back and forth between the royal girls’ waiting faces. “Not exactly innocents.”
The more he is mean and insulting to her, the more Aerity seems to be obsessed with Paxton. While this might be an unfortunate realistic portrait of some young women’s abusive relationships, this is not the kind of romance I want to read about. Also, I almost threw the book at the wall when Paxton joked about domestic violence. Someone needs to burn that out of the final publication because it’s not fucking funny.
Higgins does try to add a twist of female empowerment by allowing some of the competitors to be a group of female hunters (Aerity is instead promised to a man from their village), but they remain undeveloped and it doesn’t quite work with the rest of the story.
I can only recommend this for readers who enjoy romance stories with asshole love interests.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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