BOOK REVIEW : Hunted
By Meagan Spooner
BY SULPHIA IQBAL
I’d like to first thank HarperTeen for the ARC version of this book.
Hunted was on my list of most anticipated YA novels of 2017 and it did not fail to impress. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with mentions and incorporations of Russian folktales Tsarevitch Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf, The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa, and Vasilisa the Beautiful.
Yeva, or as her father likes to call her Beauty, aches to ditch her aristocratic life in the city to hunt in the forest with her father, just like they had when she was younger. After her father loses all of his fortune, Yeva’s family is forced to move back to their winter home in the outskirts of town. Yeva is secretly glad : finally she can hunt alongside her father. Yeah….except this is YA and obviously things aren’t going to be so happily ever after.
When her father goes missing after a hunting trip, Yeva, despite the protests of her sisters, decides to go after him. When she discovers his corpse, she makes it her goal to find the creature responsible for his death - the same creature her father was obsessing over before he left. But soon, Yeva finds herself captured, put in a cell, and concealed from seeing the face of her captor.
Yeva was a very developed character. Her genuine love for hunting and the wilderness, her distaste for the aristocratic ways of the higher class - definitely a refreshing change from the original Beauty and the Beast. I also enjoyed the side characters like Yeva’s sisters and Solmir aka Gaston. Gaston’s character was completely different, not made out to be the villain like he was in the Disney version, and I actually came to like him.
Unsurprisingly, when reading the reviews for this book, I noticed Stockholm syndrome come up. I haven’t seen many works of literature or entertainment with this condition to fully understand what it means , but based on this:
I believe Yeva did not have Stockholm syndrome. Throughout the book, she does not create a psychological alliance with the Beast, rather she puts up with what she’s told to do so she can eventually kill him as revenge for supposedly killing her father. It wasn’t a strategy that her mind just came up with as a means of survival; she deliberately chose to do this all while fully being aware that Beast was potentially dangerous and untrustable. Her change in attitude towards Beast is conscious and slow, and only shows after Beast himself changes his ways. And like Belle, Yeva actually wanted to leave, and she does. When she returns, it is not to be his prisoner, but to help him as she senses he is in danger.
That all said, I think Spooner did an excellent job of incorporating this enthralling classic with feminism, independence, and her own little Russian twist.
“To the girl
who reads by flashlight
who sees dragons in the clouds
who feels most alive in worlds that never were
who knows magic is real
This is for you”
“If you’re reading this book, then you’re also that child reading by flashlight and dreaming of other worlds. Don’t be scared of her, that inner Beauty, or her dreams. Let her out. She’s you, and she’s me, and she’s magic.”
An enthralling retelling of Russian folktales and Beauty and the Beast
Check it out at the library and goodreads :