Author: Wendy Higgins
Publication: HarperTeen (March 8, 2016)
Description: 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.
My Thoughts: Once I got over the idea that a king would offer his daughter's hand in marriage to the hunter who managed to kill the great beast that was terrorizing his kingdom, I enjoyed this epic fantasy that seems to be the first book in a trilogy. Aerity has been raised to rule but she has also been raised as the daughter of a love match. Her mother was a circus performer before she married the king. But the king is desperate to save his kingdom and no one has been able to kill this beast who is roaming the land.
The land is interesting too because it is inhabited by a despised minority called the Lashed who have the ability to do magic. Since an uprising in a nearby kingdom by a Lashed man who wanted to overthrow the government and murdered a number of people to try to get his way, all Lashed have been in danger. Whenever anything goes wrong, the Lashed are blamed and are often hunted down and killed. The exception in Aerity's kingdom is one Lashed who serves the royal family. Aerity hates the treatment of the Lashed but needs to follow her father's laws.
Back to the hunt . . . after the king's proclamation goes out, a number of hunters from a number of kingdoms come to the castle to try to slay the beast and win Aerity's hand. Among the hunters are Paxton and Tiern Seabolt. Tiern is an open-hearted young man just Aerity's age. Paxton is his older, more serious brother. There was a love-at-first-sight moment when Aerity first catches Paxton's eye across the courtyard where the hunters have gathered. Despite his interest in her, Paxton needs to keep her at arm's length because he is a young man with a secret.
The crowd of hunters is quickly winnowed down as the beast is very formidable. There are lots of scenes as the hunters try to find and slay the beast. There is natural rivalry among the hunters both because they are from different countries, and because only one man can win Aerity's hand. One of the good candidates would prefer to have a relationship with Aerity's cousin and another - Tiern - is smitten by Aerity's younger sister.
I enjoyed this story despite the lack of a happily ever after ending. In fact, the ending leads me to believe that there are more books planned. Fantasy lovers will enjoy this story and be looking forward to more in the series.
He knew enough about her now to know she had a good heart, despite the evils of her ancestry. But if she knew . . . if she really knew everything there was to know about Paxton, he believed she'd surely shun him.I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.