The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins (Eurona Duology #1)
Published March 8, 2016 by HarperTeen, 416 pp.
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.
How goes it?
I want to cry. This summary is A+, but the book fell flat for me. This isn’t dark, well not as dark as I expect dark to be, but rather a light fantasy, and as much as I wanted to root for the Aerity and Paxton, I couldn’t get behind their romance, and the rest of the characters’ relationships with each other.
One of my problems with this is that the hunt is so boring. This is supposed to be the focal point, I think, but half of the hunt is them tracking the beast during the night, and the other half, spending it in the castle’s grounds during the day. It’s uneventful, because even if they did find the beast a few times, nothing ever happens. Hunters are killed, of course, but I feel detached from the characters and what’s happening that even this doesn’t make me happy. Most of the action happens when Aerity and Paxton are near each other, and that’s not what I’m here for! I’m here for a Great Hunt and I can’t believe it’s being sidelined by a lacklustre romance.
Which brings me to the romance. I just don’t buy the attraction between Aerity and Paxton. For one, he was completely inappropriate and rude when they first met. He doesn’t even have the excuse of knowing who she is when they meet, because it’s been announced that she’d be the one marrying the winner, and she was presented to the hunters earlier. Second, they’ve no interaction aside from when she goes down from the palace to interact with the hunters, and hardly have any conversation. It’s mostly her staring at the hunters from afar, and sometimes providing wholesome entertainment – in the form of aerial yoga. They get within 10 feet of each other everyone else ceases to exist because all they’re aware of is each other, and this makes Paxton 10x more grumpy and touchy than usual, and Aerity to just basically lose her head, which is odd, because the rest of the time, she’s actually practical, and knows that first and foremost, she is a princess who is supposed to do her part for the kingdom. And I respect that. When her father makes the decision to offer her hand in marriage as a reward, she’s calm, she isn’t hysterical, but she is also understandably sad by the choice taken away from her.
There’s also her cousin, Wyneth, and her agony over falling for someone she can’t be “falling in love” with, and these parts, I think, are so unnecessary because they didn’t add anything to the story aside from making me want to snap the book shut and give up completely. I’m really not here for your romantic troubles, ladies and gents. I would love to have been, but at this point, no.
I think it all started spiralling downward for me once the hunt started, because leading up to it I was still looking forward to how they were going to track and take down the beast. I don’t buy that a bunch of skilled hunters can’t take down a beast, even if it is supposedly magical. The world-building was lacking for me as well, I mean aside from the kingdom names and the Lashed magic, there isn’t anything else that distinguishes it from our world.
I skimmed the last hundred or so pages, but I literally did not miss anything. The beast? Like a wild animal, tamed by the princess. Paxton? Up and left, to go somewhere, maybe to hone his magic? Or just stay away? I don’t know. There’s a small flashback detailing why he’s kept his magic hidden, but even that didn’t sway my feelings towards him.
Basically I don’t know where this is supposed to be going. I think I have a vague idea, but from where the plot is right now I don’t know how it’ll get there.
Ack I never thought I’d give a 1, ever, but this book meandered along and didn’t get anywhere. I’m so sorry, I thought we could end on better terms, book. Would I read the next book? Probably, but just because I hate leaving things unfinished.