Book Review: Hunted by Megan Spooner

Book: Hunted by Megan Spooner

Published May 2017 by HarperTeen|374 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. 

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

I really liked Hunted!  I really do like reading re-tellings, especially when fairy tales are involved.  Hunted is a re-telling of Beauty And The Beast, and I could definitely see the connections to the Disney movie that we all know and love.  But a little darker, and with some Russian folklore thrown in.  I really liked the addition of the Firebird, and it actually fit really well with the story.  I also thought that having Beauty be blindfolded was interesting as well.  I’m not sure why, but it made the story more interesting.

I also liked seeing the interludes that are narrated by Beast.  Interludes are the best way to describe them because they’re not really chapters.  But I really liked it because you get a lot of insight into who Beast is, and what he’s thinking.  You also get an idea of what happened, though not completely.

There’s something about this book that is cold and icy.  Which really fits the Russian feel of the book.  The snow and cold, and it’s rural and medieval Russia, and it just fits with everything going on.  It definitely feels more Russian than European, which was actually really nice, because it’s different than most re-tellings.  If you want a Russian twist on Beauty And The Beast, this is the book to read.  Actually, if you like Beauty And The Beast, this is a book I would recommend.

There is something about this book that is very haunting and restless, and Yeva definitely has a sense of wanderlust.  She definitely seemed happier when she was able to go between the cabin, her sister’s home, and the castle.  She and Beast seemed to fit well together, because they both seem restless and yearn for something more than what they have.  There’s definitely an…understanding…between them, and I actually really like that they aren’t in a rush to get married.  It would have been easier to have them get married in the end, but they don’t, and that was really refreshing to see.  Especially given it’s rural, medieval Russia.  I may be making assumptions here, but it seems like it would be the thing to do for that period and time period.

4 stars.  I didn’t completely love it, but I did really like it.  If you like fairy tales, Beauty And The Beast, and medieval Russia, this is the book for you!

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Book Review: Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

Bound Napoli CoverBook: Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

Published November 2004 by Atheneum|184 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Young Xing Xing is bound.  Bound to her father’s second wife and daughter after Xing Xing’s father has passed away. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where the life of a woman is valued less than that of livestock. Bound to be alone and unmarried, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Dubbed “Lazy One” by her stepmother, Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful but compulsory tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content, for now, to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, to tend to the mysterious but beautiful carp in her garden, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society.

But all of this is about to change as the time for the village’s annual festival draws near, and Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family’s money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also her dreams for the future.

In this searing story, Donna Jo Napoli, acclaimed author of “Beast and Breath,” delves into the roots of the Cinderella myth and unearths a tale as powerful as it is familiar.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really like fairy tale re-tellings, and I was really intrigued by a Chinese re-telling of Cinderella.  Especially because I loved Cinder.  I liked it, but not as much as I liked Cinder.  However, if you want something a little more historical, and a little less dystopic, this is definitely a good book to check out.

It seems like it’s a pretty straightforward re-telling of Cinderella, and I like that it’s pretty similar to one of the Chinese variations on the Cinderella story.  I do wish the author had deviated from the original story a little more, just because I would have liked to see her do something different with her re-telling of Cinderella.  It’s very clear that it’s a Cinderella re-telling, which I liked, but…I still wanted something slightly different, because if I wanted something that mirrored the original pretty closely, I’d go read the original.

Because of the setting, it’s a slightly different take on the Cinderella story we’re familiar with, partly because of Disney and partly because of the different Roger’s & Hammerstein versions out there (of which the Whitney Houston one is my favorite, but probably because it’s the only one I’ve seen, not counting the Disney version).  It seems like there are more variations on the Cinderella story across different time periods and continents that any other fairy tale out there, and this episode of The History Chicks does a great job at going over all of the different variations.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  It’s a pretty straightforward re-telling of one of the many variations of the Cinderella story, and I love the setting.  I like that it re-tells a version most Americans probably aren’t familiar with, but at the same time, I wanted some sort of twist on the story we all know.

Book Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound CoverBook: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Published May 2015 by Balzer+Bray|441 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

When Rachelle was fifteen, she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless—straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her hunt for the legendary sword that might save their world. Together, they navigate the opulent world of the courtly elite, where beauty and power reign and no one can be trusted. And as they become unexpected allies, they discover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Crimson Bound is a really interesting take on Little Red Riding Hood, and there are definitely a lot of parallels between Crimson Bound and the story of Little Red Riding Hood that we all know.  After reading Cruel Beauty, I was really looking forward to Crimson Bound, which I liked almost as much as Cruel Beauty.

I thought the mystery of the bloodbound and the Devourer was really interesting, but it did get sort of confusing at the end.  I definitely had to re-read parts of it to see if would make any more sense, and it sort of did, but not much.  Something about the world and the mythology made me think of the His Fair Assassins trilogy by Robin LaFevers, so if you like that series, you might want to check out this book.

It’s also pretty slow for a good chunk of the book, so it takes a while for anything interesting to happen, but I actually didn’t mind the slow pace, because there is a really interesting world we see in the book, and I just wanted to absorb as much of as I could.  There are a lot of hints and it seems really vague, so I might have to hunt down a more clear explanation of the mythology and everything with Zisa and Tyr to see if that will make it less confusing.  I did really like the description of the Forest, which seemed more metaphysical than anything else.

I didn’t particularly care for the love triangle, mostly because I didn’t feel like there was anything between Rachelle and either love interest.  I don’t have any strong feelings towards Armand or Erec, but I really liked Rachelle and how she tried so hard to hold onto her humanity.  It is a lot darker than I expected, even for a YA fantasy, but I really liked that about the book, even though it didn’t have the same spark that Cruel Beauty did. There wasn’t as action much as I thought there would be, given the summary, and while I didn’t mind, I think that’s why the book had a slower pace. And like I said earlier, I didn’t mind the slower pace, but a little more action throughout the book would have been nice.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I liked it, especially the world and the mythology, but I also wish the mythology was a little less confusing.