Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Title: The Great Hunt
Author: Wendy Higgins
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss

“Aerity…” Her father paused as if the words he was forming pained him. “I must ask you to sacrifice the promise of love for the sake of our kingdom.”

She could only stare back, frozen.

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.
Review by Nara

The Great Hunt actually went off to an awesome start, and I was wondering why so many of my Goodreads friends had rated the book lowly. In the first chapter, the fiance of one of the protagonists is brutally murdered (and it's actually described in quite a bit of gruesome detail) by a vicious beast. There I was, completely hooked and wondering where this beast comes from. And we're introduced to the magic system, which is incredibly intriguing, with certain people being able to work what is basically "life" magic, but these people are persecuted for using their magic (which is obvious because their nails gain purple lines when they work their magic). But then as the book went on, it became increasingly apparent what brought down their ratings, and I unfortunately had to join the ranks of people who didn't particularly enjoy The Great Hunt.

Probably what I found most annoying was that there was this deadly beast wandering the lands, but the thing that preoccupied the mind of main character Aerity was who she would marry and the random hot guy who ignores/irritates her. Similarly, one of the other POV characters, Wyneth, whose fiance has literally just been torn apart by a beast in front of her eyes days ago, is preoccupied by this other random hot guy. JESUS CHRIST I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE ROMANCE, JUST TELL ME ABOUT THIS BEAST.

The twist about the secret that Paxton was hiding was pretty obvious, to say the least. Throughout the novel, Higgins reveals small bits of the secret which are supposed to lead you to working out what was going on, but unfortunately it was pretty evident what he was hiding basically from the moment you realise that he has a secret. I'm not sure I liked the romance between Paxton and Aerity. I liked them enough as independent characters, but the romance was much too sappy and full of cliches ("I better be rude to her so she stays away from me because I have a dangerous secret" and "Oh, I've never met someone so rude, better fall in love with him" and other similar such statements).

The other thing that wasn't that great were the many points of view. Higgins would jump between characters quite often, and there were certain minor characters who had maybe 5-10 pages each for the entire novel. I just felt like this was quite unnecessary, and the author probably would have been better off sticking to one or two points of view and consolidating our understanding of those characters. As it was, I didn't feel particularly attached to any of the characters (I did like them, but not enough to feel invested in what was going to happen to them).

Ultimately, The Great Hunt was a bit of a mediocre disappointment. I wouldn't recommend it to most people, particularly if you're a fan of high fantasy.

It was okay
Overall: 5/10
Plot: 3/5
Romance: 2/5
Writing: 2.5/5
World Building: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Cover: 2/5