- Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-242228-6 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-242230-9 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 6-9
When misfortune befalls Yeva’s family, they lose their estate, wealth, and status, and they are forced to move to her father’s hunting shack on the border of the dark forest that surrounds their city. Years ago, Yeva learned to hunt there with her father but now he refuses to take her along as he hunts for food, saying there is some unknown beast stalking the forest. When he fails to return one night, Yeva goes after him, but the Beast gets to her first, dragging her back to his castle where he imprisons her. He won’t kill her, though—he needs a skilled hunter to bring back a quarry that has eluded him for years, the prize that will return him to his human form. Elements of Russian folklore and even the Arabian Nights (Yeva soothes the Beast with stories night after night) thread through this revision of “Beauty and the Beast,” and the smooth storytelling effectively creates atmosphere and mood as well as relaying the tale. Much time is spent on details: the undulation of the forest’s shadows, the moldering furniture of the Beast’s castle, the red-gold color of the Beast’s irises, among other particulars, and they all work to create a richly immersive and creatively fresh world for a familiar story. While Beast is a recognizable mix of ferocity and vulnerability, Yeva is far more complicated; no doe-eyed bookworm, she has the practical mind of a hunter, but when her notions of predator and prey are upended, she scrambles to find another identity. Readers who’ve grown out of the Disney version but still want a happy ending will find their wish granted here.