The Great Hunt (The Great Hunt #1)
By: Wendy Higgins
Publication Date: March 8th, 2016
Kill the beast. Win the girl.
A strange beast stirs fear in the kingdom of Lochlanach, terrorizing towns with its brutality and hunger. 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 understands her duty to the kingdom though it pains her to imagine marrying a stranger. It would be foolish to set her sights on any particular man in the great hunt, but when 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 keen on marriage. 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 and protecting his family—yet Princess Aerity continues to challenge his notions with her unpredictability and charm. But as past secrets collide with present desires, dire choices threaten everything Paxton holds dear.
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, outlawed magic, and a princess willing to risk all to save her people.
I believe a lot of people at this point have heard of Wendy’s first series, the Sweet series, and I had one unfortunate friend who took the hit for me and read it and warned me to not touch it with a ten foot pole. Thank you, Alex, for your sacrifice. Taking that into account, I approached this book warily, not knowing what to expect, but, god help me, I am a sucker for fairy tale retellings and didn’t stand a chance. I’m glad I approached it warily, my expectations weren’t too high, so limited room for disappointment. Except for the ending, that part sucked.
So we have Aerity, who is fantastic, and Paxton, who is grumpy and rude, and his little brother Tiern, who was great. I loved Aerity, and I loved how at every turn she proved Paxton wrong, but not in an unrealistic way. It’s just that Paxton expects the worst and Aerity easily falls short of his expectations in the best way. She is a genuine character, to the point that she doesn’t easily hide her feelings, and her caring and devotion to her family and her people was felt in her words as well as her actions. Paxton himself doesn’t really grow on you, his big secret was an easy one to guess and it was obvious why he would be so hostile, but his reasoning at some points during the story was questionable. His repeated attempts to literally run away from his problems was a mixture of self preservation and apparent immaturity. Also, the male main character that sleeps around is so overdone. Tiern on the other hand was a little shining light of a sunny disposition and his character easily balanced out his brother’s sulky attitude.
The plot followed and expanded on The Singing Bone; there was a beast to hunt, two brothers, and the king’s daughter was up for grabs as a reward, but luckily no fratricide. Instead, some elements that reminded me of the Island of Dr. Moreau and a magical element, as well as a repressed subset of the population, were introduced that I was not expecting. I am curious as to where the next book will go, as Aerity is in a situation that is not ideal at all, and some interesting elements of The Singing Bone, like, say, the actual singing bone, were left out and I want to see if Wendy will be including these and continuing with her original inspiration or if she will incorporate another fairy tale.
Now I really want to talk about the ending, so if you hate spoilers, cover your eyeballs. Now, the ending was going every which way. I had a clue early on that the beast only killed men, and since then I had hoped that Aerity herself would be the one to kill the beast, and it looked like this would be true and I was very much looking forward to a very happy ending where Aerity would get her freedom of choice back. Unfortunately, Aerity gets knocked out cold in the middle of the final fight. Wendy then pulls the rug out from under your feet, again, when it looks like Paxton will be the one to kill the beast, but he gives up this chance to bring his brother back from the dead. Instead, the turd from the north kills the beast, and poor Aerity wakes up to find that the man who prefers her cousin, who herself just lost her “great love” but moved on pretty quickly, to her, and plans on having a relationship with her cousin after they are married, is going to be her husband and that Paxton has run off.
The Great Hunt was a not satisfying fantasy retelling and the second book is a questionable read. I need to know how Aerity and Paxton will be reunited, how Aerity will get out of this awful marriage arrangement with Lief, preferably he will just die, and how Aerity and Paxton will end up together. I really, really need that to happen. Just because I want Aerity happy at least because I liked her. I also really, really need for there to not be any extra love interests on either side, because that would be the perfect way to run the story into the ground for good.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.