Hunted by Meagan Spooner
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?
This is a solid YA Beauty and the Beast retelling, full of girl power and feminist themes. Some of the story threads are definitely true to the original fairy tale (kidnapping, a curse, a ruined castle, a beast), but where Spooner deviates from that tale is where the meat of this story really comes from.
In this retelling, Beauty is something of a badass. A hunter who can move through a forest as though she is part of it.
This book starts off with her father as a wealthy merchant, who sacrificed his love of the woods to give his wife and three children a better life in town. A bad investment ends in tragedy for his business, and the family is forced to retreat back to his dilapidated country cottage. There, he re-enters the surrounding forest, stalking deeper and deeper into the wilderness in search of something that will re-instate his fortune and return the family to the good life they had in town.
This does not go so well for him. As you can imagine.
After he disappears, Beauty goes in search of him. She finds him eventually, and by then it’s too late to realize that while she’s been stalking his tracks, that something else her father was looking for has been stalking her.
The concept of the Beast in this was really quite an original take, based more on Russian fairy tales than anything else. The magic, the enchanted forest, the creatures that lived within it, they were all just so original and refreshing.
I can’t recommend this high enough for fans of fairy tale retellings.