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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hunted is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale by Meagan Spooner, the author of the Skylark and Starbound trilogies. Expect the violence to be less than in those series, but it's jarring and often life-threatening to the main characters, Yeva/Beauty and Beast. Yeva finds her father in pieces in the woods. There's a near drowning, an arrow to a lung, and a slit throat. Sensitive animal lovers beware: A beloved dog breaks a leg in a fight, and much hunting is described, down to skinning and gutting the animals. Beyond that the mature content is at a minimum: a few kisses, some cordial and brandy drunk in celebration. Readers can compare this more feminist version of the classic tale with others they've read or seen. Yeva is a skilled hunter who rejects the traditional gender roles of the time and bravely protects her family.
What's the story?
In HUNTED, Yeva and her two older sisters live a prosperous life in a small village thanks to their successful merchant father. Yeva spends her days visiting with a baronessa and her evenings baking bread and telling stories by the fire with her family. Life changes abruptly, however, when Yeva's father's latest business venture tanks -- a caravan of goods is stolen on a dangerous road and all his men are killed. With investors to pay, the family settles some debts by selling the village house and most of their things and moving to the father's small hunting cabin in the woods. Yeva is the only one of the sisters who takes to the rustic change of scenery. As a young girl, she used to hunt with her father and is eager to help provide for her family during the long winter. At first Yeva's father insists his daughter stay a lady and refuses her help. But as he embarks on longer outings in the woods, probing deeper into the forest for a creature whose head, he claims, will yield a hefty sum, the sisters need the food Yeva brings in. And when her father's hunting dog returns to the cabin without her father, Yeva employs her hunting skills to track him down. As she ventures deeper into the forest, desperate for any clues, she has the strong sense she's being followed -- of being hunted herself.
Is it any good?
This Russian-set update to the "tale as old as time" stays true to the drama of the star-crossed nature of it all while adding a healthy dose of modern girl power to the main character. Yeva, nicknamed Beauty, is an avid hunter and a survivor in Hunted. Her idea of a good time is tracking game in the woods by herself all day -- let's hear it for introverts.
She's a dangerous foe for the Beast as well, intent on getting revenge for her father's death. Having her move from all-out rage against the Beast to a place of empathy makes author Meagan Spooner's job tough, but she mostly manages to make the transition believable, all while exploring the dueling natures of the Beast himself through cursive diary-like entries between the chapters. Despite a slight drag near the end, this old story feels freshened up and empowered.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gender roles in Hunted. What is expected of Yeva in her village? Does she want this life in some ways? What does she decide is best for her in the end?
When Yeva focuses on anger and revenge as she deals with the loss of her father, does that help her overcome her grief? Why, or why not?
What is your favorite version of Beauty and the Beast? Why?
- Author: Meagan Spooner
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Fairy Tales, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Publication date: March 14, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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