by Wendy Higgins
Series: Eudora Duology #1
Pub. Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Harper Audio
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 9 hrs
“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.
I don't read a lot of young adult books... but I find that I like y/a fantasy because the characters tend to be more mature, of marriageable age in their society, and there is a lot of action to keep the story going. I have to start with the narrator for The Great Hunt, Saskia Maarleveld, because she was absolutely fabulous. Saskia really brought the characters to life. She had great affectations for both male and female voices, and she made it really easy for me to picture the uber-yummy Chris Hemsworth as our hero... which certainly helped keep my interest in the story.
The Great Hunt is inspired by a Grimm Fairytale, The Singing Bone. Grimm fans should note that the story is loosely based and not a retelling of the actual tale, which involved two brothers, a spear, the killing of a boar, and fratricide. Higgins' inspired tale involves a great beast terrorizing the land, and a king who offers his daughter to the hunter that can save his kingdom from their plight.
Princess Aerity was a likable and relatable heroine. As royalty, many expect her to be snobby, entitled and spoiled. However, Aerity is nothing like the royal stereotype. She is kind to all she meets, even the Lashed,* who are magic users shunned by society due to historical misdeeds of an evil Lashed man. I enjoyed the acrobatic ability of the princess and her siblings, which was something unique to this story.
Paxton and Tian* Seabolt are Lochland* hunters, and have been experiencing the beast's terror firsthand. When the King's Proclamation is announced, the brothers jump at the chance to rid the land of the beast, marry the princess, and bring prosperity to their family. Well, Tian more than Paxton. Paxton just wants to kill the beast and keep his secret. But he can't deny that Aerity is not what he expected and they have an undeniable draw to one another. Paxton acts like an ass a good bit of the time, but he is working through a type of royal resentment owing to the big secret he is keeping.
I liked the diversity of characters we got with the different groups of hunters, particularly the female band in black from head to toe. I have to admit that the story didn't turn out like I expected... and there is a semi-cliffhanger. I am looking forward to the conclusion of the duology next year, and am really excited to meet Wendy Higgins at the RT Convention.
*I apologize for any misspellings in this review. Listening to the audio, its hard to discern the spelling of fantastical terms, names, etc.