Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Beast of a Book Masquerading as Fantasy

Thursday, February 18, 2016 with 7 comments
Title: The Great Hunt
Author: Wendy Higgins
Series: The Great Hunt, book #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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 think I'm just going to have to come to terms with the fact that I've outgrown this author's writing. I had so much fun reading Sweet Evil all that time ago, but now that I think about it, I read it as part of a read-along, and maybe the group atmosphere contributed to my enjoyment more than anything? Because I only rated each subsequent book around three stars, and I couldn't bring myself to read the final book, written from the love interest's perspective. And I read her indie See Me, with basically the same results. She did write a contemporary novella that I probably enjoyed the most out of all her writing. It was short, to the point, and it felt like the author knew what she was doing with the story.

I was really excited for The Great Hunt, but now I find myself rather disappointed with its execution. This book was so very fantasy light; only at the end did the magical elements even make a play for my attention. Magic is outlawed in Lochlanach and throughout the land, so people with the ability are scared to use it. The Lashed, as they're called, are already persecuted simply for having the ability. The mark of magic usage is the equivalent of a pregnancy test in the user's nailbed: purple line for positive, no mark otherwise. So it's necessary for all citizens to keep their hands clean and uncovered as proof of no misdeed. I mean, really? There wasn't a more clever way to mark magic wielders? I guess it's different, at least...

Aerity is the main character and Paxton is her would-be love interest, but this story focuses on six, nay seven, characters overall. It's kind of a big ole heptagon up in here, with all these hunters vying for a chance to win Aerity's hand in marriage but them all falling for Aerity's sister and cousin, in addition to that. Also, I'm beginning to wonder if the author knows how to write a love interest who isn't gruff, obtuse, and irascible, at least when it comes to her full-length novels. Her leading men tend to prefer to push a girl away for her protection rather than you know, actually sticking around and protecting her. I am so ridiculously over that trope.

This story was just way too long and the pacing bordered on tedious. Cut out some of the meandering and hemming and hawing and this could have been one book instead of a duology. I like duologies; they're kind of my new favorite type of "series". But only when it makes sense to extend the story to two books, much as I only like trilogies when three books are warranted.

I can't believe I forced myself to read the entire book, especially when I knew it wasn't a stand-alone. But above all else, I was insanely curious about the beast and where it came from. I have my answer now, so I'm not doubtful that I'll pick up the sequel. I shouldn't have expected so much from this novel, especially considering my previous experiences with the author's work, but I just can't seem to help myself when it comes to fantasy and love/hate relationships.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, the high fantasy duology The Great Hunt, and her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and doggie Rue.

Wendy earned a bachelor's in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master's in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University.

Find Wendy:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Facebook | Tumblr


  1. I've seen more reviews of people that are disappointed with this one. :( Such a shame!

  2. Oh man. Her other series didn't really work for me, so I made sure to give her another go with this one. So disappointing that it's not as great as it sounds.

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