The Great Hunt (The Great Hunt #1), by Wendy Higgins
Publish Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: young adult fantasy
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Rating: 5 STARS
(Synopsis) 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.
Fairy tale retellings are awesome. There's usually a princess and she usually kicks ass. The Great Hunt isn't any different. Aerity is 17 and she is exactly the kind of character I love to read about. Unlike some fairy tale princesses, she doesn't kick ass with her fists or with magic. But, this girl is an oak. She is strong. She does not waiver. She does what needs to be done for the good of her people. Even if that means marrying someone she doesn't love.
Her dad - the king - is dealing with a terrible monster who is killing people all over the kingdom. He needs warriors to defeat it. And in order to entice them, he needs to dangle the ultimate prize - his daughter's hand in marriage. Aerity is not a fan of this plan. She wants to rage at her father and tell him no. She has her own ideas of how her life was to go, and marrying some stranger was not part of them. She agrees, though, without argument. Because she believes its her duty.
But, despite that, she's still a girl. And when she catches sight of Paxton Seabolt among the warriors who gather to fight the monster, she swoons a little. He's hot and brave and likes to brood - all hallmarks of the very best heroes. And she really, REALLY wants him to win.
Pax is pretty fantastic. I love the way he loves his younger brother. He watches out for him and takes care of him and wants only the best things for him. Except Aerity - although Pax protests much, he really does want her for himself. But, Pax is hiding a terrible secret, and knows that because of it, he could never have Aerity - not really. So, like Aerity, he's determined to do his duty for the good of the kingdom and slay the beast, even though he has no plans to claim his prize.
The ending made me crazy. It doesn't necessarily end on a cliffhanger, but it does end with many questions yet to be answered. Some things are decided and some aren't, but the one thing you can count on is that you will be DYING for the second book in this series by the time you finish.