Ever the HuntedSeries: Clash of Kingdoms #1
by Erin Summerill
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Harcourt Childrens Books on December 27th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.
However, it’s not so simple.
The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.
I was expecting big things from Erin Summerill’s Ever the Hunted as soon as I read the synopsis and added the book to my TBR pile. Yes, there’s certainly a glut of YA fantasy out there. It’s been hit or miss for me with YA fantasy novels these last two years. Often, I find many of the YA fantasy stories I pick up nowadays have watered down world building with a bit of young, insta-love romance tossed on top. Where’s the depth?
Ever the Hunted wasn’t a watered down YA love story at all. The story actually starts rather brutally with the heroine, Britta, illegally hunting in the King’s woods, on the verge of literally starving to death. She has just left her home after a two month mourning period, sequestered in her cottage. Normally, neighbors and friends would have brought food for her to eat during her mourning period but because she is seen as an outcast, no one brought her food. So she’s resorted to poaching to live. Break the law or die… hmm, tough choice there.
Like any good book that doesn’t want to end in the first chapter, things don’t go so well for Britta and she’s thrown in the King’s dungeon. Eventually, she is offered a deal. Because she has the same tracking skills as her father, find her father’s killer and bring him back to the castle. Oh, and by the way, the killer is your father’s former apprentice, Cohen. You virtually grew up with him so he shouldn’t be too hard to track. You know all his tricks.
Yeah, right… like the trick where he left with no goodbye? Stupid, good for nothing… ∗grumble, grumble∗
I must have been in a very good place (not literally) when I read this because I saw some of my friend’s reviews for this book and it’s a complete mixed bag of reactions out there. Some say this story IS a typical weak YA fantasy romance. But I’m in the “LOVED IT” camp. I personally haven’t read a YA fantasy this tightly and well written with a plot that moves at a good pace in quite a while. There was maybe one point where it slowed a bit for me but I NEVER like the “traveling” parts of books. Even the surprise reveals genuinely caught me off guard.
The story is told from Britta’s POV so I will say, you’ll have to like the heroine to enjoy the story. I truly did. I liked seeing how her perspective on the world changed and how she was forced to see life differently but still remain true to how she was raised, basically her core values.
Maybe my five star review just comes down to my love of the world and it’s two Kingdoms clashing over ways of life. And it goes deeper than that – it’s all about control in the end.
Speaking of the end, Ms. Summerill did NOT leave me hanging like a lot YA fantasies enjoy doing to me. She tied up this story nicely but left the series arc open for a continuation in the next book. Yay!