Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1 (1/2)
Published by Harcourt Childrens Books December 27, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
2.5 Stars, Completed January 5, 2017
– read bold text only to avoid major SPOILERS –
Know how to protect yourself, Papa said. You have to be strong. Strong as the trees.
Britta Flannery has grown up tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter of Malam. But those days are over now that her father has been murdered. Britta alone and an outcast to society (because of her identity) decides to seek refuge in the Ever woods. There she’s caught by a royal guard for illegally poaching. Surprisingly, instead of putting her up to the noose, he offers her a chance to live. All she must do is complete a task using something she excels at: track her father’s killer. But, of course, it’s not that simple. The prime suspect is none other than her late father’s former apprentice and her childhood best friend, Cohen McKay. To makes matters even more complicated, Britta was also in love with Cohen-that is before he disappeared conveniently months before her father’s death. On this dangerous quest, Britta will meet many hardships-not only physical but matters of the heart as well.
For fans that adore high fantasies with a dash of romance, that premise sounds quite promising, doesn’t it? Well, Ever the Hunted was certainly right up my alley because I have a tendency to love books that consist of badass heroines, thrilling adventures, and swoonworthy romances (especially ones that feature the friends to lovers trope-my absolute favorite). With high hopes, I was so prepared to love this, but, unfortunately, I was greatly let down.
To put it simply, perhaps the fifteen year old me years ago would have squealed over the romance and loved this, but the current me found this such a generic YA fantasy that I was left rather unimpressed by the end.
The romance does take over the plot for the majority of the later half of the story, so it’s important if readers can join the Britta/Cohen ship in order to enjoy Ever the Hunted. It’s unexplainable but I was so put off by the romance. Friend to enemies to lovers is a trope I adore, but this one really didn’t work for me. I’m still not certain why but I couldn’t buy into Britta and Cohen’s attraction for each other. I guess, I didn’t really feel the chemistry? And even stranger, for some reason, I cringed (a lot) every time Cohen called Britta “dove.” I don’t know why but in my mind hearing him say that equated to something sickly sweet and cheesy as “baby.” (I told you my aversion to the romance was somewhat unexplainable.) And I found that all the pent up sexual tension between the two came off a bit awkward. Anyway, I wouldn’t say the romance was at all wrong or bad. The fact that I wasn’t swept off my feet by it was only a personal opinion. I can’t say that other readers would feel the same way as I did.
However, there’s no mistaking that because all the plentiful clichés and tropes that were present were too familiar I didn’t feel like I was reading that original of a story and consequently my interest level diminished the more I read. All the twists were painfully predictable from a mile away. And, sadly, the adventure I was looking forward to ended up being an on-the-road plot that kind of bored me.
“You’re more powerful than you know, girl. Inside you there’s strength you didn’t even realize. You’re something special.”
Another problem I had was that Britta is such a typical heroine. I mean, of course, she’s almost brilliant at everything. Of course, most of the other characters are smitten by her and admire her obstinate personality. Of course, she’s a special snowflake with abilities she didn’t know she possessed. Of course, those abilities she has are super rare but she can hone them in the span of the events of one installment. /eyeroll/
I also wasn’t convinced that she was as great of a tracker as everyone claimed her to be. For a gifted tracker, she wasn’t very observant and almost always seemed to be blindly in the dark during moments where other characters and readers could see the situations clearly. And she failed to do what she needed to several times. Britta had a lot of potential with all the angst that had built up after Cohen’s “betrayal” and her father’s unexpected passing, but her character just didn’t live to what I was hoping. And I didn’t find her special aside from the fact she’s a special snowflake. Sigh.
The ocean is a rolling field of the bluest crop I’ve ever seen, filling our view two days after escaping the guards. The sea touches the horizon, swaying and moving like a living, breathing being beneath a lid of white clouds and sunshine. It’s possibly the most beautiful thing in the world.
But among all the negative feelings I had while reading this, I did like Summerill’s atmospheric, descriptive writing. And for that one redeeming quality, 2 stars instead of 1. Summerill does a brilliant job with taking readers wherever Britta is-whether that be in the woods, a dark cave, or in the bustling village. So even though I wasn’t satisfied with the execution of the characters, romance, and story, I thought the writing was pretty solid. I don’t foresee myself continuing this series but I will definitely give Summerill another try if she decides to write something else.
On further thought, I’ve also decided to throw in an extra 0.5 because Lief (one of the characters that is a part of the cast but does not play a major role) is a kind giant; I was fond of him. However, this was not an open invitation for a love triangle in the next book. And, to my dismay, that was exactly what the final cliffhanger was implying would happen with the sequel. So, lastly, I would say that the ending was one of the few parts that did surprise me-but, regretfully, not in a good way.
To conclude, upon finishing Ever the Hunted I believe I wailed a loud “no” so sorrowfully. I am truly bummed that I didn’t love this as much as I wanted to. The three elements (expressed earlier in the review) that I was looking forward to weren’t entirely there. And, honestly, I hate to say it but I’d advise others to give this one a miss unless you’re new to YA fantasy. Ever the Hunted doesn’t bring forth anything new to the genre and would be a predictable read for most avid fantasy readers. Instead, I’d suggest trying Graceling or Yona of the Dawn. Both have some similarities to Ever the Hunted but are better executed in regards to plot, character, and romance.
Quotes were taken from an uncorrected advance readers copy.
Special thanks to Harcourt Childrens Books and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review Ever the Hunted. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.