Review: Ever the Hunted - Erin Summerill


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Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
My Rating : {★★★★☆}

Young Adult Fantasy Fiction
Expected publication: December 27th 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers 

Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group via NetGalley
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 normally rate a book as soon as I close the cover because then I feel like I better capture how the book made me feel - what effect it had on me and how it left me. This one though I needed some time to step back and really think about because... I hated how the author left this book. Had the last few pages or even the very last page been different this would have probably been a solid four stars from me, but now I'm wavering between 3 and 4. I'll probably stick to 3.5 stars rounded up.

The writing is clear and easy to read, and for the most part it is compelling, but I was annoyed with how the author tries to hammer home her points at various times (Britta is an amazing tracker, Britta finds it hard to express her emotions and is not used to being touched). For me it made Britta harder to like and as the main character and the book being from her POV I really wanted to connect with her from the get-go.

The world building was just enough for me, especially for a debut novel and there are no info dumps which was great. It's not a grand sweeping Tolkienesque world but there are still coherent qualities of history and geography. I don't need epic tomes of world building to create a good fantasy and Summerill exercised brevity well here.

The execution of some of the typical YA tropes and cliches was actually done well although I did find the romance a little eye rolling at times and it was painfully obvious that they both want each other however I can forgive the angst.

The magical elements were interesting and I found them to be quite well thought out - there was a cost to the magic and you could tell there were limits even though these weren't clearly defined. I'd like to continue to see structure to this in the sequels as I hate it when fantasy writers fall prey to 'the magic wins all'.

The characters weren't brilliant, but they were given more depth as the story went on and I grew to like Britta more and more. Cohen was annoying at times but at the end of the day I also liked him as the love interest.

Now, that last page... It's so hard to talk about without it being all spoilery, but the author really threw a spanner into the works and it's basically there just to queue the cliffhanger for book two. I didn't appreciate that at all and I already have a few ideas of where the author will take this. I'm hoping that most of them are wrong. In fact I'm hoping that this ambiguous cliff hanger is actually cleared up within the first few pages of the next book and we can all move on because I can't see myself enjoying the potential that it's brought about. I could be wrong though! And I really hope I am.

In short this book holds a lot of potential, especially for a fantasy ready that enjoys adventure along the way. It isn't particularly fresh or gritty but it was enjoyable for the most part and I am looking forward to the next one.

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