Title: Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms #1)
Publisher//Release Date: HMH Books for Young Readers// December 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Synopsis: 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.
There are times that I feel that I read too much fantasy. That doesn’t happen very often, because its my favorite genre, but every once in a while, it does.
This was one of those time.
I’ll say this flat-out now: I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. It by no means a bad book, and I’m looking forward to the sequel coming out later this year, but I wasn’t blown away by it either.
Let’s break it down:
What I Liked:
- World Building. I feel like this is the hardest thing to get right in high fantasy novels, but Erin Summerill knows EXACTLY what she’s doing. I came out of it with a clear understanding of the cultures of both countries and the tense situation between them. I’m always worried that the world won’t come through clearly enough and I’ll be confused and misunderstand things. That is 100% not the case here. I also really liked the magic system in this world – there’s a lot of potential for in future books to explore it more.
- Pacing. The thought the pacing was very strong. There was only one brief section toward the middle that dragged a bit for me, but overall it held my interest and ended up being a quick read – especially when there was a great deal that might have bogged it down.
What I Thought Was ‘Meh’:
- Characters. I liked them. Liked. I did not love the characters. I’m not quiet sure what it was, but I had a really hard time connecting to them. I cared about them and what happened to them, particularly Britta and Cohen – but that was it. There was no urgency for me, no “I have to know what’s going to happen RIGHT NOW!” feeling. I don’t know that there was a great deal of growth for some of the characters, especially some of the secondary characters, who I felt had a great deal of potential. This is the first book in a series, so there is at least one book to explore these characters further.
- Romance. This was super conflicting for me. There’s chemistry and cute moments here and there, but I spent a good chunk of the book being frustrated with Cohen and the way he acted toward Britta. You guys have known each other for how long? Talk through a problem or two! It went beyond bickering to me and was just arguing. There’s definitely chemistry, but this wasn’t an OTP. Not by a long shot.
What I Didn’t Like:
- How FREAKING Predictable It Was. While I will admit, I am pretty genre savvy with fantasy, particularly of the YA kind, I am easily taken by surprise. This book, though? I guessed every major plot point. Every. Single. One. The plot as a whole wasn’t un-interesting, the premise was pretty cool, but there was no suspense for me. Even when there was tension, it didn’t last and it ended with something that I knew was going to happen 30 pages ago.
tl;dr: Ever the Hunted is a middle of the road fantasy novel with an premise and very strong world building, but with a predictable plot and characters that can only be described as “meh“. Despite its faults, there is a lot of potential for the future books in this series.