Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Book Review: Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms #1)

Release Date: December 27, 2016
Author: Erin Summerill
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Length: 392 pages
Source: Purchased Book

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.



Protagonist: Britta begins this book in a place of despair, after her father's recent death she's been left with nothing, her father's lands are about to be repossessed and she has nowhere to stay in the winter. After getting caught poaching she's offered a deal, her life in exchange for her father's killer. The only catch is that his alleged killer is none other than Britta's only friend, and the boy who broke her heart. One of the of things I love so much about Britta is that she has the capacity to focus and not let her emotions cloud her judgment too much. Since she's been gifted with the ability to distinguish truth and lie, it makes things easier for her to decide where her allegiances lie and find out the truth. I was surprised at how Britta's powers never really affected her character, her abilities, though very reliable, never made it feel as though she ever had an upper hand, it more enhanced her natural abilities and character.

Romance: I have to say I'm a tad disappointed in this romance. Don't get me wrong I like Cohen as a character and I think he and Britta have a lot of physical chemistry, I just wish we got to see more of how their bond started out. We do get to see some flashbacks toward the beginning of the book that help to establish his character as well as the bond he and Britta had, but I never really got a good sense where the romance came from and because of that I'm just hoping for a bit more emotional development between the two in the next book.

World Building: For a fantasy story, this world felt a bit textbook, two kingdoms on the brink of war, magic seems to be common in one and nearly outlawed in the other, and a girl who's ostracized because she's from a foreign kingdom. I've seen these tropes many times before and while the adventure of a cross-kingdom fantasy murder mystery was fun, I was just hoping for something to make this world vivid. I like the political intrigue of this tale and I really enjoyed the magic system as well, but I just wish there was something to set this world apart more and really dive in because I feel like this was a very surface look at this world and I wish we had dived deeper.

Predictability: When I went into this story I thought I had everything figured out, it's pretty safe to say that I was wrong. I really loved how the synopsis of this tale doesn't give too much away and actually, most of what's written in the synopsis happen very early on in the book. However, there are a great deal of layers to this story that I wasn't aticipating going in and this book surely has a lot of surprises along the way. The large twist of this book, of course, relates to the main plot, the murder mystery and I was impressed with how the author managed to pull that twist off.

Ending: Going into this adventure I was expecting something that would feel more like the first installment in a series, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this story played very much like a standalone. I mean, the next installment is set up by the end of the tale and the words, To Be Continued are at the end of this adventure, but how everything settles into place after a very tense final climax in which much is revealed, made everything feel very solitary and while there is more to discover in this world, I like how the author didn't go for the easy cliffhanger ending and just let this adventure sort of stand on its own.


I really enjoyed this fantasy murder mystery, full of political intrigue, magic, and romance, but I just wish the world was more memorable and I wish I could have felt more of an emotional connection with the main romance.


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