Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ever the hunted by Erin Summerill

Life has never been easy, or kind, to Britta Flannery.  Her mother was from the neighbouring kingdom of Shaerdan, and she can not hide her mixed heritage - and the people in her village make no secret of their distrust and outright hatred of Britta.  The only saving grace was her father, who taught her all the skills she needs to survive in the woods.  Britta can track men and animals and can shoot a bow and arrow with deadly accuracy - skills that come in handy when you are trying to feed yourself or track down a criminal as the King's bounty hunter.  For years it has been Britta and her father Saul, but when Cohen apprentices to her father to become a bounty hunter their small family grows, but then Cohen walked out of their lives.

When Saul is murdered Britta must follow the custom of spending two months of mourning in the family cottage, and she nearly starves to death because none of the villagers follow the custom of bringing food to the grieving family.  When her mourning is up Britta makes the decision to poach in the King's forest to feed herself - a decision that leads to her making a terrible bargain to save her life.  She the choice of death by hanging for poaching, or tracking down Cohen - who is accused of killing her father.  Determined to live, Britta takes the deal and begins a game of cat and mouse with the student who learned alongside her.  It will be a brutal journey with many challenges, and Britta will have to face physical and emotional challenges if she is to unwrap the mystery of her father's death.

Like quite a few of my books recently, I found Ever the hunted on Instagram and was drawn in by the brief description and amazing cover art.  Reading the blurb was also tantalising - it promised so much and in some ways I was almost afraid to pick the book up in case it failed to meet my expectations - but I needn't have worried!  Britta is a strong female lead in the tradition of many fantasy series for young people, she is perfectly flawed and grows as she travels on her quest and learns some of the hard adult lessons we all learn as we grow older.  There are some of the traditional fantasy archetypes here and they are well executed - the villain, the young adventurer, the wise woman, and the first love. 

This is a fantasy novel that will appeal to older readers as well as younger teens with an older reading age - there is no gratuitous violence or sex, but there is strong character development and a believable world.  Summerill has created one of the rare straddling series, one that can be enjoyed by younger and older teens alike.  I particularly liked the fact that she didn't try and burden you down with too much detail, she allowed her world to expand over time - and her characters also expand in this way, allowing you to settle into the story without having to spend time untangling characters and what was important.  Some readers may feel that she is a little light on detail at the start, but I strongly recommend reading the book all the way through before you make any decisions as it is well written and answered all my questions by the end.  Now we just have to wait a year for the next book in the series.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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