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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
If you taught a robot how to write fantasy with a 2nd grade creative writing curriculum, I wouldn’t be surprised if it came out with something similar to Ever the Hunted. A bit harsh, but that’s the best way I can think to describe the predicament that this book posed. It was like every bad writing habit I’d ever learned in school was coming back to me.
First of all, taking conjunctions completely out of sentences is probably not the best idea because then you just get really stiff narrative where it should be fluid. Second of all, adding a bunch of adverbs and going on flowery tangents isn’t world-building. It’s restricting your reader and taking up precious space on the page. Thirdly, there were way too many instances of coincidence where the characters are saved thanks to downright miraculous connections between two obscure side characters. Finally, I felt like I was continually being told how to feel, what I was looking at, what was going on, what the backstory was, and not shown anything.
And there were other, less trivial things that bothered me. Exhibit A, the plot. Sadly, it falls into the big pile of YA fantasies that have absolutely nothing new to offer the genre. I liked the book enough to get through it, but objectively speaking, it was trope after trope after trope.
The only real problem that the plot posed to me (other than the predictability) was the journey. This is something a lot of YA fantasies go through, but some do it well and some do it horribly. Kristin Cashore’s Graceling is a good example of a journey done well. It’s fun to follow, it doesn’t take up too much time, and it presents a period of great growth between the main characters. Here, the journey is a period of travel and reunion between the two main characters.
And then there was Britta herself, the hero assassin who can hardly save herself, let alone kill others. From the beginning, Britta was fainting and falling all over herself and waiting to be rescued. I’m not a big believer in the idea that anyone should be a super overpowered character, but I do think it’s important for there to be an intentional decision to make a character competent or not. For a genre like YA, where it’s crucial for there to be at least some realistic, competent female characters, there should be a decent reason for a lack of competency. In Ever the Hunted, there is none.
Overall, this one did disappoint me. Especially in the beginning, I was still in love with it and thought it could be an amazing novel despite the tropes. After all, I loved Sara B. Larson’s Defy, and that was hardly original. Things went steadily downhill though, and I only continued reading for the sake of finishing. In addition to the books I’ve mentioned in this post, I would also recommend Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay in place of this one. 1 star.