Author: Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1
Published: expected December 27 2016
Source: publishers 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.
This was another YA fantasy novel that is just.... alright, despite the distinct cover. I mean it's not bad; voila, a new winner of the faint praise award. I've read far worse books than Britta's story just this year... but the issue is: I've also read many more inventive and original fantasies than what Ever the Hunted has to offer. So much of what happens, so much of the worldbuilding, so much of the characters feels so familiar or shallow, so been-there-read-that-before, especially if you're more than passing familiar with fantasy OR young adult books.
Ever the Hunted does a pretty good job of trying to make you care about Britta's plight and her person. She's facing a hard lot with no one to help her (hello mysteriously dead mother and secretive father!) and nearly starving (hello, shades of Katniss, Feyre, etc.) and then from there the plot takes off into even more familiar territory. There are shifting alliances, political betrayal, escapes and disguises. And, to be fair to Ever the Hunted, this is a light and fun read; it's not trying to make a point or Say Something Important. It just follows the predicted path; there's no trope or genre staple it does not cover. It's not a bad book; it's just likely to prove a really forgettable one.
Despite the generic feel of the story and utter lack of any real attempt at worldbuilding, Ever the Hunted is an engaging read. It makes for an entertaining couple of hours and there are occasional hints or signs that something better is possible than this superficial start. There's a lot of potential for these characters and this world if the next book chooses to explore those angles instead of the treacly romance between Britta and her love interest (or is it interests after that love-triangley ending?). The ending of the book was an interesting move and I am curious to see how this change will have an impact on the relationships and dynamics going into the sequels.