Book Title: Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms, #01) Author: Erin Summerill Number of pages: 400
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.
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:
– This book will look pretty on your shelves
– The conflicted listed in the blurb is resolved early on
– Prose is uncomplicated yet vivid; the fantasy elements could have been developed. Fantasy-lite with minimal political intrigue
– Heavy dose of romance in this story between best friends
– Skepticism does allow for a predictable read (including cliffhanger) but it may beg to be read regardless
There is a lot of romance in this book. Full stop.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Ever the Hunted from Indigo and signed up to be part of this blog tour.
The cover design for Ever the Hunted is legit. Between the swirling lines in the background to the bird chilling atop the typography, it is extremely photogenic.
I will be upfront to say that although the synopsis is accurate, the internally motivated strife re: her father’s apprentice is resolved very early and shifts the expectation of a plot-heavy story in a cat-and-mouse story to one that relies on character development to carry it along (the reality). That being said, the MC is still bound by the whodunnit mystery and I did find enjoyment in being a skeptical reader as hints were dropped leading to the plot twist (even if it was wildly predictable).
Imagine you see the world through a viewfinder. Now describe each image you take. This is the strength of Summerill’s prose in Ever the Hunted’s. The narrative stretches through rough terrain, rickety buildings, and lush forests — all of which is detailed with enough finesse to be vivid without leaning on purple prose.
Speaking to the world building, I can honestly say I believed this book to be low fantasy for the longest time. It’s not. The [high] fantastical elements are introduced later in the story. For comparisons sake, the world reads a lot like Truthwitch-lite but doesn’t have as strong of political intrigue. All of the pieces are there but they aren’t exactly fleshed out to capture an divisive political struggle over-and-beyond the turmoil between the two nations and its communities.
It’s a matter of showing versus telling that just needed further reinforcement as plot holes simply negated the effectiveness of the setting to be truly dreadful. More specifically: it’s one thing to show lives were lost for naught, but to consistently suggest that without having tangible conflict afflicted toward the central characters? Just a bit of a missed opportunity.
As a first person POV, I cannot talk about Narration without consideration of its Characters.
Being in Britta Flannery’s head was a struggle. Her demeanor typically pit her feelings above understanding and empathy. It’s not that she’s whiny…it’s that everything kind of felt like it had to revolve around her. Furthermore, her sense of independence diminished into nothing when Cohen was in the scene. I get that he’s her BFF but c’mon…you do not need a partner/relationship to be strong.
However, what’s good is that her development was at a consistent pace. Yes, while I may have been annoyed with her construct, she exhibits key traits of her [17 years] of age. The caveat to her character construct is the ease to which she was able to hone her craft. Given the tight schedule with unfolding events underscoring this plot, there appears to be a lack of realism in supporting the necessary learning curve she ought to encounter.
As a heroine, there is potential with Britta, but I’m jaded by the romance and how much of this story revolves around it. The tender moments to be forced; as if I was being spoon fed the feels.
Since I love supporting characters, I must say that of the few introduced, they are executed with greater nuance than the protagonists; which saddens me to say since so many of them were mere plot devices in their own right. (Also bonus points to the horses, Siron in particular, for giving it their all for their.)
There’s this scene (re: celebration) that needed to be expounded as it relates to ascertaining the inappropriateness of public displays of LGBT+ themes. So people were dancing and Britta was dressed as a boy (to feign being discovered) but Cohen wanted to dance [with her]. She rejects, citing her disguise to which he removes, and they proceed to dance in a crowd-less area. It is then left without discussion. I just don’t think you can write off notions like these.
While I can remain bitter as to the reality of the blurb being resolved in record time, the story delivers on its promise with a cliffhanger that, while isn’t shocking, is a path that beckons to be read. Erin Summerill’s Ever the Hunted is a story centering around character dynamics, is effortlessly propulsive and driven by the romance, and is set within a magical world much larger than it lets on.
I had the opportunity to ask Erin questions as well!
One of my favourite scenes in film is when Legolas (Lord of the Rings) surfs down a flight of stairs firing away on his bow, so it’s great Ever the Hunted is packed with bow-and-arrow action! What inspired you to choose this weapon system over others, and have you yourself learned how to use a bow?
I took a short archery course a few years ago and loved every moment of it. But it wasn’t until I was on a photography trip with my associate photographer, that I started thinking about bow hunting. My associate mentioned that she enjoyed hunting. She told me her favourite weapon of choice was a bow. I was shocked. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even realize bow hunting was still a popular sport. That conversation led to many more, which inspired Britta’s love of bow hunting. For the record, I can shoot an arrow, but I’ve yet to hit a target. 😉