Title: Ever the Hunted
Author: Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms, #1
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: December 27th 2016
*I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, which does not influence my review*
I was initially really excited to pick up Erin Summerill’s Ever the Hunted, but the plot inconsistencies and clichéd romance really disappointing me. Britta Flannery has just lost her father. With no one to turn to for help, Britta is forced to break the law in order to survive. But she is caught poaching, a crime punishable by death. In exchange for her life, she must hunt down her father’s murderer. With the kingdom of Malam on the brink of war with neighboring Shaerdan, Britta will soon uncover secrets that have consequences for both countries.
Britta is presented as a capable heroine, but the biases of her fellow countrymen keep her from accomplishing all she is capable of. Her mother was Shaerdan and the animosity between the two countries makes her an outcast. She’s always had her father and his former apprentice Cohen to rely on, but now she must hunt down her only friend, who is accused of killing her father. One thing I found infuriating about Britta is she seemed incapable of thinking of anything but Cohen. A lot of time is spent on her reflecting on him with the flashback scenes focusing on their relationship. It would have benefited Britta’s character for her to have spent some time thinking about her dead father. From the very beginning, we are told that Britta is incredibly loyal, but I found this laughable when she so readily believes her only friend to be a murderer. This becomes even more laughable when you see the direction the author intends to take Britta’s story at the end of the novel.
One major point of confusion for me was Britta’s mother’s story. At the beginning of the novel, Britta says that her mother was accused of giving Malam secrets to Shaerdan and was killed for it. Later, Britta becomes furious with her mother for choosing to leave her and her father after she was born to return to Shaerdan. This was a really glaring error that luckily doesn’t affect the storyline too much as the novel goes on. But nothing compares to the eye-roll inducing romance between Britta and Cohen. Every interaction felt so cliché: Oh, we’re forced to share a bed, how will I keep my feelings to myself?/Oh, we almost kissed, but you pulled away and now I’m going to convince myself you were just checking if I had something in my eye because you could never, ever love little ol’ me/Oh, you asked me to dance for no good reason which has nothing to do with the fact that you like me/Oh, we kissed, but it must be a mistake because I’m so pale and freckled, no one could ever love me.
Ever the Hunted had potential when it came to the magical system, which is not explored enough, but too many other elements made it a disappointing read.