wonderful YA series
"Ever the Hunted" is an incredible YA fantasy with a touch of romance. The story begins with Britta, starving and alone since her father was killed, hunting (poaching) for something to trade for lodging. As a person who is half Shaerdanian living in Malam, she is already ostracized by the locals who will not trade or help her and cannot inherit her father's land and/or home. Shaerdan and Malam are on the verge of war. Since she was a baby, Malam has closed its borders and made laws, for which the penalty is death, against the Channelers, women with powers to alter one aspect of nature. Britta's father, Saul, protected her to an extent as he taught her to do his job, tracking, and stealth as a bounty hunter. He also trained Cohen, who was to be an apprentice and Britta's only friend. Britta hasn't seen Cohen in a long time, as even though he said he would meet her the next day after she confessed her love for him, he never appeared or returned.
Britta is captured for poaching, for which the penalty is hanging, and is offered that she would be freed and her father's house and land given to her if she hunts down her father's killer, who is believed to be Cohen. Britta reluctantly agrees and sets out to find Cohen with guards breathing down her neck. However, things are not so simple or clear as they seem and who Britta, her father, and all the characters who seemed so black and white before are gets muddied. Britta must unravel the truth before it is too late for her kingdom and those she cares about.
I really loved this book. It was a bit slow moving at first as the scene is set and the characters developed, but once it really got going (about a quarter of the way through), I was completely hooked. I'm a sucker for medieval style adventures with an epic romance, and this was so well written that I was completely captured by Britta and Cohen and this whole other world. The fantasy elements felt just about perfect- they didn't overtake the book and mysteries of her father's death and kingdom's fate- but they certainly added a unique quality to the story. The romance between Britta and Cohen was incredible and I was cheering for them the whole way- there's a lot of unresolved sexual tension though (you have to withstand a lot of it, but then it makes the idea of their romance even sweeter). There are a few big twists that I didn't see coming, and I really loved following them all the way until the end.
As a note, the end does have a little bit of a cliffhanger, so be forewarned. I am so sad not to have the next book of this amazing series to keep reading right now. The author has built an incredible world, and I loved every step of this amazing journey. Britta really matures throughout the story, and she is the perfect character with which to explore this unique kingdom and fantasy adventure. This book is a wonderful twisty, mystery, fantasy, romance adventure, and I can't wait to read more.
Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are entirely my own.