Title: Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms #1)
Author: Erin Summerill
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
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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.
Britta is an outcast. Her entire life she has only had one friend, Cohen, her father's apprentice. Britta's father teaches her everything he knows, training her and Cohen to be the best trackers in the land. After a tragic accident, however, Cohen leaves, and Britta is left friendless and with no one to rely on except her father. Unfortunately, when we meet Britta at the start of Ever the Hunted, her father has been murdered, and as an orphan who is viewed as illegitimate, she is about to lose everything. Until she receives a proposal that could change her life - track and capture her father's murderer and she can keep her land and remain free. The only problem - Cohen killed her father.
Doesn't this sound like an awesome plot? I thought so; I was so excited for Ever the Hunted and was ready to go on a wild adventure. However, the book fell very flat for me. The entire synopsis happens within the first 50 pages of the book, and then...not much happens after that. There was a little bit of excitement that developed in the plot about 200 pages in, but that's a very long time to wait for action. So, if there wasn't much going on in the plot, what was happening for the entire book? For that answer, we have to discuss the characters (namely, Britta).
Britta is the most special of the special snowflakes. She has magical powers that she didn't know about until one day she suddenly performs magic. But Britta doesn't seem the tiniest bit concerned about the magic she just created, because she spends the ENTIRE book wondering why Cohen doesn't like her. She is supposed to be tracking her father's murderer, and yet on every other page, she is getting distracted by Cohen's smell of masculinity. Yes, that is actually how his scent is described - whatever that means. Britta is weirdly obsessed with Cohen's scent, which is described about a hundred different ways throughout the book. And she is constantly doubting herself and wondering what she did to keep Cohen from liking her, when he is CLEARLY in love with her. It seriously could not be more obvious. Britta's constant whining really bothered me as I was reading and kept me from caring about the characters or what was going on in the plot.
Ever the Hunted was well-written, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. It is full of classic fantasy tropes that we see over and over again in YA fantasy. That doesn't make it bad, it's just not very unique. It could still be an entertaining read, as long as you don't go into it expecting to be taken on a wild ride. Ever the Hunted is focused way more on the romance aspect than on the fantasy adventure. If you like kissing books, you may like this one a bit more than I did. I wanted an epic story, and I got angst, angst, and a heck of a lot more angst.
There is something else I need to mention that I noticed as I was reading. Ever the Hunted has a complete lack of diversity. Every single character who has their skin described is white. The only mention of any skin that wasn't pale was one little comment about the people living further south having slightly tanned skin because of the sun. That's it. Everyone is white. There was also a point at which a character scoffed at the idea of women being together. Full disclosure: Britta had asked if two Channelers (people with magic) could produce a powerful child. She was laughed at because all Channelers are women, so they obviously could not be together. Of course, it is true that two women cannot produce a child together, but the way this situation was handled in the book didn't sit well with me.
Ultimately, if you are a big fantasy reader, I would not suggest Ever the Hunted. Maybe if you haven't read much fantasy, you will enjoy it. But if you read a lot of YA fantasy, you have probably read this book countless times before. Also, if reading diversely is something that is very important to you, you will probably want to pass on this one. As for me, I don't think I will be checking out the next book in this series.