When a vicious beast threatens the land, the royal family must make sacrifices to defeat the menace and save the people.
Something is rotten in the kingdom of Lachlanach. Tension simmers between commoners and the Lashed, who are barred by law from performing their magic. Birth rates around the kingdom are down. And, worst of all, a savage beast is making the rounds every night, killing all the men it encounters. In desperation, the king invites hunters from all neighboring lands to enter a contest—whoever slays the beast wins the hand of his eldest daughter, Princess Aerity, in marriage. But this hopeful solution grows complicated when Aerity grows fond of a specific hunter. The beast, too, is a surprise, as it turns out to be a different sort of creature than first assumed. Higgins has written a familiar yet compelling damsels-in-distress novel. A group of talented female hunters who are able to attract the respect of the men and the admiration of the women adds a welcome twist. The princess and her female relatives manage to exhibit a flare for coming through in emergencies, though they are perfectly willing to let the men do the heavy lifting when danger gets too close. As this book is the first in a duology, it fittingly ends with a cliffhanger.
An enjoyable-enough fantasy with a healthy sprinkling of romance. (Fantasy. 13-17)