I began reading The Hunt For Elsewhere thinking that it was going to be a children's fantasy story - cute, sweet, funny, and filled with adorable animals somewhat akin to Bambi. What I found instead was pleasantly surprising, emotionally gripping, and a fascinating read, though it was a bit strong for young children.
I loved the unique and genuine personalities that each of Beatrice Vine's characters have in this book. She brings us into a world of predator and prey, where animals must often kill not only for food, but for survival and protection, and they must teach their young to be selfish, ruthless, and just as deadly as their forbears. But when a young fox named Saxton starts learning that there might be a bit more to the world around him than cold-hearted ruthlessness, a series of events unfold that set him on a path to change many lives for the better, and some for the worse. At times, this story is playful, fun, and maybe even a bit cute, and at times it is heart wrenching, brutal, and as violent as one would expect in a real depiction of animal interaction.
Nearly all good books I can think of have aspects that are easy to be critical of, but upon finishing this tale, I can't think of much that I would change. If had written a work like this, I would have struggled, if not completely failed, to make it through some of the heartbreaking moments in these pages - but for this, I commend Beatrice Vine for her bravery in taking on such raw and difficult content, and for seeing the story through in spite of its painfulness. I might not have created animal characters that were as human-like, or brought quite so much realism to their natures - but again, this is a feature that brought me to understand and empathize with the characters on a level that I probably wouldn't have otherwise reached.
To sum it up, The Hunt For Elsewhere is a well written, well rounded, and emotionally gripping tale that I'm glad to have experienced, especially since it's outside of the realms that I might normally have chosen to explore.
In my humble estimation, this book rates five stars without reservations, and it has left me hoping to read more from Beatrice Vine in the near future.
(reviewed the day of purchase)