Hunted (N. M. Browne)

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Hunted cover art (hardback edition)

Hunted by N. M. Browne (June 2002, Bloomsbury, New York and London) is a novel about a young woman in a coma who becomes a magical red fox in another space and time, where she plays a vital role in a rebellion against the king.

Plot summary[edit]

Karen, a high school student living with her grandparents in our world, is chased down by her classmates, beaten unconscious and left for dead, all because she had a conversation with another girl’s boyfriend. While her body lies comatose in a hospital room, her soul travels to another world, into the body of a red fox. The fox is also being chased… by hounds. She seeks shelter in a shepherd’s hut, with the knowledge of the shepherd, Mowl. Why does he help her? Because he recognizes Karen-Fox is an Arl, an unborn soul in animal form.

Mowl wants to help Karen, but suddenly discovers he has problems of his own: an orphan, he learns he’s the only son of the traitor who killed the former king. Since the father is dead, it’s the son who’s to be hung for the crime, and the army has arrived to arrest him. Suddenly on the run from the king’s men, Mowl and Karen-Fox travel cross country to a neighboring town, where Mowl seeks out the local shaman to help Karen. Arl’s have a lifespan of 21 days, after which they must transform, or parish. The shaman gives them a potion that allows them to communicate telepathically, but when they return the next day, the shaman is dead and they must resume their flight from the king’s men. When they seek another shaman, they learn that the king is having all the shamans murdered, along with anything else related to the spiritual world. The king's new religion says that there is nothing else beyond this world, which means that an Arl can’t exist; and those that do are to be eliminated, quickly and quietly.

Across this world new temples are being built at taxpayer expense; huge new taxes that the common folk can’t afford without starving. A rebellion is afoot, and Mowl, since he is to be hung for treason anyway, decides to join in. After a run in with the king’s men, Karen-Fox is captured and taken to the king as proof that the beast believed to be an Arl is nothing more than a common fox, proving the new religion is right. The king orders Karen-Fox destroyed, but the queen takes her in as a pet. The queen is no fool, and recognizes an Arl when she sees one. She enlists Karen to help her; the queen is being kept prisoner, but must somehow let the rebels know that they have her support. Only with the queen’s backing can they gain followers. Using a secret passage, Karen-Fox escapes the castle with a new bodyguard, the same solider that captured her, now working for the queen.

Karen and Mowl reunite, and with the queen’s endorsement, gather forces to lay siege to the royal castle, and discover that the king Mowl’s father killed may not actually be dead. Things are going well...

Except Karen’s body lies in a hospital bed... Karen-Fox’s twenty-one days are nearly up…

And none of it may be real…

External links[edit]

  • Author N. M. Browne's website.
  • Hunted] on author's website.