Happy Publication day! Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK for providing me with an E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Wolf and The Woodsman: ★★★★☆
Adult Fantasy Standalone
Published June 8th 2021
The Wold and The Woodsman Synopsis:
In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.
But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.
As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all. [Goodreads Synopsis]
The Wolf and The Woodsman Non-Spoiler Book Review
Trigger warnings; this book contains scenes/mentions of gore, violence, self harm and other scenes that readers may find upsetting.
The Wolf and The Woodsman is a character-driven debut fantasy standalone that combines popular fantasy tropes with Jewish folklore and Hungarian history.
The writing style draws you in, and it feels like you’re reading a folktale. The descriptions are whimsical and real, everything is so descriptive. This is a story where the characters take centre stage – there is a heavy focus on Évike, we see the world through her eyes. All of her fears, longing and anguish are laced within every sentence. She is an unlikely heroine, but one that you love nonetheless.
Évike is from a pagan village on the edge of a supernatural forest. While Évike is mistreated for her lack of magic, she shares a common enemy with the women – the woodsmen. They arrive one day and demand a wolf girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is led to her demise.
The Wolf and The Woodsman is such an apt title for this book. This is the tale Gáspár and Évike, of their journey to the capital. Using the enemies to lovers trope, the book delves into their opposing religions and beliefs, their disdain towards each other, and their longing. They are sworn enemies, and Ava Reid captures their frustration with one another very well.
I love action and drama, and Reid delivered. The grim gore and the bloody battles against monsters and witches and powerfully people brought the plot back to life whenever the pace began to slow down. One threat was banished, and another appeared. The politics within this world were complex, focusing characters to consider situations from every angle, even the ones they wished they didn’t have to consider.
Overall, The Wolf and The Woodsman is a solid adult fantasy debut. Ava Reid weaves sworn enemies together in a bloody and dangerous tale, filled with court politics, intrigue and betrayal. I recommend it to those interested in character-driven enemies to lovers fantasy, and those who enjoy books influenced by folklore and history.
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Thank you for reading,
Nicole / HalfWildBooks