Today I’ll be doing a book feature of ‘The Wolf and the Woodsman’ by Ava Reid, out 8th June! Thank you to Ava Reid, Rachel Kennedy and Del Rey for the chance to be on this tour!
It’s not Friday, but let’s have some first lines anyway (these ones are great):
The trees have to be tied down by sunset. When the Woodsmen come, they always try to run.
I love how dramatic and full of action these lines were – they really pulled me into the story and perfectly set the tense, darkly magical atmosphere.
What’s This Book About? (Synopsis from Goodreads)
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.
Current thoughts (pg. 156 of 418)
- I’m so happy there’s a map (my ARC edition didn’t have one yet)! It’s definitely come in very handy, I’ve flicked back to it so many times I’ve lost count. Really helps visualise the journey Évike and Gáspár take early on in the book, as well as the detailed world-building.
- WHY am I such trash for enemies-to-lovers? I’m really enjoying the development and can’t wait to see what happens next!
- Both lead characters already feel quite complex even though it’s still quite early on in the book and we (so far) hear only from Évike’s POV.
- It’s a lot more gory than I expected, though to be fair this is adult fantasy (not YA or NA I believe). I think the author wrote about this (plus content warnings) in their Goodreads review and I’d just forgotten lol
- With its depiction of religious oppression and the incredibly atmospheric setting, this is definitely living up to the blurb’s comparison to Katherine Arden’s ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ (my review here), which I’m really pleased by because I loved that!
- There is a lot of mythology and folklore folded within this, so obviously that’s another win for me. I noticed a parallel between one of the folktales recounted by Évike and what happens in her actual life, which was SO satisfying to spot.
- The writing is so intricate and Reid uses lots of refreshingly original descriptors. I’ve learned so many new words in just the first few chapters alone!
- Even though the blurb gives out a lot of information about the early parts of the story, it’s vague enough as to how things happen that I still found myself shocked each time.
- on a tangentially related note, this gives me comfort in general because I’ve accidentally been given huge, character-death level spoilers for ‘Rule of Wolves’ and the Kdrama ‘Hwarang’…but at least the how of it is still a mystery.