I had seen this book mentioned on a list in the spring of 2020 and put it on my GR list to keep an eye on it. It made it onto my most anticipated reads for 2021 and I was stoked to find it on NetGalley a few months later. So here we are!
This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review. Thank you.
The Wolf and The Woodsman
by Ava Reid
Stories don’t have to be true to be real…
In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. 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.
- stong female protagonist
- not romance focused
I enjoyed this read a lot however it took me over a month to read. It wasn’t because of the book but rather my own circumstances. I think my favourite thing in here is the flawless weave of several religions into the storyline.
Finally, an adult fantasy that reads like a YA! it makes sense for MC to be 25 years old with her experiences and not 16.
The story plot line follows Evike as she gets taken from her pagan village and makes for the city controlled by a different religion and culture only to fight hard to survive against anything and everything.
I felt the bullied childhood was a bit stereotypical but I can acknowledge the need for stories of fighting your bullies and overcome them by being better.
The story took several twists and turns and almost felt never-ending in a good way. I loved how there was always something else. I wasn’t shocked or super surprised but these twists and turns but kept me interested throughout.
The world, in general, felt large but on some occasions, it felt small and I didn’t like that. I think the main reason why it sometimes felt small was to do with the distance it took to travel by horseback to the far north. Only 6 days!
Anyway. I loved how so much of the religious world building took place through storytelling and the expression on Evike when cultural differences were apparent.
The magic in this story was all related to religion. The different religions had different magics and the magic was a blessing from whoever was the god. From Evikes point of view and her pagan traditions, the magic was related to that. From the prince’s religion, the magic was more the result of a sacrifice. While for Evikes dad, it was all about knowing and believing in the true words. Very interesting how intertwined the author made the magic and the religion. Maybe they believe that religion is magic if you only believe? I don’t so I wouldn’t know.
Evike is the main character and the only point of view we follow throughout the book. She is pagan and at the beginning taken from her home as a sacrifice to the king to keep them happy and in peace. Throughout her journey, I loved how free she was, both to do what she wants and to let her anger out. I found her so much better than a YA protagonist. She was more complex and diverse and mature at the same time. This story could easily have become a YA fantasy but Evike prevents that from happening. I loved that. And for that I loved Evike.
Yes but only side characters and in a positive light.
I didn’t see any stereotypes.
I honestly did notice much of the writing which is a good sign.
The story flowed through the book and I was carried along completely unaware of the current, the rocks or the river bank.
I enjoyed this read no matter how long it took. The religions and the magic made it super interesting.
I’m curious to see what the author does next.
Have you read this? What did you think?