Title: The Wolf and the Woodsman
Author: Ava Reid
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Historical Fiction / Mythology
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: 3 stars
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review.
“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)
Since I’ve liked books by both authors mentioned in the blurb on Goodreads (Katherine Arden and Naomi Novik) I decided I wanted to give this book a try. The blurb for it also sounded promising as well.
There are a lot of things I enjoyed about this book. The use of mythology was refreshing from others I have read as I can’t recall ever reading a book about Jewish Mythology. It was also interesting from a historical perspective as the author blended in Hungarian History. Both of these topics I know nothing of so I can’t comment on them besides from a readers perspective.
In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Évike who is 25 years-old and known as a wolf-girl. She is a pagan to those who don’t share the same beliefs as those in her village and ever year the Woodsmen who work for the king come and take one wolf-girl away. Her mother was taken ten years before and so Évike was raised by the village táltos. Not only has she struggled with that and not knowing her father, she also is barren when it comes to the magic of their gods. I can’t say that I connected with Évike but I did admire her determination and forgiveness. She also remained calm in a lot of situations I wouldn’t have been.
The plot is filled with religion, politics, and can be on the darker side at times. There is a hint of romance but it is very minor and it didn’t really add anything to the story for me. I felt that their progression was quick and then it just died off for angst and inner turmoil from the characters.
The pacing at times can be a bit off and this is probably why I lost interest at times to read.
Overall, this was good. I had my issues with it but I can see many readers liking this one especially if they are a fan of lyrical prose writing.