The Wolf and the Woodsman | Book Review

Title: The Wolf and the Woodsman
Author: Ava Reid
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of atmospheric reads set in a magical forest setting, fans of intricate world-building, fans of enemies to lovers
CW: torture, animal deaths, death, self-harm, gore (dismemberment, amputation, mutilation) antisemitism, child abuse, cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

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. 

𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• rich and evocative world-building, great atmospheric read
• compelling, lyrical writing
• Jewish mythology inspired
• Prideful prince brought to his knees
• Évike’s (MC) relationship with a certain family member

𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐏𝐄:
• pacing especially the last 10%
• I wish we could witness more resolution regarding certain aspects

Writing:
The writing style immediately drew me in. Whimsical and magical at times, there’s a dark and gritty atmosphere throughout the novel which is quite fitting to the tone of the story.

Romance:
If you’re a fan of enemies-to-lovers that are not only stuck with each other but must work together, boy, do I have a book for you. There’s a romance that will bring you to your knees. Your knees.

Setting & World-Building:
As previously mentioned, this novel is inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology. Additionally, the author states that this is a work reflecting and exploring nation-building. Therefore, brutal themes such as cultural genocide, ethnic cleansing, and religious persecution are explored in this novel.

Also, the scenes and experiences in this novel may give off visceral reactions. There were times where I had to physically put down the book and think, pace around the room, and pick the book up again. For me, being in the diaspora, struggles with identity and searching for a sense of belonging evoked such feelings and emotions I can’t quite articulate yet as I witnessed Évike’s journey. Évike is a character that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Despite exploring heavy themes, Reid ensures that joy, wit, and hope are woven throughout the story and I adored it. This is particularly evident when Évike is reunited with a certain character and certain interactions with characters.

Overall, The Wolf and the Woodsman is a riveting read, a book that must be savoured upon reading.

“𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐨𝐝, 𝐚𝐬 𝐈 𝐝𝐨, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐥 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐛𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞.
𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐝𝐚𝐲. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐰.”

𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒐𝒍𝒇 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒐𝒐𝒅𝒔𝒎𝒂𝒏, 𝑨𝒗𝒂 𝑹𝒆𝒊𝒅

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: culture, religion, and identity are explored in this novel

𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: fans of atmospheric reads set in a magical forest setting, fans of intricate world-building, fans of enemies to lovers

𝐂𝐖: torture, animal deaths, death, self-harm, gore (dismemberment, amputation, mutilation) antisemitism, child abuse, cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing

Thank you to @NetGalley and the publisher (@DelRey) for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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