Book Reviews

Review: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Like everyone I know, I too am utterly captivated by The Wolf and the Woodsman. Knowing very little about the story going in, reading was an immersive experience. Reid is able to balance an unhurried pacing, with action and character intrigue which pulls readers forward. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.

Summary

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.

Review

(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Wolf and the Woodsman is a story about two outcasts trying to win against a tyrant with seemingly insurmountable odds. It’s a story of enemies to possibility, of betrayal that turns our stomach, and the hands of fate. Woven throughout a story of magical, and dangerous creatures, Reid examines clashes of religion, culture, and sexism. I was immediately drawn to Évike, the ways she’s hardened her heart out of necessity. Reid’s The Wolf and the Woodsman presents compelling, and endearing, characters with action that propels readers from the beginning.

As someone who has never belong, there’s something foundational, transparent, in Évike and Gáspár. The ways there are forces, religion, and power between them. All real obstacles that end in knife points and bindings. But underneath it all, there’s this utterly similar undercurrent that they do not belong, the hatred of those around them, and the feeling of fighting against the tide. The Wolf and the Woodsman is multi-faceted, asking if they could ever bridge the divide and recognize something so universal and essential within them.

Overall,

Secrets they hide, wounds that never healed, Reid delivers characters that spread their vulnerabilities across the page. Could a bond be formed that defies everything they’ve ever been taught or believed? Solidarity in the face of cruelty. One that fights against the hatred and intolerance swirling around them. Because while there is plenty of plot movement, there’s an epic feeling of action. Conflicts between the effects of dehumanization and how it chips away at you, at those who hate reducing them to their fears and power.

The Wolf and the Woodsman has a bit of it all. There’s romance, character development, and action. Amongst the pages you will find romance, celebration and happiness as acts of resistance, clashes of faiths, and bids for power.

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Find The Wolf and the Woodsman on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.

Discussion

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