Cover Image: The Wolf and the Woodsman

The Wolf and the Woodsman

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Member Reviews

This book had an interesting world building but it was also pretty slow paced and I got bored many times. While the romance itself was a major part of the story, I found it to not be convincing enough and I really didn’t know why they fell in love. The book did get better in the second half but I’m still not sure if I wanna continue the series.
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I was unable to finish this because I didn't feel like I wouldn't be comparing it to "For the Wolf," which I read very recently.  I gave it a shot, and when there were too many similarities I had to set it down.  I'm hoping with some distance I'll be able to enjoy it with fresh eyes.
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Évike, a wolf girl as she is frequently called, lives in a small village and happens to be the only woman without magic. The Woodsmen come to the village in search of a seer. Évike’s people disguise her and offer her as the seer. Évike is soon on a journey with the captain of the Woodsman as they make their way through the dangerous forest and get caught up in plots to overthrow the crown. 

This is an incredibly slow paced book that didn’t pick up until late which left me frustrated and at times bored. Nothing seemed to happen for the longest periods of time. 

Part of this, I think, is because of how it felt like it was repetitive at times. Sometimes I felt like I had already read that part, when I know that I hadn’t. Between the thought process of Évike and some of the sentence structures, there needed to be more variety. 

The Wolf and The Woodsman has a lot of ingredients that could make it an absolute banger, but this didn’t end up working for me. This was a solid debut with some good writing and interesting characters, so I am interested to see what this author writes next.
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This read very YA to me; the characters felt younger than their ages, and the religious and ethnic metaphor was a little too literal. I think the world was interesting, but there were a few moments where I was confused about what was happening because there wasn't quite enough world building. I would still recommend this to adult patrons who enjoy YA fantasy.
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“Will you tell me a story, wolf-girl?”

🐺I decided that instead of strictly reviewing the book I’ll tell you all why I loved it so much, apart from it being absolutely amazing.

🐺All through my life I had a love and hate kind of relationship with the country I was born in. I absolutely adore the scenery, the cities, the lush culture, the food and I can say a million other things that would scream home to me. But I also struggle with the political views and many other things I’d rather not get into on my platform of happiness.

🐺 As a Hungarian person I can’t tell you @avasreid how absolutely happy I was to see a book inspired by Hungarian folklore and legends, infused with Hungarian words and names. In the land of Fantasy that I love this was a rare treat for me. It somehow combined my love for my country and my love for english fantasy literature in one moody but delicious tome.

🐺 I also love how you were not afraid one bit to tackle all the uncomfortable truths of our past, present and hopefully not our future in a way that still left enough fantasy elements to take you on a wild journey of emotional turmoil.

🐺 This book is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read and I am sure that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I would also advise everyone to check out the trigger warnings before diving into this one❤️

🐺 I received this gorgeous edition from @illumicrate , even though the dustcover is pretty too, I have to say I am in love with the naked cover.
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The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid is a very detailed but rich story that involves Slavic and Jewish mythology. Pagan, non-magic Evike finds herself teaming with her worst enemy, only to discover the enemy is someone else. Enter intrigue, danger, torn desires, obligations, found family, and one woman who has to discover who she is to protect the ones she loves. Complex, gorgeous, and lush, The Wolf and the Woodsman isn't for everyone but rewarding for those who do tackle it.
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This is an incredible stand alone fantasy! Each sentence is its own masterpiece and when put together they create the most lyrically beautiful and immersive story. I originally gave The Wolf and the Woodsman 4 stars but after thinking about it more deeply through the process of writing this review, it is an obvious 5 stars.

The vibes are immaculate: dark and woodsy and creepy. I'm a little surprised it wasn't a fall/early winter release as it is the perfect fall read! It is very gruesome and contains on-page violence and mutilation which took me by surprise but did not feel gratuitous. The gore was necessary for the story and fit the vibes, as gross as that may sound.

The beginning felt a little info-dumpy but not to the point where I lost interest and was pulled out of the story. Some parts of it were written so that it felt like the end of the book when in fact it was the middle of a chapter, but I honestly think that might just be the author's writing style and it's not even a real criticism I have. Just something I noticed and found interesting.

But overall I quickly became obsessed with Évike and Gáspár and the angsty tension between them. It was pure perfection.

The author has said they aim for "a realistic representation of the oppression and marginalization experienced by ethnoreligious minorities." And I think this is executed absolutely perfectly. It really tears apart the violence of nation-building and nationalism and religious persecution. These themes are expertly woven into a story and manage to resonate with the reader on every page while not being obnoxiously preachy or in your face.

I cannot wait to see what Ava Reid puts out next!
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Just jumping right on the bandwagon here--

I loved this. It is such a savage, unkind fairy tale; it reminded me of the way fairy tales used to be. Grim and dark and dangerous and not at all tame. Everyone has something to lose and something they're unwilling to give up no matter what -- high stakes and high emotions all. the. way.
The monsters are monstrous and some of the people are not much better; "love" in Evike's world isn't like any love I'd want, fraught with unthinkable choices and bitter sacrifice. 
The world-building is excellent; maybe I just hate the cold and ice, but the landscapes came alive and I could easily imagine Gaspar and Evike's misery while they quested through the wildlands. The character development was right on, the side characters were interesting, the conflicts were textured and multi-faceted and <i>hard</i> and that's the way they're supposed to be. 

I read the book before I read any of the blurbs about the book, and I kept thinking "this feels really Eastern Bloc, like Czech or something"; it felt familiar. Then I recognized the Esther story later on, and was even more intrigued -- what is this? and when I finally read what Reid had done I was incredibly impressed. The story felt wholly new, but also well-worn and just oozing with tradition. I very much respect her writing and her style, and look forward to encountering more from this author in the future.

Thanks NetGalley for the eARC!
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The Wolf and The Woodsman definitely leans more towards literary fantasy than epic, high fantasy. The whole story has the feel of a fable, complete with plenty of folktales and a bunch of rather soft magic systems.

There's a lot to like here -- the writing is good, Evike is a strong and rather unlikable character whom I thought was very interesting to follow, there is a wealth of Jewish lore threaded lovingly throughout the narrative, the villain was fantastic, and the story was engaging enough to keep me reading despite a slump.

However, I didn't love this as much as I wanted to, and I think that's mainly due to the romance, which is meant to be the heart of this book, but I simply could not believe it at all. I just never got why the two leads were in love, or when they fell in love, or how, and the entire foundation of their relationship felt incredibly flimsy. This is one of those instances where I think the focus on the romance was detrimental to the overall plot; I think this would have been such a great opportunity for a platonic relationship, because personally I felt no chemistry between the two leads at all.

The narrative also feels very uneven here; the first half of the book is taken up by a journey that ends up meaning very little, though I understand its purpose was to develop the relationship between the two leads. Then the second half of the book tries to focus on court politics, but then doesn't really (although this was my favorite part of the book, I have to say), and then things just feel like they happen because they need to, and that's that.

I still think this is a great debut and I will certainly read whatever the author puts out next!
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Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Voyager for the ARC! 
I unfortunately was unable to read this before the release date due to family and COVID related complications, but it only took about 50 pages for me to buy a copy in order to lend it to friends after I had finished. 
This book has everything I love in fantasy - rich, beautiful writing in a cold and dark landscape, beautifully explored magic systems rooted deeply in culture and history, characters that come alive and a strong narrative voice. This book gripped me immediately and wouldn't let go. I adored the cold, harsh world and adored the moments of heartbreaking familial warmth even more. The growing feelings between the Wolf Girl and the Woodsman were compelling and understandably fraught with all of the anger, hurt, and fear that existed between their respective cultures and religions, and the tenderness that began to build between them was lovely to watch develop. 
All-told this has become a new favorite of mine, and one I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a dark, cold, and incredibly vibrant fantasy.
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Though this started a bit slow for me, I absolutely fell in love with this atmospheric and dark fantasy adventure. A wonderful slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers, this book explored carefully the power religion and upbringing hold over who we become as people, and how prejudices and learned thinking affect groups of people. The worldbuilding was unique but beautifully inspired by real culture and history and I thought it was rich and captivating world that the story was set in. All in all, filled with great drama and tension, heart stopping and heart wrenching moments, and a great read.
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This I found very atmospheric! It wasn't a perfect book, sometimes I found it a little confusing to follow and the pacing was definitely off in places, but I liked the tone of it. Something sinister and weird about the whole thing. I liked it. Might check out the finished copy to see if some of the things I had issues with were resolved.
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An interesting retelling of  the combination of Jewish and Hungarian mythology. Kind of reminds me of Deathless by Catheryenne Valente. I feel like Reid shouldve used the fairytale-like style rather than combining both of fairytale-ish and regular style. It's kinda slowpaced. Fortunately I like the characters mainly Evike so kind of make up for it..
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This is a good book; it's just unfortunately not one for me. I'm really not a huge fan of first person, especially in secondary world fantasy novels, and that just worked against this book.
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it has been close to two months since i finished the wolf and the woodsman and i’m still struggling to express my thoughts on it, so i’m resorting to pros and cons. (sorry!)

pros:
– ava reid’s writing is gorgeous. i want to cram a dozen quotes into this review because i was obsessed with the prose. every once in a while i find an author whose writing is exactly to my tastes and it makes me so excited to see what they do next.
– the exploration of religion and culture is so nuanced. reid handles a lot of very heavy themes—religious oppression, cultural genocide, ethnic cleansing—through the lens of the patritian, pagan, and yehuli populations in régország. reid’s background in religion and ethnonationalism is very apparent throughout the novel, and i mean that in the best possible way. 
– i haven’t read either of the comp titles yet (spinning silver and the bear and the nightingale), but the dark, bloody fairytale vibes here are magnificent. 10/10.

cons:
– i struggled with the pacing. there were so many stories (told by évike and other characters) that pulled me out of the main storyline.
– the characters and romance fell a bit flat for me. i love a good slow-burn romance, but this one just didn’t click. they had some great lines and i always love kneeling (especially when there are religious metaphors involved 👀), i just wasn’t invested enough in either of them to care about their relationship all that much.
– certain words and phrases were so repetitive. one example is the “évike thinking/fantasizing about gáspár” scenes; i feel like you could shuffle most of those scenes around in almost any order and get the same effect.
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TW: Self harm, gore, genocide, abuse, torture, antisemitism

Wow! What a powerful and beautiful fantasy! In this story we follow Evike, who is the only woman without any kind of magic in her pagan village. In her village they worship old gods and for that they are punished by the royal family and those who now worship the new religion (more Christian coded religion in terms of sacrifice and modesty). As punishment the king sends his Woodsmen out into the pagan villages to bring back a young woman as sacrifice. Since Evike has no powers of her own and the village desperately needs their seer, she is sent in the guise of her childhood tormentor. She is soon discovered by one of the Woodsmen, who turns out to be the cast out Prince. Together they find some of their goals align and they must work to make sure the prince’s half sibling does not make an attempt to usurp the throne. 

There is so much more going on in this story that I don’t want to spoil but if you love fairy tales steeped in Jewish and Hungarian lore I think you’ll love this. Oh and just know that this has a delicious enemies to lovers romance full of angst and forced proximity. 😉 

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for providing me with a copy of this book to review. All opinions and reviews are my own words and I was not compensated for this review.
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A great debut which tells a village girl and her journey alongside the prince. Ava Reid's writing reminds me of Allison Saft's Down Comes the Night, a book I read early this year...it's full of breathtaking imagery and prose. I think most of the memorable parts of the book is the writing craft. It really fits the mood and theme, twisted and dark, almost like a spellbinding folktale. 

However, I have trouble trying to finish the book from start to finish. I struggled to connect with the characters (the romance, too). It seems Évike and Gáspár are quite flat and it's disappointing since the world is lush and unique. I really like how Reid explore her cultural identity and background in this fantastical world. It feels refreshing to read a passionate Ownvoices novel. Now back to the characters. Gáspár is fine...for a love interest, I don't expect much from him but the main protagonist, Évike, I just think she's a little off-putting. I get the author is trying to write her as a strong female character but she's quite childish and unlikeable. Other times she's rude, and so on. There isn't one consistency in her character throughout the book and it left me more confused than ever. Overall it feels more of a YA novel than adult. 

I ponder what rating I should give this book for quite sometime. In the end, I decided to give it 3 stars. Thank you Netgalley for this e-arc for exchange of this honest review.
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The Wolf & The Woodsman is dark story inspired by Hungarian mythos and Jewish folklore and  the history of oppression of religious minorities. This book contains violent monsters, a strong leading lady, and a slow enemies-to-lovers romance. There is also a heart-breaking portrayal of anti-semitism and genocide in this fantasy world. 

This book is gorgeously violent, make no mistake that none of the body horror or descriptions of battles and   monsters is overdone. It all has a purpose to the story. Ava Reid did a perfect job of utilizing these dark themes to make her point. Her descriptions are lush and dream-like, which contrasts harshly (but perfectly) with the terror and brutality of the world. 

This book has been one of my favorite reads of the year.
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2.5 stars
This was alright overall, but I wasn't hooked throughout the whole book. Please note that this is very much an adult book, with heavy violence, gore and a sprinkling of sex. Not YA.

I liked the idea and concept of Jewish and Hungarian history and mythology. Since I know nothing about either, I can't say for certain whether the execution was great or not. The romance was pretty good, and I wished that aspect was explored more extensively. Évike is definitely a more toughened, no-nonsense heroine and the hero Gáspár is a soft-boy prince, which worked well for the dynamic between them and the enemies-to-lovers journey they go through. This also had forced proximity, huddling for warmth (similar to an only-one-bed situation), and forbidden romance– all the tropes I like.

However, whenever the plot got interesting and the characters are in a pickle, there would be a pause for one person to tell the story about a god, myth or the history of how a certain magic came to be, and that frequently took me out of the story and action. It got too heavy-handed for my liking. As the story progressed, I wasn't too engaged anymore as much as I was at the start, unfortunately.


⚠️ Content Warnings (provided by the author):
- Gore, including graphic descriptions of dismemberment, amputation, mutilation, and immolation
- Torture, including whipping
- Animal death (graphic; the animals are not pets)
- Antisemitism
- Cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing
- Physical abuse by parents and parental figures
- Graphic descriptions of vomiting
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This book was wonderful. The world building, the characters and the plot had me flying through the pages of this book and wanted more. Ava Reid's writing is exquisite and her characters were well drawn.
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