Cover Image: The Wolf and the Woodsman

The Wolf and the Woodsman

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Member Reviews

One of the previous reviews said that you have to sip and not gulp this book, and I could not agree more. I kept wanting to go back to the world of the story but I took my time and dipped in and out over a few days. It is a beautiful, multi-layered story with very human characters. The descriptions are beautiful, and while it does sometimes become gory, I stayed engaged the whole time. I especially appreciated that it features Hungarian folklore, which I'm not familiar with- it was so refreshing to read new elements of fantasy, instead of the ones that seem to be used again and again. I loved the explorations of Yehuli/Jewish identity and the way they influenced Evike's choices and the plot. Highly recommend for fans of female protagonist fantasy novels with creative worldbuilding.

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First, thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC I received in exchange for an honest review.

Ok, let's be honest, I wasn't NOT going to pick this up as soon as you say it's similar to Bear & the Nightingale and Spinning Silver. But also, don't get my expectations THAT high because the Winternight Trilogy is one of my all-time favs and will probably never be topped.

That being said, I really enjoyed this story. I definitely see the similarities in those 2 stories, but it was also a fresh tale for me with elements that I was not previously familiar with once you layered in the Hungarian folklore. There is definitely a father Konstantin figure, a Miryem figure, magic, monsters (both human and not), a journey (or several), a quest, a battle, self-discovery, enemies-to-lovers, familial love, and more. The magical system could definitely make people uncomfortable as there are elements of self-harm/mutilation involved. There are other content warnings people should heed as well for anti-Semitism, genocide, abuse, and gore to name some.

The story was well done, the characters' journeys were believable, and the world-building was strong (I personally love when the myths and cultural stories are layered into the larger story).

4.5 stars and would recommend

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I'm unsure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I was completely smitten by the first half of the novel. I couldn't help it—I'm a complete suckered for enemies in close proximity, when feelings of hate slowly begin turning into something *more*. But when the second half hit, I found I wasn't as invested as I used to be. Granted, it did take a different turn—slightly more political, world-wise, and further developed the main characger's, Évike, uh, character. But at that point it just made me realize how much of a child she tended to be, just lashing out with harsh words. It was difficult for me to be able to tell whether she should do that. But all I came up with was that it didn't make me like her that much.
I think that may have the point—and I admired that! Évike was definitely a refreshing character in that sense, so despite me being iffy about her, I did admire her somewhat.
I was also enamored with the world. It feels as if Reid went above and beyond making this world as intricate as possible. Countless stories, countless truths, countless nuances that made it come to life. I loved that the most of this book!
Overall, I think I'm giving this 3 stars. It wasn't for *me* but I can see others enjoying this!

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The Wolf and the Woodsman is a masterfully crafted novel filled with raw touching moments and the harsh reality of religious persecution and ethnic cleansing for the sake of nation expansion. Reid captivates her readers with her fierce main character Evike and the lone, disgraced Prince Gaspar. Their slow burn of enemies to lovers is one steeped in reclaiming identity and reckoning with the doctrines you have been taught all your life.

Reid's beautiful writing leaves you breathless, hurt, but still hopeful. I enjoyed this book so much. I saw myself in it and others. The faces of those forgotten in history's oppressive tellings.

A book that will be sure to leave imprints on many, many hearts. I can't wait to see this novel reach critical acclaim. This book deserves it, Reid deserves it.

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Wow. Just wow. Ava Reid has written an absolutely incredible fantasy story, one that everyone should read. Her characters are diverse and interesting, and I was so invested in not only their survival, but also their happiness. The enemies to lovers romance was incredibly well done, with a amazing chemistry between the two leads. The plot itself is what I would consider a standard fantasy plot, but the world building and characters really make it stand out. The world that Reid is incredibly rich and diverse, and the way she incorporated Jewish stories was amazing, and really cool to see.

The Wolf and the Woodsman is an incredible fantasy book, one I wish I could read for the first time over and over again.

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Sometimes you read a book and feel as though you just don't have the words to adequately describe the ache of emotion it's left within you and the brand it's blazed across your soul. This is one of those books for me.

First, I want explain just why I chose to pick this book up. It wasn't just that it's been likened to two of my personal favorites: The Bear and the Nightingale and The Witcher. Those comparisons surely fit. It wasn't just that it has a dark, woodsy fantasy setting, with a wild girl and a lost prince whose lives crash into each other and become irrevocably bound.

No, it's because it tells the story of characters caught between the worlds they are tied to. This story is inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish folklore. I am the daughter of divorced parents, with a father whose family immigrated from Hungary several decades ago. I was raised in recognition of this, and to celebrate it, but never actually knew my father or the Hungarian side of my family. And for that, I ache, because despite having traditionally Hungarian names on my birth certificate, I know practically nothing about the culture or my family's history.

In The Wolf and the Woodsman — with its rich and evocative fantasy setting — I found a connection to the fragments that compile Évike's soul and related so deeply to her journey of finding her worth and identity. Évike herself is half-pagan, half-Yehuli, caught in the grasp of a kingdom that feels no love for either of her peoples. Despite her pagan upbringing, she is barren of magic and shunned within her own village, where magic is coveted and revered.

While I am not Jewish myself, I was enchanted by the weaving of Jewish folklore throughout this story. Seeing the Jewish representation through the Yehuli people was so powerful. These stories are severely underrepresented in literature, particularly genre fiction such as this, and I hope publishers will take note of how enriching it is to see these stories on the page.

When the King's Woodsman come to take another girl for her magic, Évike is surrendered by her village with a lie, and she must pretend to be exactly what she's always desired to be. Except, amongst her captors she finds the disgraced, but true-born prince Gáspár, another soul caught between the worlds of his parents, and seeking redemption in the eyes of his people. Between each other, they develop a tenuous bargain that will prevent the shattering of their worlds and hope to bring peace to Régország. Of course, along they way they come to recognize the kindred pieces of their beings have become twined and their bargain grows into something much deeper and. The burn is slow and oh is it good, folks. *wink*

From page to page, it is clear how personal the telling of this story is for Reid and she captures it with her expressive and lyrical writing. Through her atmospheric storytelling, the reader is enfolding into a world where nothing is given without first taking, where even the trees themselves feel on the cusp of giving chase, and where the worst monsters live behind city walls and whisper prayers with reverent fervor.

It should be noted that this story is squarely adult, with references to and depictions of gore, genocide and sex. The world Reid has crafted is as wild and vicious as it is magical and hauntingly beautiful.

Hands down, this is one to savor as you read and one I won't soon forget. I look forward to reading more from Reid in the future and seeing this story in the hands of readers.

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THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN is a stunning, immersive, and deeply engrossing debut fantasy. A perfect intersection of lore, storytelling, and heart. This is a story about stories, and about the way that stories shape nations, cultures, and societies. TWATW is bloody and heart-wrenching, gorgeous and horrifying all at once. I spent much of the book with my shoulders tensed up to my ears, afraid to read the next page.

Reid's prose is so lyrical it swallows you whole. The world building is complex, rich with lore and stories and hard-to-swallow dynamics of oppression and hate. Évike is a perfect protagonist to see this world through - outcast and instrumental all at once.

I can't wait for others to dive headfirst into gruesome, magical, blood-thirsty world, and I can't wait to read all of Reid's future books. If they're anywhere near as incredible as her debut, I know I'll be amazed.

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I was thrilled to receive an e-arc of Ava Reid’s debut novel, 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙤𝙡𝙛 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙤𝙤𝙙𝙨𝙢𝙖𝙣. I may have screamed and pumped my fist in the air when I was notified. As a friend of mine once said: 𝐼 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑛𝑜 𝑏𝑜𝑜𝑘 𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑙𝑙. And Reid did not disappoint. Her story is an epic, gritty, and bittersweet adventure from start to finish. I adored our outcast duo, Évike and Gáspár, who are so wonderfully human in their desires, imperfections, and acts of heroism. Reid masterfully balances fast-paced and unpredictable plot with rich and complex world-building. If you’ve been searching for a book that blends mythical magic, enemies-to-lovers romance, and violent political schemes, this story is for you. But be forewarned: body horror is part of the magical system, so there are graphic, though not gratuitous, depictions of gore.

𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙤𝙡𝙛 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙤𝙤𝙙𝙨𝙢𝙖𝙣 opens in a pagan village where our strong-willed protagonist, Évike, is surrendered to a group of Woodsmen, a holy order that serves a corrupt and oppressive ruler and his nation. She is thrust onto a perilous journey with Gáspár, a brooding woodsman who isn’t quite what he seems. Despite their best efforts to loathe one another, they are inevitably drawn together as they brave monstrous creatures and harsh environments to save the very people who have made them outcasts.

𝗠𝘆 𝗳𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀:
☀︎︎ real, relatable and complex characters
☀︎︎ moody imagery that snarls and devours
☀︎︎ detailed mythologies that are woven into the fabric of the story through memories and conversations
☀︎︎ timely themes on othering and engendering ethnic hate and violence for political gain

This novel releases on 𝗝𝘂𝗻𝗲 𝟴𝘁𝗵, so do yourself a favor and pre-order now. I’ve already ordered the hardcover and cannot wait to add it to my personal library.

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This absolutely deserves the comparisons to Uprooted - not just because of the forests that play large roles in both books, but because Reid's prose is every bit as poetic and beautiful as Novik's. I don't know anything about the mythology Reid drew from, and that was immensely refreshing and fun; I'm so tired of seeing the same mythologies played with over and over. With something new, it meant I recognised nothing and couldn't predict what was coming, and I LOVED that!

This is a gorgeous book, and if there's any justice in the world, it's going to be an enormous hit!

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Wow! This was beautifully written and BRUTAL! The author took it where I thought she wouldn't several times! I love that this world was brutal yet the people persevere. This was so The bear and the Nightingale + The Witcher. I was captivated start to finish and really loved the characters. One of the best fantasy books I’ve read in a while

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A warm, thick stew on a winter day: Be careful to sip and not gulp. I would have liked to race through this one, desperate to know what was to come, but it's far too lush for big bites.

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The Wolf and the Woodsman was the second book I read in 2021, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my favorite of the year. Combining Hungarian and Jewish mythology, this book is beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down! Eviké, the main character, despite being ordinary compared to the other women in her village, is strong, smart, and determined. Despite the abuse she suffers from the women blessed with powers, she cares about her village above all.
I loved the political intrigue Eviké finds herself embroiled in, combined with the adventure aspect when Gaspar enlists Eviké to help him defeat his evil brother. Gaspar and Eviké’s relationship is incredibly slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers. Truly one of the best books I’ve ever read.

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A beautifully rendered world rich with mythology and populated by instantly memorable characters, great for fans of fairytale retellings and novels. I would have preferred a slightly slower pace however.

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One of my favorite upcoming books. Ava Reid is a brilliantly talented writer and I can't wait for this book to be on shelves. This one is destined for the growing classic canon of Jewish fantasy literature.

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Well done, Ava Reid! This was the last book that I read in 2020, and The Wolf and the Woodsman did not disappoint. This story follows Évike, who is an orphaned "wolf-girl". She lives in a community that has to give up one of the girls every so many years to the Woodsmen. The Wolf and the Woodsman was full of monsters and at times was a little scary! I would have loved for it to be a tad heavier on the romance, but besides that - this was 100% worth the read!

Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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An ornate fantasy novel that makes direct parallels and allusions to the experiences of feudal age Jews in Russia and eastern Europe. There's a lot of detail in this text and the prose could be labelled as lush. Readers should be aware that the story includes significant trigger warnings from torture to body horror and antisemitism, to self harm. For me the work was just too.....heavy. There's a misery in the characters and the world that feels omnipresent and unrelenting. While the characters don't necessary bemoan their fates there's a fatalistic inevitability that I found nonetheless depressing and wearying, particularly as the novel transitioned from the first major plot point (finding a magical tree) to the next.

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The Wolf and the Woodsman is a perfect book for winter, a delicious blend ofThe Bear and the Nightingale and The Witcher . It follows a twenty-five year old "wolf-girl" named Évike, a motherless girl who lives within a matriarchal tribe of warriors, magicians, and seers. However, their way of live has been deemed "pagan" by the devout king and his army of monster-hunting Woodsman, and every few years one of their number is plucked away by the king and taken to the capital to an unknown fate.

This was a gorgeous, evocative tale. While the prose tended towards the purple; it was still lush and lifelike, evoking nighttime woods and the heavy silence of snow. I loved the dark fairy tale aspects of the the story the best; flesh-eating monsters in the marshes, witches made of clay lurking in the woods. Be warned, this is often a heavily gory tale, with descriptions of blood and violence as prevalent as rich depictions of snow and rain.

The tension between culture, religion, and identity is also powerfully explored in this novel. This was my second favorite part of the story, in no small part because as a half-jewish, half-catholic woman myself I am extremely familiar with the ideological and emotional struggles of being caught between two very different theologies. Even more poignant to me was Évike's status as half Yehuli, a cultural group who directly parallel the Jewish people. Watching Évike learn about, grow to love, and integrate into her father's culture while still feeling like an outsider looking in beautifully captured a feeling I have had all my life but have struggled to describe.

Évike was an excellent protagonist. Brave and relatable, strong but vulnerable, her exploration of her identity was major draw of this novel. She is also a protagonist who thinks before she acts. Too often authors propel the plot with brash actions that border on nonsensical, but I enjoyed Évike's evolution from impulsive to considerate, as she realizes the butterfly effects of her actions on those she cares for. A small note, I also LOVED having a protagonist who revels in her strength. Évike is not small or waiflike. She is described as broad and solid and strong, and as a broad solid woman who is exhausted by fantasy women going on and on about how thin they are it was a refreshing to find one who felt more real.

Unfortunately, none of the other characters stood out as strongly to me. I was most disappointed by Gáspár, who revealed a layer or two of depth but for the most part felt flimsy and clichéd. Because of this I wasn't especially invested in their romance, which caused several significant parts of the novel to drag. The side character I ended up liking the most was cruel, fiery Katalin, and the development of her unexpected friendship with Évike. Overall, I thought this to be an introspective and ambitious novel that divided its focus just slightly too thin. While the romance didn't wow me, the fabulous atmosphere will certainly linger on in my mind.

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*Spoiler free*

I saw a flash of a picture of this book for a giveaway and was practically sold. Then I saw a flash on the description, a girl who has no magic because she has been abandoned by the gods, based on Hungarian history and Jewish myth, and the only survivors of a monster attack being Évike, the main character, and the cold, one eyed captain of the Woodsman. Then I basically fell head over heels for this book and definitely, definitely, wanted to read it. Trigger warnings: torture, antisemitism, physical abuse by parental figures, vomiting, animal death, self-harm, gore, body horror

This book opens with the most gorgeous title page. It seriously made my jaw drop. Finishing this book, I was struck with the same feeling. It might've taken those feelings to growing again, but grow again they did. This is a book that I find myself thinking about randomly and my brain continuing to come back to. It's the kind of good that's felt on a soft breeze or the quiet flutter of snow. Though, do not ignore the sharp bite of steel it also produces, because it is just as important.

I'm starting off with the writing because wow. It is breathtakingly gorgeous. It straddles the line of being gorgeous for the sake of being gorgeous and actually telling the story. Though, it does end up falling to the side of actually telling the story for me. I felt like there was enough plot and emotion and character to back up the writing. Seriously though, I was just in awe most of them with how words were strung together and the phrases that were present. Reid is TALENTED, and she lets the full breadth of it shine here.

It took me a bit to fall in love with a whole lot of this book, but I think that was part of the magic of it. I was unsure of Évike, of the aloof captain, of where the plot was going, even of the world. But, it's a slow burn to understand what this book is trying to do. It's a slow mesh of colors swirling together to make something starkly clear. The journey was worth it to me for this book. And even bigger, the journey was one of the parts that I loved most about.

This world is steeped in stories; there's stories folded into stories. It has the touch of a vast and expansive world, but only focuses in on a small part of it. There's splashes of horror and streaks of quiet and clangs of battles. It is an intricately woven world, one that Évike is trying to find its place in. It's a world that's incredibly dark, with monsters lurking in the forest and people hated because of the religion they practice. There's political turmoil and plots to kill kings. And all of this done and written in the most incredible way. It felt like I was submerged in it, until I found myself thinking of it and its inner workings even when I wasn't reading it.

I am surprised with how much I came to love pretty much every single character. I wasn't sure what their stories were going to be, and they took a bit of time to untangle, but it was amazing seeing where the threads were leading to. Even the characters who were rough around the edges, who felt like the prick of a needle, I found myself liking them even just a bit. There's even a bear character and bears are great. This also ties into how I felt about the relationships. There are tentative new friendships, quickly blossoming lust, but slowly blossoming romance (oh dang, forbidden romance and a road trip and they're both grumpy and enemies-to-lovers), and finding new family. All around amazing.

There are also parts of this book that get VIOLENT. To the point where my jaw would drop at certain scenes because of how bloody and gorey it would get. But I'm not saying this in a bad way! It's not done for shock factor, it's done because it's where the story is going. And this book does violet and horrifying well.

Also, this is definitely worth noting, instead of the Only One Bed trope, it is the Only One Tree trope.

This book contains so much. It contains a forests filled with monsters, plots to kill the king, political unrest and intrigue, writing that is breathtaking, and a whole lot of horror. I felt like this was two in books in one, but not in a bad way. It just packs so much into what it does have.

Overall, this is a book that digs under the skin with briars and brambles until I felt one with the forest. It's haunting in a way, quiet, but also something that isn't afraid to let itself be known. Really, if I have to sum it up, this book is incredible. It is everything that it is promised to be. I love it a whole bunch.

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