Cover Image: The Wolf and the Woodsman

The Wolf and the Woodsman

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this. I liked the fairytale style of writing and the idea of magic requiring a sacrifice. The romance was great too, a lovely slow burn enemies to lovers and lots of chemistry between Evike and Gaspar. The plot was great too, with plenty of tension and opportunities for betrayal.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Compared to books such Spinning Silver and The Bear and the Nightingale ought to have made me think about reading this one; neither of those books filled me with the love of a good book. The former author has written many much better books. This one has no real lyricism to the writing that would take you from one event to the next. Instead it feels like a constantly changing narrative with too many characters and too many inter- nicene battles. I never really got hold of the complexities, who had what gift or who had who's support. It was a very difficult and laborious read. The ending in particular was seriously uninspiring with little seeming to have changed.
Was this review helpful?
This was very much a book of two halves for me. I found the first half a bit slow and found my attention wavering whilst I was reading. However, once the story moved to the city, I found the narrative much more engaging. I loved all of the folkloric tales woven into the narrative and thought that these really added to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, I didn't find the relationship between the main characters particularly interesting and this contributed to the slowness in the first half. Overall, I think this was a good book with some fascinating commentary on religion, but the pacing was a problem for me.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
It was painfully slow and uneventful, DNFed halfway through. Despite an interesting background, the plot itself dragged horribly. I was initially really intrigued by where the events were leading, but at some point I stopped caring - it seemed all that was happening was walking from place to place, and the stops along the way failed to grab my attention. There was no tension, just another "obstacle" to check off. 
The main characters didn't particularly earn my affection - moreover, their romance followed a classic "we hate each other, but the lust is just too strong", which is the flavor of enemies-to-lovers that I personally can't stand.
Overall, wasted potential.
Was this review helpful?
Firstly, a huge thank you to Del Rey UK and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

I hate that it has taken me so long to get round to reading this book, but I'm so pleased I have finally had the time to read it!  I adored this book and completely understand why everyone had been talking about the novel on Twitter for months before, and after, its release! It's definitely one that is going to stay with me for a long time and I will closely be following Reid's future works. Reid's writing is simply superb, from the characters to the descriptions, to the dialogue, everything simply felt right and all flowed together wonderfully. The balance between the unsettling moments and characters with the hints of romance was just right and a joy to read.

Our protagonist, Évike, was brilliant she was feisty and flawed which had me fall for her instantly. Unlike the other pagan women, she doesn't have the ability to use 'magic' yet instead of pining for this power, she learned that it was a blessing in disguise as it meant she would never be taken by the Woodsmen. Well, until now that is. I loved how complex each character was, regardless of how much we would see them throughout the novel. Each character we're introduced to has such a strong presence which I really enjoyed, even if the character wasn't likeable. 

When it comes to the characters, the way that Reid has written how they interact with each other made them feel like genuine people and it became so easy to become absorbed into their world. Of course, I can't talk about character interaction without mentioning Évike and the quiet, broody, Woodsman Gáspár. I loved their dynamic; the pacing of their relationship was so well done, you slowly see them grow and develop but never abandon who they are as individuals and their own values. They complemented each other so well in temperament and in their beliefs. 

Reid expertly navigates the different beliefs and cultures that are introduced in this novel, not only as their own entities but also as parallels to religions in our own world. Not only did these parallels further captivate me and pull me into the world as it made the world feel even more real, especially because of the little details that are brought to each one; but it also did a brilliant job of building the intense tension of fear and unease that many characters, of differing cultures, felt at the hands of Gáspár's cruel brother. 

Overall, there are so many more things I could say about this novel, however, none would be able to do this novel the justice it deserves. This book is a definite must-read for those who like the darker side of folktales. I'm thrilled I've finally experienced this novel, however, I'm sad that I will never be able to read it for the first time again.
Was this review helpful?
An excellent novel drawing on Jewish folk lore, unlike anything I've read before. This is a claustrophobic tale of acceptance and finding your family, even though they might not be who you think they are.
Was this review helpful?
A perfect debut by a marvellous author. The Wolf and The Woodsman is good book that everyone who likes a good story. Ava Reid is a author to be watched.
Was this review helpful?
This was beautifully written, and I wanted to learn more about the lore and mythology of this world, but sadly the main characters made that impossible for me; they simply got on my nerves and I found myself rolling my eyes at their actions at times. However I'd still be interested in reading Ava Reid's future works.
Was this review helpful?
Spoiler alert/

Somehow the second book I've read this month where blood right turns out to be a sexy theme and makes me go D: In this one our prince is being overtaken in every way by his more charming more popular half brother who obviously is also super evil to facilitate Gaspar's sexily legitimate claim to the throne. The book is also about belonging & the difficulties of mixed heritage which is always a theme I appreciate reading about but it ends up feeling really clumsy in this book because they talk about race in (fantasy-appropriate) terms of "blood" and they talk about right to the throne in terms of "blood" and...perhaps you can see where this is going. It is heartwarming that Evike comes to this realisation: "For so long I’d thought my mixed blood a curse, blamed it for the absence of Isten’s magic. [Now] I think that blood cannot be either blessing or curse. It can only be." And it would work way way better if the literal previous page hadn't had Gaspar answering the question "By what right do you claim the throne" with "Birthright. Blood." Please didn't someone notice this. It ruins your themes! Is blood a neutral quantity with no bearing on you or is it a symbol of divine right to rule! It can't be both! Oh my god. I think I need to start avoiding royalty books. I'm frothing at the mouth

For a story that so explicitly makes itself about - among other things - where its protagonists Belong, there's remarkably little done with the theme. Towards the end of the book I actually became convinced that Evike would end up resettling with her father in the Yehuli part of town not necessarily because she had gone on a journey of learning her heritage & carving out a place for herself (she goes to temple 1 time) but because it was the only other place open to her and I was sure she wouldn't end up back in her hateful hometown. Surprise, she ends up in her hateful hometown! She even mentions that her peers still dislike her and want to call her names! They don't though because she's a war hero now. Gaspar definitely seemed unhappy in the capital city but at the end of the book has been crowned and is still in the capital city. I don't get the feeling that either of them have found any sense of belonging or peace, only that they've proven themselves useful and thus aren't treated like crap by everyone around them anymore. Which is not quite the resolution I was hoping for!

My final point of contention with this book was with its magic, mostly that it existed so tangibly. The empire is exporting their gods to its subjects, and resisting them are the pagans in nature and the Yehuli who are extremely unambiguous fantasy Jewish people. Which is fine except all the gods are real -- the pagan gods, the Yehuli god, and the empire gods all coexist, apparently, and each group can do different magic through their worship. This one boggled me, actually. I really feel like you can't import earth world religious persecution to a fantasy land where all the gods are real and worshipping them has real, tangible results. Am I being unfair?? I've never been religious, I'm coming at this like an alien. I can see the argument that faith-based belief wouldn't be affected by the presence or absence of actual miraculous action so persecution would be the same but I have a hard time believing it. 

Anyway look. I didn't hate this book. I thought it was fine. I liked that there was Jewish inspired fantasy! I really slowed down at the end because that's when all these themes were coalescing into a shape I disliked but a book has every right to do that. If nothing else I did truly feel like the text was trying to express its various ideas throughout and that was enough to keep me engaged and at least somewhat interested. I am glad to be done though
Was this review helpful?
Oh how I adore the fantasy books that have come out this year! It has honestly been almost overwhelming how many good books made their appearance, which is why I took longer to get to The Wolf and the Woodsman than I intended to. But oh how my patience was rewarded. I honestly couldn't have asked for anything more during the one cold, dark winternight in which I read this book. Thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Wolf and the Woodsman is a novel about differences and whether they can be bridged. Religion plays a major role in this book, both in the organized and in the personal sense. We get aspects of nation-building, extremism, and the propaganda required to keep those two going. While this novel depicts these things, it is in no way an endorsement or understanding participant in these. Reid unflinchingly shows the dark side of these undertakings, the way in which it not just victimizes minorities but actively persecutes them. These are heavy themes, but they are important to address in fiction, specifically in a genre like Fantasy which has so often, at times unconsciously, peddled in racist caricatures and positive representations of imperialism. The Wolf and the Woodsman is a great example of how fiction can help readers consider and address these themes, without overwhelming them. 

Évike is a wolf-girl, except... not really. She has no powers to speak of and her father was an outsider to the village, a Yehuli taxman. After her mother is taken by the Woodsmen, she grows up under the begrudging tutelage of Virag, ignored or bullied by the rest of the village. So when someone has to be handed over to the Woodsmen as tribute no one blinks an eye when Évike is offered up. So begins an adventure in which Évike is forced to confront her own concepts of herself, her origin, religion, and her role in the larger scheme of things. The Wolf and the Woodsman is a novel full of powerful questions and themes which are always at play under the surface yet never entirely overwhelm the plot. While the stark differences between Évike and Gáspár consistently cause angst and confusion, they also contirbute to the delicious tension that runs throughout the novel. I adored Évike, with her stubbornness, her aching desire to fit in, and her blazing passion. Gáspár is a great foil for her, with a more quiet, if no less fiery, passion and an awareness that strength must sometimes be hidden until the right moment. The wider set of characters each brought something vital to the story and felt like fully realized people, with their own thoughts, emotions and histories. A slight exception may what we could call the "main villain", but as we don't get a real perspective into their mind that may be expected.

I absolutely adored Ava Reid's writing. The way she incorporates tales into her story, as well as the focus on understanding one's self through the tales we tell. It is how I read books, in an attempt to put my own feelings and thoughts and ideas into words. Seeing this reflected on the page is beautiful. As someone who grew up religious and steeped in mythology and fairy tales, I found much to connect with. What really stood out to me in The Wolf and the Woodsman is the beautiful world-building. Reid mixed Hungarian, Scandinavian and Jewish mythology to create a world that feels lived in, but also a world of stark differences. I loved the extensive and loving portrayal of the Yehuli, who represent the Jewish people, and the care taken in showing their traditions and beliefs. The marketing compared this novel to The Bear and the Nightingale and they do share a similar tone, in that folklore and mystique hums throughout the entire novel. A mild warning, this novel does contain scenes of violence and abuse, physical and emotional, both by others and by people to themselves. Ava Reid herself described it as a "magic system based on body horror" (Source). I do believe this is well-explained and worked into the story, in the sense that there is a reason for it and it is contextualized well, but it may be triggering to people nonetheless. I can't wait to read more by Ava Reid, I am utterly in love. 

The Wolf and the Woodsman was absolutely worth me waiting for the right time to read it. I devoured it in less than 24 hours, utterly bewitched and enchanted, but also wiser after reading. Treat yourself this Christmas, while the nights are still dark.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this so much more than I can put into works. I think this world was one of the best fantasy worlds I have ever read. These characters were absolutely amazing, the love between the two main characters made my heart swell. I loved it.
Was this review helpful?
I was really impressed by this , it was so much more than I could imagine. I admit I thought  this was just going to be a reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood, but this is so much more than that , it’s so much new mythology and history to me that I hadn’t known much about before (Hungarian) and it was so immersive. The world-building was fantastic, as was the magic system and the writing was beautiful. I loved the slow burn romance (did I mention it was enemies to lovers 😍) This is a wonderful debut and I will definitely be looking forward to future books from such a talented writer 

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Was this review helpful?
Reid deftly paints a rich and complex picture of a kingdom steeped in ancient magic, but broiling with religious and cultural tension. I was entranced from the first page, with her beautifully constructed prose and unique storytelling.
Was this review helpful?
Being an outsider can be dangerous.

Being an outsider in a small village in the forest surrounded by monstrosities is worse. 

For Evike, being the outsider who is the only girl without magic when soldiers of the king arrive seeking a victim for a blood sacrifice means that, uh, oh, she's it. 

Based on Hungarian and Jemish myth, the snowy forest setting may seem like a familiar fairytale landscape, but this is a darker and more brutal beast. While there is a little more violence, and even some mentions of self harm than is typically found in YA, there is definitely a home for The Wolf and The Woodsman in fans of Naomi Novik, and Katherine Arden.
Was this review helpful?
I started this book hoping it would end up being one of my favorite books of the year: the writing style is beautiful, the world building amazing and everything had this dark fairytale mood.

However, and even though I appreciated the aforementioned details, I couldn’t connect with Évike, our main character.  She was harsh, savage and selfish. Her defense mechanism was to draw blood first, apologize later, and she treated Gaspar (and almost all the cast of characters, to be honest) poorly. Also, at some point, the writing style stopped being that beautiful and started feeling quite repetitive.

All things said, it was a good read. I truly enjoyed the different quests that our MCs embarked in, and the lore the author created. I will be definitely checking out more of her books in the future.
Was this review helpful?
This was a beautifully written slow-burn fantasy novel that weaves together Hungarian folklore with interesting ideas about gender and race. I'm keen to read more from this author!
Was this review helpful?
The Wolf and the Woodsman had the potential to be a great book but it just ended up falling flat. The characters were interesting and, for the most part, quite well-developed, the plot on the other hand was largely disappointing. A large chunk of the story seemed rather unnecessary and was quite irrelevant to the rest of the story.

At times I felt the story would have flowed better if had been a duology or trilogy rather than a standalone.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really interesting fantasy and I love that it’s a standalone. The world building is very rich. I found the plot very slow however and didn’t love the romance but still a solid read.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

I was expecting this to be a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and was pleasantly surprised when it went much further than that. I don't know much about Hungarian history but from this little slice, it sounds bloody and I'm intrigued! Reid manages to balance a complex political plot alongside discussions of family, belonging, xenophobia and religious tolerance, and that the love story element doesn't overpower this or feel tacked on is testament to Reid's writing.
Was this review helpful?
Wow... this book was just fantastic. The premise immediately hooked me, and from the first page I was enthralled. Evike is such a brilliant and nuanced character, I loved her so much. This book came alive with the characters and the care that was embued in them - they all felt so real. I was really intrigued by the world-building for this one, and the magic system, too! Reid's writing, as well, is amazing. The descriptions of the scenery and landscape particularly stuck out. There were a few moments I felt a little lost while reading, but that's likely my own fault! Thank you to Netgalley and Ava Reid for the opportunity to read this!
Was this review helpful?