The Wolf and the Woodsman

The Sunday Times Bestseller

Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld
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Pub Date 08 Jun 2021 | Archive Date 09 Jun 2021

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Description

Brought to you by Penguin.

A dark, evocative and unforgettable fantasy debut steeped in Hungarian history and Jewish mythology, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden.

Stories don't have to be true to be real...


In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. 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.

'Rooted in history and myth, The Wolf and the Woodsman is a stunning debut . . . It will twine like a dark forest around your heart.' Samantha Shannon, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Priory of the Orange Tree

'Gorgeously written and grimly real, The Wolf and the Woodsman quite literally took my breath away. It has the unsettling-but-compelling gore of Henderson's The Year of the Witching, the folkloric lilt of The Bear and the Nightingale, and the moral complexity of Seeing Like a State. I'm obsessed.' Alex E. Harrow, Hugo-award winning author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

'Assured and compelling throughout, and the worldbuilding is richly imagined, densely textured, and endlessly delightful.' Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor

'Reid has crafted a story that is not only relevant for our times, but has timelessness about it that truly makes it shine. The Wolf and the Woodsman is not a book I will soon forget.' Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart

'Combining religion, magic, and evocative language, Ava Reid has created a daring fantasy world full of imagination and fierce heroics' Luanne G. Smith, bestselling author of The Vine Witch

'The Wolf and The Woodsman is one hell of a ride. I couldn't put it down.' Greta Kelly, author of The Frozen Crown

'One of those transportative, delicious books that completely engrossed me for a full day.' Samantha Rajaram, Author of The Company Daughters

© Ava Reid 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Brought to you by Penguin.

A dark, evocative and unforgettable fantasy debut steeped in Hungarian history and Jewish mythology, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden.

Stories don't have...


Advance Praise

'Gorgeously written and grimly real, The Wolf and the Woodsman quite literally took my breath away. It has the unsettling-but-compelling gore of Henderson's The Year of the Witching, the folkloric lilt of The Bear and the Nightingale, and the moral complexity of Seeing Like a State. I'm obsessed.' Alex E. Harrow, Hugo-award winning author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

'Assured and compelling throughout, and the worldbuilding is richly imagined, densely textured, and endlessly delightful.' Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor

'Reid has crafted a story that is not only relevant for our times, but has timelessness about it that truly makes it shine. The Wolf and the Woodsman is not a book I will soon forget.' Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart

'Combining religion, magic, and evocative language, Ava Reid has created a daring fantasy world full of imagination and fierce heroics' Luanne G. Smith, bestselling author of The Vine Witch

'The Wolf and The Woodsman is one hell of a ride. I couldn't put it down.' Greta Kelly, author of The Frozen Crown

'One of those transportative, delicious books that completely engrossed me for a full day.' Samantha Rajaram, Author of The Company Daughters

'Gorgeously written and grimly real, The Wolf and the Woodsman quite literally took my breath away. It has the unsettling-but-compelling gore of Henderson's The Year of the Witching, the folkloric...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format, Unabridged
ISBN 9781473592759
PRICE £10.83 (GBP)
DURATION 13 Hours, 9 Minutes

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (AUDIO)

Average rating from 50 members


Featured Reviews

Headlines:
Unique fantasy standalone
Dark and sinister moments
Get lost in the visual imagery

This felt like such a fresh story to me with three different belief systems intersecting through the characters. It was a story told in the forest, plains and sometimes cities and villages. I was happiest reading when the story was in the forest even though that where the monsters were.

Evike was a character to get behind, she was complex, morally grey on occasion and resillient. She was ever at the mercy of whatever people she was with. Her self discovery of her lineage, the faith of her father and the Yehuli people were fascinating and the chinks of light in this tale. Gaspar, woodsman and a man with many facets, was equally complex and how their grudging collaboration evolved was great reading. The friendship was a slow burn for sure.

There were monsters, witches, creatures with powers, kings with powers, megalomaniac princes and the kind of tales told to really give you the chills. This easily scared reader coped with it all and it conveyed a murky atmosphere of not knowing what was around the corner. There were some dark and gory moments but they truly added to the story.

I was fortunate to read the hard copy and audio for this and the narration was superb. The characterisation and dialogue fitted that dark atmosphere I described so well.

I thought this was a great debut, a standalone to recommend and I can't wait to read more by Ava Reid.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the early review copies.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the Publishers for giving me the opportunity to review the audiobook early!

Being Hungarian, I was extremely impatient to read this book, and I couldn’t be happier to have read it before most others.

The story is compelling, the characters easy to relate to and they have depth to them. I enjoyed the world building of this book, and I hope we get to see many more books from Ava Reid in the coming years!

I loved the narrator of the audiobook, I think she did a fantastic job at making the book feel athmospheric and compelling - however I’m sorry to say, she grossly mispronounced all the Hungarian words 😂

I could mostly figure out the names she was trying to say (the Évike pronunciation was driving me up the wall though), but I had to refer to the book when it was a word that was supposed to mean something (boszorkány for example, she was saying something like bazarkannya - not a clue without reading what she meant!), because I just couldn’t figure out what she was trying to say. I think my favourite mispronunciation was ‘gulyás’.

4 stars, only because of the google translate/generic-word-generator-videos non effort with the pronunciations. There are websites where native speakers upload pronunciations (like Forvo), but we are not that hard to find either - any would’ve probably happily sent you voice notes on how to pronounce these!

Otherwise, the book was great and I hope everyone enjoys it when it comes out in June! ☺️

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A beautiful and amazing world-building debut that had me intrigued from the very first page and listening to the story every time I had a spare minute. The culture mixed with the magic, a dash of romance and a female lead who is truly relatable with her 'not-wholly-perfect' and ‘still-discovering-herself’ ways, makes this a book a lovely read.

The experience of listening this book was one that I cannot quite explain in words. The audiobook was brilliant read and so just helped capture the world even more with the characters voices matching my vision of their personalities and characteristics. You do not need to much knowledge for the inspiration of the Jewish mythology and Hungarian history to shine through and see how it has moulded itself into the story. Listening you can easily see the references as part of the amazing world Reid has created. Unlike some authors who try and force real cultures into their stories, so it stands out like the sun in the sky; with this book, it was like part of the painting creating the entire artwork as one incredible piece.

Ava Reid's style of writing brings you into world of the woods she has grown, creating a fantastically atmospheric and easy flowing story. Meaning you can read or listen to page after page without wanting to put the book down or being cut out of the world, with this book you are fully emersed.

So, there are a few negative comments I have, and when I say a few, I mean only a few. There was this amazing world I was shown, but I felt like I was being shown such a small piece of it that it was like looking at the earth compared to the galaxy. Brilliant and beautiful in itself, but just lacking the full picture and depth I wanted to see. I also struggled with the romance between the main character and the love interest, as it felt a bit unreal, especially at the end where it was slightly rushed in my opinion. That may just be me though, as my love interest preferences are normally a bit...on the darker side, instead of a knight in shining armour. If a knight in shining armour is your type though... you are going to love this one!

Although the themes and storyline style can be compared to that of Naomi Novak; I would highly recommend this book for any lovers of 'The Beast and the Briars' and any of Katherine Arden's work. An engaging and well thought out story that ended too soon.

A massive thank you to the amazing Netgallery and Penguin Random House for sending me an early review audiobook of this wonderful book. I look forward to the rest of the book community discovering the Wolf and the Woodsman.

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Perfect for fans of The Bear and the Nightingale and Naomi Novik! The Wolf and the Woodsman perfectly combines fantasy and romance to deliver a story that is sure to win many fans.

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This is without a doubt one of the best books I've read all year and I cannot recommend it enough!

Everything about this book was done perfectly and so I can't fill this review with any critiques because I have none. I wouldn't change a thing. The writing was spectacular and there wasn't even one page that I didn't love. The characters were brilliant and their character development was done exceptionally well! The romance was everything I wanted and more. (If you're a fan of the Matthias and Nina's flashbacks in Six of Crows, you are going to love the enemies to lovers relationship in this book.) And bloody hell, the plot was terrific; I was constantly freaking out over it!

Everyone needs to stop what they're doing and add this book to their tbr list! It's out on the 8th of June and there is no excuse for not reading it!

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I loved Saskia's narration!
I will update the review with a link closer to publication date.
I'd like to thank the publisher and netgalley for providing me with the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

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I'm in pain. the way this book was so deeply Jewish hurt my heart. I feel like I've just read a love letter to Jewish culture and history. I absolutely fell in love with Évike and Gáspár, mean girl and soft boy of the month.

I can't exactly why I'm writing this and crying at the same time. this book simply meant a lot to me, and finishing it seriously feels like saying goodbye to a part of myself. watch me reread it whenever I need to feel seen and loved.

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Audio ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Audio review first: Saskia Maarleveld was a great choice of narrator. Clear, engaging and giving nuance and depth to the text. Great audio book

Main review: The Wolf and the Woodsman is an adult fantasy with it's roots firmly buried in folklore. There's a hint of Grimm's fairytale, a smidgeon of Jewish myth and a fair amount of Slavic and Russian inspiration. Evike is a 'wolf girl', a pagan from a small village outpost on the edge of a dangerous forest, filled with strange and dangerous supernatural creatures. The women of her village all possess some form of magic - from the simplest which is lighting fires, to the most difficult types of 'forging'. Evike does not have magic and has always felt like an outcast because of it. Her fears are confirmed when a detachment of soldiers from the Holy Order of Woodsmen come out of the forest and inform the village that the king has demanded a wolf girl. Evike is handed over to the woodsmen and taken away from everything she's ever known - just as her mother was years before. What follows is a solidly plotted dark fantasy fairytale with magical creatures, dark bargains, a look at the lack of identity that can come from being mixed race and denied access to one side or other of your family. The book also targets conflicting belief systems and the oppression that goes with them.

At the heart of the story Evike undergoes the greatest transformation, gradually learning who she is (spoiler alert but no chosen one here) and gaining understanding that despite the customs and beliefs that divide us, more units us than divides us if we will just exercise a modicum of tolerance. There's a well executed enemies to lovers story here too but kept firmly as subplot. This is a book about learning to see the truth from all angles, realising you won't ever have all the answers and building relationships from the most unlikely of beginnings. Highly recommend.

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In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. 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.

I listened to the audiobook of The Wolf and the Woodsman and Saskia Maarleveld has narrated it wonderfully.

I have seen reviews of this book likening it to The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and personally I don't see the resemblance, apart from the setting of the book the comparisons end there. The writing is beautiful but the plot wasn't really for me, however, I have no doubt this will be hugely popular and I'd be interested in reading more from the author in the future.

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I read this book in one sitting. It felt both WAY too short and like I'd been reading it for years (in the best way). This story was so impeccably paced, with characters surprising me at every turn, their intentions slowly falling apart and muddling along with their staunch beliefs. Every component in the book was crafted perfectly, especially the clear inspiration drawn from Hungarian and Jewish Mythology. I loved seeing the characters and their motivations collide with the solid, immovable nucleus of lore that Reid created.
My favourite part of this book is (and always is, say it with me, folks) the main character. From the first page, I was smitten with Évike's cockiness, her grit and her integrity. She enhanced every scene with her commentary and insanely relatable decisions and motives. Évike is an example of when the commonly used 'orphan-outcast-with-no-friends' character profile is executed perfectly, creating a whole living, breathing entity that readers can identify with.
The descriptions of the scenery were sublime (never gratuitous) and the dialogue was gritty and real. Not only did the plot/characters suprise and shock me but so did the writing! I was not expecting the (very tasteful) amount of gore/body horror or the (filthy) steamy scenes and I was absolutely giddy with it all.
I became addicted to the way this book made me feel; it had the perfect balance of literal, before-your-eyes magic and more metaphorical is-it-just-in-her-head magic, taking me back to my favourite middle grade stories that were all thick with allegories. The tone of this story was steadily dark, but had glimpses of innocence and of pure, blinding hope that felt extremely comforting and nostalgic to me.
I would recommend this book for adults who loved Ella Enchanted growing up and want a saucy, gory and insanely well-researched upgrade.
As a quick sidenote, the audio narration by Saskia Maarleveld was absolutely magical. They brought The Wolf and the Woodsman to life so expertly and made this dark, twisty tale completely unforgettable.

Thank you to PRH, Del Rey and NetGalley for this advanced audiobook, I'm eternally grateful.

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Full review live on my blog from 7th June.

Thanks to Del Rey for the ARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.

Content Warnings: graphic gore, torture, self-harm (including self-amputation), graphic animal death (not pets), antisemitism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, physical abuse by parental figures, vomiting.

I actually was able to listen to an advanced audiobook edition of this book, and I thoroughly recommend it if you like audiobooks. The narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, does an excellent job with all the characters and is very easy to listen to. The Wolf and the Woodsman started a little slow, to be perfectly honest. I was a little confused in the early chapters, and found myself slowing the audiobook down so that I could keep track of what was happening. Despite that confusion I was still very firmly enjoying it. The slow start gave the romance a real chance to develop naturally and shine. And when this book picked up? It picked up.

One of the most gorgeous things in this book is the way the folklore elements were threaded throughout. Combined with Ava Reid’s beautiful writing style, it made for a lyrical and potent read that felt steeped in magic. Even the graphic gore felt somehow poetic and I know I’ll be reading anything else that Ava Reid comes out with – her writing is just so wonderfully readable and they created characters that felt real. I loved the slow burn relationship between Évike and Gáspár. The isolation that their journey presses upon them makes them rely on each other despite their ingrained animosity, and I loved watching the complex way they have to learn to live with each other. There’s a scene in particular that actually HAUNTS me in its intense beauty, and despite being aro (and kind of ace), it was so hot that I literally had to sit down for a minute. That is rare for me, as I don't usually get much interested in m/f romance.

I couldn’t review this book without mentioning the way that it approaches the complexity of nation building and cultural identity, with Évike struggling to balance the facets of her heritage that she’s never known with the facets she does. Ava Reid covers the violence and intricacies of ethnic cleansing and persecution in a fantasy world, specifically focusing on the history of Jewish persecution. It was raw and painful to read at points, and all the more powerful for it.

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The perfect blend of dark and sinister fairy tale and forbidden love.
Loved it - end of.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing an advanced audiobook (the narration of which was just perfect) in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you so much to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with this eArc

A MA ZING!!

I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!

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I was utterly enthralled by this book.
The writing was lyrical and descriptive, the magic was unique and yet completely understandable, and the characters were all well rounded and complex while also all growing within the story.
The reader was perfect and told the story beautifully.
One of my favourite books of the year!

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Sometimes it's hard to review a book because you have a lot of things to say, sometimes good, sometimes not so. This time, I'm struggling because I'm lost for words. This book absolutely blew me away. The skill, the lyrical elegance, the sheer beauty of it... With a backdrop of myths and legends supporting a story that has something in it for everyone, there is nothing to not like about this book. Utter brilliance.

The narration combines with this and makes way for an audio book that you won't want to turn on because you don't want the story to end, and won't want to turn off because you don't want to miss a word. Perfection.

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The comparisons with Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden are spot-on with this compelling and surprisingly gory fairytale.

Narrated skilfully by Saskia Maarleveld, the world in 'The Wolf and the Woodsman' is imaginative and unforgiving. I find I often struggle to stay interested in fiction audiobooks as opposed to non-fiction ones, which was less of an issue with this one. I even found myself sucking in a breath at several points. With an overabundance of similes aside, Reid's prose is beautiful to hear.

That said, I found the book a little too long, causing my attention to wane at some points; this also made the climax feel very rushed. I enjoyed the story more in certain moments than for the sum of its parts - but enjoy it I did.

(With thanks to PRH and NetGalley for this audiobook in exchange for an honest review)

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The Wolf and the Woodsman – Ava Reid

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.

This is my first audio arc! I received a copy of the audio book from Netgalley and while I really liked the app and the player, I think I would have rather read this physically. I think the narrator’s American accent was just a bit distracting considering this is set in Hungary. That aside though, this was a fascinating adventure!

Jewish mythology is my favourite kind of mythology and I loved hearing about the Hungarian culture and folklore. You might be wondering why this is being featured in a post about horror and body horror, well… that’s because it is full of gore and body horror. It really doesn’t hold back when talking about sacrifice, mutilation and racism. This was great fun and I’m interested in reading more from Ava Reid, just make sure to check out her content warnings over on goodreads before diving in, there are a lot of them!

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Audio books are not something I usually use to read books and I don't know why because I always find them enjoyable. The narrator is usually well picked and creates atmosphere with their narration. The one picked for this audio book was chosen appropriately, she was able to capture the various tones for voices and the scratchy sounds for specific characters, I enjoyed listening to her.
The book on the other hand was possibly not my cup of tea, it was quite gory and descriptive about this. The way that the author uses Hungarian and Jewish influences is interesting as I haven't read many books with such themes included and the plot seemed like it was thought out but I just couldn't get engaged with it as I wish I could have.

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