Dark and atmospheric, The Wolf and the Woodsman had me in a chokehold from the first page until the very last. A nuanced look at the violence of religious persecution and nation-building, this book is full of Jewish folklore and is beautifully crafted with the most delicious reluctant enemies-to-lovers romance.
Eternally grateful to Fadwa for screaming about this book until I added it to my TBR. The book had me in a damn chokehold and I can’t stop thinking about it.
About The Wolf and the Woodsman
Publisher: Del Rey • Release Date: June 8, 2021 • Pages: 448
Age Range: Adult • Genre: Dark Fantasy • Format: Hardcover • Source: Owned
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.
In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.
💀 Magic system based on body horror
😈 Enemies to Lovers
👑 Disgraced prince brought to his knees
🌲 Darkly atmospheric
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Read an Excerpt
abusive parent, animal sacrifice, antisemitism, bullying, colorism, gore, self-harm, torture
My Review of The Wolf and the Woodsman
“The trees have to be tied down by sunset. When the Woodsmen come, they always try to run.“
If you are looking for a lush and dark atmospheric read, look no further than The Wolf and the Woodsman. This book is not YA., it deals with very heavy topics and concerns characters in their mid-twenties, so be sure to look at the content warnings and make sure you’re in the right headspace when you pick it up.
The world-building is all encompassing and the world spins itself to life around the reader as they read. From customs to history to religious practices, everything has been considered in crafting this world and it’s laid out for the reader beautifully. Reid provides just enough information to situate the reader and get them hungry for more without the pacing ever suffering.
“No one in Keszi knows what the king does with the wolf-girls. Only that they never come back.”
Évike and the people of her village live in the fear of the Woodsmen, highly pious soldiers who over the years have taken dozens wolf-girls – the latest? Évike. Little do the Woodsmen know that she’s “not like other girls” but not in a good way: she’s the only one in her village without power and will be useless to the king.
Let me tell you: I love Gáspar. I am a sucker for taciturn and broody men, bonus points for disgraced princes, and he’s got a lot of layers to his character. There’s something truly delicious about watching enemies slowly warm up to each other on a journey, particularly when the broody one is fighting it. The scene on the frozen lake? I screamed. The romance is full of reluctance and forbidden desire, and I am here for it.
“You have the uncommon ability to make me doubt what I once thought was certain.”
The narrative is slower paced but never boring and is both character and plot-driven. The book is full of Jewish folklore and honestly feels magical to read. I found myself craving more: more interactions, more history, more lush writing. I heavily annotate basically everything I read but was so engrossed in this book that I struggled to put it down long enough to capture my thoughts. The entire book is a feat and Reid is an author to watch as she continues to develop her craft.
Highly recommended to readers who enjoy atmospheric reads. The pace and writing style won’t be for everyone but if it is for you? You’ll probably go feral.
Recommended if you enjoyed…
No two readers experience a book in the same way; this was mine, but what about you?
💬 Have you read The Wolf and the Woodsman yet? If so, what are your thoughts?
💬 Did I convince you to add this book to your TBR?
💬 What books would you recommend with reluctant enemies-to-lovers?