Thanks so much to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press & Wednesday Books for my e-ARC of A Far Wilder Magic!
The story follows two characters: Margaret and Weston. Margaret lives in a small town, where an event called the Halfmoon Hunt is happening soon. The hunt is for the hala, a magical fox. And while Margaret owns a hound named Trouble, she needs an alchemist in order to enter the hunt.
Weston, or Wes, is desperate for an apprenticeship as an alchemist. He travels to Margaret’s town in order to appease Margaret’s mother, a famed alchemist, to become her apprentice. But Margaret’s mother isn’t there, and Wes finds himself joining the hunt with Margaret.
There were so many elements of this book that I loved. Saft’s writing is atmospheric and lovely, with a dash of creepy when describing the woods and the hala’s dark presence.
The story has dual POVs, which I always love, and it’s character-driven. What I really appreciated about this book is that both Wes and Margaret are flawed characters. They feel very real, and their motivations feel very real, because of this. Wes is boisterous and utterly charming, but he’s also a swaggering womanizer. Margaret, on the other hand, is strong and stubborn, but she’s a recluse due to her absent parents, and is unwilling to let anyone in.
Their personalities are foils of each other—grumpy and sunshine—and I found that it worked well alongside their shared feeling of being outsiders. Both of them struggle against discrimination and ostracization.
I thought the slow-burn romance was well done. However, I will say I went into this expecting it to be YA, and while it definitely feels like YA, there are a couple of scenes, while not spicy, that do veer more towards NA. It’s just something to keep in mind when going into this or recommending it to teens.
My only critique is that the worldbuilding very closely mirrors our world in the 1920s. The city is a thinly veiled New York. The religions are almost carbon copies of Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism. I almost wanted this to be a true historical fantasy set in the 1920s, or the worldbuilding to stray a little farther from the real world. That being said, I think Saft handled the main theme of xenophobia/antsemtisim well.
I really enjoyed this one, and if you like flawed and dynamic characters, character-driven stories, romantic fantasies, and atmospheric reads, then I think you’ll enjoy it!
Pub day: March 8, 2022
TW: Antisemitism, animal injury and death, gore, parental neglect, panic attacks, nationalism and xenophobia