Review: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Alexis stands in front of a gate in front of a forest, holding up a paperback copy of The Wolf and the Woosdman

Alexis:

What an amazing debut! When I first heard about this book, I knew I needed to get my hands on it.

It’s based on Hungarian history and Jewish mythology. The story follows Evekie, a so-called wolf-girl who lives in a pagan village in the middle of a forest. Every couple of years, the Holy Order of the Woodsmen come to collect a wolf-girl to bring back to their king, and this year, they come for Evekie. But Evekie soon realizes that the captain is actually the prince Gaspar, who’s trying to keep his bastard, blood-lusting brother from taking the throne and causing genocide. And Gaspar soon realizes that Evekie is not what she seems: she’s the only wolf-girl who’s barren of magic. 

This book has pretty much everything I look for in a story. I’m a sucker for creepy forests, and not only do the woods in this story have dark magic and creepy monsters, but walking trees! The story is rich with stories and a tangle of three different religions. The plot and the religions echo history, and the Yehuli people are a stand-in for the Jewish people, which makes the story all the richer and more meaningful. 

I loved that Evekie is 25; I’m always on the hunt for more new adult stories. I loved the Prince Zuko vibes of Gaspar, and the way their relationship often reminded me of Jon Snow and Ygritte from Game of Thrones

I haven’t even talked about Reid’s writing yet! Her prose is absolutely gorgeous and lyrical. Even when she’s writing about dismemberment and blood (which happens quite often, as the plot of this book is brutal) her writing is still beautiful. The way she carves images and the landscape on the page is *chef’s kiss*. 

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

TW: Self mutilation, abuse/child abuse, animal harm/death, murder, war, coded-antisemitism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, amputation

Review: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Alexis holds a library copy of The Bone Shard Daughter in front of a fence and trees.

Alexis:

At first, I wasn’t sure this book would be for me. I was unaware that it has a total of five POVs, some in first person and some in third person, something I’m usually not a fan of. The writing style is slightly more “tell” rather than “show,” and the book takes a while to set up the scene for each character.

However, I found myself drawn into this story. All of the characters have very interesting backstories and motivations, and I found their stories engaging, and the world itself to be fascinating. While Jovis’ perspective was my favorite, as he seemed to have the most personality (and more page time than the other characters, besides Lin) I never found myself bored by any of the perspectives. 

While the pacing remains fairly slow throughout the book, I hardly noticed it, because there was such an atmosphere of mystery and suspense; there were so many mysterious things working in the background that I found myself endlessly curious about, and I kept wanting to know what was going to happen!

While I sometimes struggle with the accessibility and writing style of adult fantasy, I found this book to be a great segway from my usual YA fantasy. It was also nice to see a fellow twenty-something in a book, as Lin is twenty-three.

So here’s what you need to know before going into this book:

Lin, the Emperor’s Daughter, is trying her best to get her memories back after an illness. She’s also trying to figure out what her father, who can wield bone shards, is keeping from her. 

Jovis, the Empire’s best smuggler, is on a mission to find his long-ago kidnapped wife. He finds a mysterious little otter-like creature, Mephi, who becomes his sidekick, and who quickly became my favorite!

Phalue is the daughter of Nephilanu Island’s governor. She’s a fighter who’s trying to win the hand of her girlfriend. 

Ranami, Phalue’s girlfriend, is a woman with a heart of gold who’s doing her best to make a difference in the world. 

And finally, Sand is a woman stuck on a remote island, whose job is harvesting mangoes. But she doesn’t remember why she, or the other island inhabitants, are there, how she arrived, or who she really is.

The Bone Shard Daughter is one heck of a debut, filled with political intrigue, creatures created from bone shards called constructs, and a chilling yet thrilling ending filled with twists and turns.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐