Title: The Wolf and the Woodsman
Author: Ava Reid /Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Sci Fi & Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.01
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.
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.
I’d like to thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House for approving me for an ARC of this book.
Saskia Maarleveld was an excellent narrator. She brought fire and passion to Évike’s story and gave Gaspar a distinctive voice that matched his broody, stubborn personality perfectly.
To begin with I found there was a lot of information to take it. There were a lot of names and different factions to get my head around however this did not spoil the listen or the story. We were thrown straight into the action where Évike has been betrayed by her pagan village and offered to the Woodsman as a seer.
From the start it was clear that Évike would not be a pushover. She had a fire in her belly that made her more terrifying then the others in her village. She also had nothing to lose so she was prepared to take risks and stand up for herself. I had complete admiration for her choices and wanted to see her survive and succeed. There were moments when we saw her softer side, with her father and the heartache she had endured from losing her mother. All of imperfections and insecurities made her a brilliant protagonist.
Gaspar was an entirely different character. Not worthy of the crown he had been forced to do the King’s bidding and it made him stubborn, moody and full of honour. Gaspar has been hurt too, the resentment and torture etched on his face but that is what bonds him an Évike together. Two people not wanted by their own kind find themselves drawn to each other and their slow burning romance was my favourite part of the story. You could feel the tension after the attack, at the start, and as they were together it only grew stronger. The early banter between the two made me smile because you could see where this was heading. It might of helped that I could visualise Chris Hemsworth as Gaspar which made the read even more enjoyable 😉
Aside from the romance we have factions at war, power hungry brothers, a quest and a brilliant final battle. This story is beautiful and brutal at the same time, filled with tender moments and gore that are not for the faint hearted. Top it off with a magic that brings to life the mythological stories and you have a read like no other. The ending was done in such a way that I hope there is a sequel, not because we are left with a cliff hanger but I need to have more!!!