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. 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.



The trees have to be tied down by sunset. When the Woodsmen come, they always try to run.


absolute favourite:
I came for the dark folklore and was promised along the lines of The Bear and the Nightingale, and I could not be happier with this Hungarian version.

The scope of this book is epic – where others would have split it into two or three books, Reid tackled it in one, and it made me so happy. I was never bored, and the highs and lows of this adventure kept moving, fueled by blood and lore.

As someone with a Hungarian surname, I once made an attempt to learn the language (if you were unaware, it is freaking difficult), and I have to say that The Wolf and the Woodsman has inspired me to try again. I was hooked from the first ‘igen’, and it might be time to fire up Duolingo again in 2023.

The Wolf and the Woodsman is dark, twisted, and incredibly complex. The characters come from all different backgrounds, and the misunderstandings and prejudices are stark on the page. With multiple faiths and different magic systems, it’s almost too much for one world to contain. But I loved the storytelling inherent to each culture, and as the characters find areas of overlap, connections are formed, and differences end up less important than they first appeared.

I remember how the fire roared to life in front of the captain, so sudden and sure. Any wolf-girl would have marveled at such a fire, easily as impressive as the work of our best fire-makers. We would have called it power, magic. They called it piety. But what is the difference, if both fires burn just as bright?

As someone who always complains about happy endings, I badly wanted one here. Sure, things are better than they started, but it’s a little too vague and disconnected for me. You’re the king! Just marry the pagan already! Even being so far from her father for most of the year made me sad after they’d only just found each other after years apart. Who needs realism? I wanted a happily ever after here.
With vivid imagery, even in its goriest moments, The Wolf and the Woodsman was better than I expected and more than I was hoping for. I’m not sure why the Goodreads rating does not reflect my experience, but I’m so glad it didn’t keep me from reading this incredible book.

Once I would have been eager to abandon Régország entirely, if I’d ever had the chance and the will to leave it. But those kinds of bitter perversities seem behind me now. I have felt my father’s arms circle me and heard the temple filling with Yehuli prayer; I have had a man hold me through the cold and promise to follow me wherever I go. It weighs me down, that love, fettering me to this terrible destiny.


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