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ARC & Audiobook Review: A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft

Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Synopsis:

When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist–yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive that long.

In A Far Wilder Magic, Allison Saft has written an achingly tender love story set against a deadly hunt in an atmospheric, rich fantasy world that will sweep you away.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I can see why one of the comp titles for this book is the Scorpio Races. This has a similar sense of place and magic, and a slowburn love story (though it’s a bit more physical). It slowly pulled me in until I was thoroughly hooked.

The writing is gorgeous and I highlighted several quotes. I also was able to listen to an advance copy of the audiobook and the performance was really excellent. The narrator was able to give each character a unique and recognizable (and believable) voice, and really brought the text to life.

Margaret, the main character, is cold and prickly and closed-off, trapped alone in her silent manor and barely alive. Wes burns with ambition, is impulsive, and has a large, loud family. It seems like they would never get along — and at first they don’t — but their gradual coming together is believable and romantic.

This book addresses religious prejudice well, making Margaret and Wes outsiders because of their family’s religion. They are bullied and tormented but they bear it and overcome it with empathy and grace.

The pace is glacial at first, and while it never gets anything like fast, it does gradually increase. I recommend giving it longer than normal to hook you because once it draws you in it really is a magical read.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Wednesday Books, and Macmillan Audio for providing an e-arc and audio arc of this book.

Favorite Quotes:

“A little tragedy is good for the constitution.”

Beneath his fear, there’s a glimmer of relieved acceptance. Mauling, he thinks, is a preferable death to shame.

She scours every surface until it gleams, until her mind begins to disconnect from reality, until her pain feels distant.

She has built herself a mother out of those precious memories and kept herself alive on them. But she can’t subsist on crumbs anymore.

She could lose herself in this. The heat of his body against hers; the heady, ridiculous scent of his aftershave and the wild bright salt of the sea; the way he holds her as though she’s something precious.

Right now, she strikes him as entirely otherworldly. A siren — or one of the aos si liable to drag him to a watery grave. Fey magic as ancient and wild as the hala, wearing a girl’s skin.

She is so beautiful.

She feels as though she’s been threaded through with an electrical wire, jittery and wild with dread.

I love him. It doesn’t surprise her to finally admit it to herself. It feels nothing like a revelation, nothing like falling — only like the punchline of some cruel, predictable joke. She has only given the universe more ammunition to wound her.

There is something dark within him that enjoys this heady rush of power. It’s intoxicating to at last hold all the cards — to cradle a life in his hands. The divinity of God lives within each of them, but only an alchemist can harness that spark. Jaime’s is just a pale insignificant glimmer against his.

She’s lived her whole life braced for another blow, but no amount of preparation or precaution has stopped them from landing.

This is the beast half of the hunters here today would’ve killed them for. The last demiurge: the last of the Katharists’ false gods, the last of the Sumic god’s children, the last of the Yu’adir god’s gifts.

The wind quivers, as tremulous as a long-held breath. And there is less magic in the world.

ARC Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was absolutely delightful! I was a little concerned at first because it’s a VERY slow start, but once Wren accepted Lowry’s invitation I was hooked.

I’m going to add a disclaimer before this next comment: I adore fanfiction. I love it. I read it, I write it, it’s fantastic.

This book reads like my very favorite kind of slooooow-burn enemies-t0-lovers postwar fanfiction. The kind where two members of opposing sides are forced into close proximity and slowly, slowly learn that the other is not a heartless monster, and inevitably falls for them. I can’t get enough of that dynamic in fanfiction and it was a delightful surprise to find it in this book.

I felt for Wren. She’s sympathetic and determined and has so much heart. And I felt for Hal, who was forced to kill and kill and kill again when he was no more than a child, who regrets all the killing and wants nothing more than to make amends and shift his country away from war. They’re a perfect match.

The villain is nearly at cartoon-villain status, but the way he morphed his demeanor to show concern, caring, humor, and darkness all within seconds was chilling. As was the atmosphere in the manor Hal and Wren were trapped in.

Wren’s love for Una was beautiful and heartbreaking, as first loves so often are. Wren and Hal’s attraction came on slowly and lingered, gradually strengthening in a way that made it all the more believable. I loved their interactions, their dynamic, the way they were drawn together.

The ending was perfection, wrapping it up and tying a neat bow around the whole delicious package. I hope there’s a sequel because I definitely want more.

*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an e-arc for review.