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Évike lives in a small pagan village surrounded by walking trees. Like all of the villagers, she lives in constant fear of the Woodsmen of King János Bárány. Every two or three years, the Woodsmen have come and taken one of the wolf-girls of the village so that her gift of pagan magic might be put to use by the king. The women never return. When Évike was a young girl, her own mother was taken, leaving her to be raised by the village seer, Vírag. Now 25, Évike remains the relative outcast of the village, as she never developed any of the four magic talents possessed by the women of her home. She can’t spark a fire with a word, she can’t forge a blade with a song, she can’t heal the injured, and she has no gift of foresight. Blame falls on her father, an outsider who left the village again before her mother was taken.

When Vírag receives a vision that the Woodsmen will soon return to the village, a drastic decision must be made. She knows that the king has sent them to retrieve Katalin, one of Évike’s peers, and a burgeoning seer herself. Fearing the fate of their village left with only one, elderly seer, Vírag calls Évike to her hut. Quickly disguising Évike and Katalin as one another, Vírag tricks the Woodsmen into taking the one wolf-girl without a hint of magic. Évike is understandably bitter, as Katalin was one of those who bullied her the most in their youth. Now she must pretend to be her as she’s taken away to the capital.

The wild forest around Évike’s village isn’t the only threat along the path to the capital, however, and monsters are very real. Soon all but the captain of the Woodsmen group sent for her are killed. Her deception is revealed, but instead of killing her for the lie, the Woodsman reveals one of his own. He isn’t a mere Woodsman. He is Gáspár Bárány, firstborn son of the king.

Évike and Gáspár forge an uneasy truce. If she helps him find the turul, a powerful source of magic that could save the king from the manipulations of his second son, he will help her search the capital for her own father and protect her people. Time is short, and the journey will be perilous, but it may be that their growing tolerance for each other hides something more…

Ava Reid has provided us with a masterful debut novel, a blend of Eastern European and Jewish history and folktale that is sure to delight older fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse. Magic, monsters, and romance fill the pages, and the characters resonate with real-world people and events fantastically.

The Wolf and the Woodsman is available today.

My utmost thanks to NetGalley and Avon & Harper Voyager for an eARC in exchange for a fair review.

The Swords of The Ancients is two years old today! Two years ago, I started this blog to help facilitate the crafting of my first novel. Since then, I’ve written upwards of 30,000 words toward that goal and developed my main characters considerably. I’m nowhere near where I would like to be in terms of progress on this particular project, but I’ve found that through various connections I’ve made since beginning this blog, I’ve found a great deal of inspiration. I thank you all, my wonderful readers. While I’d probably still continue this just for my own sake, it’s nice to know that you’re here.

It’s time for some intense reading. We started the Winter Reading Program at my library a few days ago, and so the challenge is to make it through eight books over the course of eight weeks. I’ve already knocked out a book on the making of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I’m reading a bunch of the collected editions of DC’s New 52, but I’m trying to avoid counting those toward my eight, just for the sake of getting caught up on my backlog of books. I am almost two hundred pages through The Casual Vacancy right now, and I’m really enjoying it. A full review will follow as soon as I finish. I’m going to try to get through some classic fantasy pieces now as well, such as The King of Elfland’s Daughter and The Worm Ouroboros, both of which have been recommended by V. I’ve also added The Well at the World’s End to my to-read list, since it served as an inspiration to Tolkien. There’s a few books I’ve been suggesting to patrons at work at the library recently, and so I’m considering tossing some rereading in as well, with Dune at the top of that list. So many books… Goodreads has been very beneficial in keeping track of them. If you’re a reader and you don’t have a goodreads account, I would highly recommend setting one up. It’s free, and it’s a great way to track what you’re reading, what you have read, and what you want to read, plus being able to rate and review books you’ve read.

I’m going to let you go for now, dear readers. I owe you some new stories, after all. I’ve been issued a challenge by Chuck Wendig. 1000 word flash fiction based on photos of some absolutely incredible and surreal real world locations. Feel free to take part. Entries are due by the 25th.

Excelsior!
(Note to self: Create a catchphrase that’s better than Stan “The Man” Lee’s)