“Where I will wander, I am certain I will decide.”
Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.
In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EXPECTED NOVEMBER 6, 2018
This read was a ROLLERCOASTER for me, now that I’ve had a couple days to sit and think about it. Ultimately, I felt like it was super worth my time, but I also can’t let go of some things that bothered me as well, which is such a weird position to be in. Normally, I have one thing that bothered me and lots I loved, or the other way around, but this was such a mix. I guess the best way to tackle it is going to be by going through it all one point at a time!
For starters, I LOVED the atmosphere, especially when Wren was involved with the magic of the Augurs. It’s all rooted in Irish magic, which ties it heavily to natural magics, and there was something incredibly fascinating about it. Individual talents aren’t predictable, and they can be used creatively, rather than along a rigid set of rules. The magic, in a way, has a life of its own. Plus, the magic of the Augurs is largely based in patterns, which is super interesting and not something I would have thought of myself. I really, really liked that.
I also liked the plot, once it got rolling. Books that feature heists or spying are some of my favorite things, especially when they don’t fall into the class of “spy thriller” in any sort of way, so I enjoyed the way Wren interacted with the heist plot through the bulk of the book. It’s fun reading about characters stealing things, and it’s double fun when there are big consequences, which there are here. SUCH big consequences.
But on the flip side, the beginning AND the end of the book were really rough. The beginning felt weirdly detached to the rest of the book (I’m still not clear why it’s Wren that HAS to go out on St Stephen’s Day, why she can’t just stay inside for the day), and the ending left a bad taste in my mouth. It feels like there should be a sequel, but I believe the author has said there will only be companion novels, ones not told from Wren’s POV, and that just doesn’t feel satisfying. Not to mention the ending not only just dropped off and ended way too quickly, but (AND SPOILERS AHEAD) the choices Wren made imply she abandoned the entire seventeenish years of her life to get cozy with the people who’ve oppressed her people. She swore off all of her own people for the actions of just a few, and I’m…not loving that.
My other frustration is that for a good chunk of the novel, Wren feels like a passive figure. I get that she’s hardly a trained spy and all that, but she spends a lot of time listening without doing, and didn’t feel like a very proactive character until the end. And characters really should be proactive where possible, because reactionary characters can be pretty boring to read about.
Ultimately, I’m sticking to my 3.5 star rating because on one hand the parts I liked, I really, really liked, and that totally counts for something! My ratings are in part based on how much I enjoyed the book, even with the flaws taken into consideration. But on the flipside, there was enough in The Wren Hunt that also put me off, so I can’t really justify a higher rating than this. Such a weird position to be in, to say that I liked it but also didn’t love it. I’m usually a lot more black and white about reviews than this.
Anyway, if you think you’d be interested in reading about Irish magic and grouchy girls and dangerous boys and plants and patterns and birds, The Wren Hunt might just be for you, and you can preorder it before it comes out on November 6 this year! And if you’ve already read it or preordered it, what do you think? Are you excited? Not so excited? Let’s chat!