A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft is a heartwarming, and wrenching, fantasy romance. Margaret Welty doesn’t care for anyone, but Weston Winters may change her mind yet.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
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.
“He’s survived this long by letting everyone believe he’s selfish and shallow. It’s better that way. No one knows how to hurt you if you always play the fool. No one can truly be disappointed in you if they don’t expect any better.”
Ah yes, fantasy romance, the genre I tend to be most wary of. Most of my readers (or viewers, from youtube), know that romance is not my genre. I am consistently clear on that matter. This book was no exception to my initial wariness. I picked it up for the cover because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Genuinely, that was what drew me to request this one. And you know what? I don’t regret it a bit.
“They’re always cutting pieces of themselves off for God’s amusement.”
The chemistry between Wes and Margaret and the slow burn from hatred to love was so fantastically written. I found myself genuinely smiling as I listened to the audiobook on my drive home. There was something charming about their teasing and dislike of one another, which inevitably grew. Beyond that, though, their very different familial relationships were refreshing. Often, we see characters who come from similar familial backgrounds. Either supportive and loving, or traumatizing and neglectful. Rarely do we get characters that each come from different backgrounds like these two do.
“Is the stone truly what you want?” Margaret asks. “It won’t make any of this right. It won’t bring him back, and even if it does, will it even matter after everything you’ve thrown away? Or did you always love the memory of him more than you loved the reality of me?”
Weston’s relationships with his sisters made me smile, as the baby sister of two older brothers. The dynamic was really well written and charming. And Wes is very openly homesick and deeply cares for his family. In contrast, Margaret’s relationship with her mother felt like someone clinging with desperation to a final thread in a relationship.
“How could Margaret ever think he’d lose himself to alchemy when he has already hopelessly lost himself to her?”
But more than even that, the conversations around bigotry and immigration, around discrimination and the things people let slide, were uniquely presented and well done. The concepts weren’t beyond me, but instead, understandable on several different levels. It created a subplot that stayed in the back of my mind. Alternatively, the primary plot of the Hunt was fascinating in a different way. The town does not want them to win, based on their own bigotry. They each have deeply different reasons for wanting to win, and yet, this is what brings them together.
“You’re not broken. You’re incredible. You’ve come such a long way since I met you, even if you’re still afraid. Even if you have doubts. When I look at you, I don’t see someone broken. I see someone hurting—someone healing. It’ll take time, but that doesn’t matter to me.”
This book is intriguing, entertaining, and lovely. It feels like getting a warm cup of soup on a rainy day, and the magic of sitting with loved ones in the evening near a fireplace. A bit of a fluffy explanation from me, but I can’t come up with a better one.
Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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