Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 3 stars Series: standalone
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.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
A FAR WILDER MAGIC was a book I was looking forward to, as I enjoyed the author’s debut, but ultimately found rather disappointing overall.
Unlike DOWN COMES THE NIGHT, I never felt like there was anything between Margaret and Wes, not real chemistry, connection, or any real reason to like it each other. I felt like I was being told they were falling in love without getting a reason other than the plot wanted it. They lacked tension too, so the “drama” points in the relationship didn’t feel set up or believable.
Given this book is primarily a romance, the fact that it felt so lacking in that area rather undercut the book for me. It didn’t feel like there was enough plot to carry the book along without that central romance grabbing me. Instead it was two people rubbing along badly as they tried to prepare for a hunt. Or rather, he did alchemical experiments and she did… something? All while dealing with bigots from the small town.
I really enjoyed the representation in this book. Wes is an immigrant from a minority religious group, and I think he also had some ADHD and dyslexic traits too. Margaret’s father was part of a minority ethnic group, and possibly had anxiety/panic attacks (potentially related to PTSD.) It was a nice mix of intersecting issues and both have to deal with prejudice over their ethnic and/or religious backgrounds, but it was never made the focus.
I love alchemy in books. I’m a scientist and though I’ve spent most of my degree on Physics, I’ve done a lot of chemistry too, and alchemy always feels like it’s bringing some STEM ideas into fantasy. Naturally then, I loved that aspect of this book, loved the careful approach needed to make it work with accurate measurements and calculations to avoid messing up.
Read my reviews of other books by Alison Saft: