The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson (ARC review)


TITLE: The Wren Hunt

AUTHOR: Mary Watson

RELEASES: 6th November 2018 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

GENRE: Teens + YA Fantasy

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.

Beneath the oak my loves does lie.

A sword through his heart, an arrow in his eye.

Blood in his mouth, blood on my hands

So, I recently saw Mary Watson at a convention and then got tonchat to her while she signed my book! She’s lovely and so kind. (Fun fact: I messaged and had a whole converstaion with her regarding Irish word usage – love that she’s an expat like me!)

The atmosphere in The Wren Hunt was amazing! Ireland has a rich culture of storytelling and the supernatural. In this story, we get a lot of both! Wren leads a sort of double life – her home life as an augur, and her life in public in which she tries to act as normal as possible so the judges whom she lives among don’t realise what she is. The tension that goes along with her subterfuge really drew me into the story.

So, like the idiot girl in the movies, the one who ends up hacked to bits, I ran into the woods.

The opening scene is thrilling. The wren hunt is both literal and figurative in this novel. While Wren is being chased through the village, she tries to rationalise the terror of their behaviour toward her even though something a bit supernatural comes over them. It is quite terrifying to imagine what could happen if they catch her, as it becomes very dark – there’s almost an air of murder to the chapter..

The wran, the wran, the king of all birds…

The tradition of the hunt is mainly based in Celtic culture and held on St. Stephen’s Day (aka Boxing Day or 26th December), also seemingly influenced by both Norse and Christianity to become what it is today. I’ve never heard of it prior to reading this novel, but it’s still celebrated in the Isle of Man and western Ireland. I would kind of love to witness this someday..

I was about to attempt a coherent sentence when from behind me the whistling started.

One of my favourite things in the novel is the wickering, which is sort of like spelling someone with sounds. The entire novel is dark and thrilling – there’s a bit of mystery, some danger (of course), a little romance, and a lot of Celtic influence. It’s magical and I love it!

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury for providing me with a proof copy. All quotes are taken from an ARC and may not match the final release.

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