Sunday 1 April 2018

THE WREN HUNT by Mary Watson

The Wren Hunt
Every winter, Wren Silke is chased through the forest in a warped version of a childhood game. The boys who haunt her are judges, powerful and frightening pursuers, who know nothing of her true identity. If they knew she was an augur, their sworn enemy, the game would turn deadly. 

 But Wren is on the hunt, too. Sent undercover as an intern to the Harkness Foundation – enemy headquarters – her family's survival rests on finding a secret meant to stay hidden. As the enmity between two ancient magics reaches breaking point, Wren is torn between old loyalties and new lies. And trapped in the most dangerous game of her life. 

This is a YA book I knew nothing about until I received a copy from Bloomsbury Australia. The cover's beautiful and the blurb intrigued me, so I decided to give it a go.

Wren Silke lives in the village of Kilshamble with her grandfather. They might live in the modern world, but her life is shadowed by the ancient ways she inherited. She's an augar, but must keep it a secret from everyone because their magic is fading, and their sworn enemies, the judges, are everywhere.

When she starts an internship at the Harkness Foundation in order to find a map that will help the augars, she finds herself surrounded by the enemy. But there's also a strange pull to the house, and an intriguing guy she can't resist. Plus the secrets contained in the archives make her realise even those closest to her might be hiding things...

Well, I didn't expect to be so drawn into this story. Even though the reader is thrown into the middle of an already-established world, with an ancient history in magic, it didn't take long to get my bearings. 

And most of that was because of Wren's compelling voice and narrative. I loved the writing style, the way Wren tells her story and how her life unfolds and changes as she learns some unexpected truths. All while being haunted by the memory of the mother who left her.

There's a lot to like about this book, but one of my favourite things is how well folklore is woven into a contemporary setting. Wren is a teenager living in today's society, but finds herself constantly in the middle of some very interesting magical traditions, and everything fits seamlessly.

Even Calista Harkness, her boss and face of the judges, runs an arts and heritage charity but everything about her life is steeped in the ancient mythology of their ancestors. Yet, she successfully adapts to the modern world and manages to keep the truth contained.

I also really liked Tarc. He seems like such a problematic character, but at the end of the day he's just like Wren--two kids trying to find their own way while caught in the web of family traditions that made them enemies before they were born.

The Wren Hunt turned out to be a wonderful surprise. An unexpected well-written, atmospheric gem with twists and turns. It also features some of my most favourite things in storytelling: the woods, family secrets, an intriguing mystery, a complicated romance, folklore, and an air of magic.

I really enjoyed this one. It's a keeper!

Thank you, Sonia from Bloomsbury Australia. I might have missed this awesome book if you hadn't sent me a copy

The Wren Hunt, March 2018, ISBN 9781408884935, Bloomsbury Children's

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