Thursday 24 February 2022

A FAR WILDER MAGIC by Allison Saft

In the dark, gothic town of Wickdon, Maggie Welty lives in an old creaking manor. Maggie's mother is an alchemist who has recently left town, leaving Maggie with just her bloodhound for company. But when Maggie spots a legendary ancient fox-creature on her porch, her fate is changed forever. Whoever tracks down and kills the hala in the Halfmoon Hunt will earn fame and riches - and if Maggie wins the hunt, she knows her mother will want to celebrate her. This is her chance to bring her home.

But the rules state that only teams of two can join the hunt, and while Maggie is known as the best sharpshooter in town, she needs an alchemist.

Enter Wes Winters. He isn't an alchemist ... yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he's landed, this is his last chance.

Maggie and Wes make an unlikely team - a charismatic but troubled boy, and a girl who has endured life on the outskirts of a town that never welcomed her. But as the hunt takes over, the pair are drawn together as they uncover a darker magic that may put everything they hold dear in peril...

This book caught my eye when I was looking through the Hachette catalogue a few months ago. I thought the cover was lovely and when I read the description, I was definitely interested.

Maggie Welty lives in an old manor in the town of Wickdon. Her mother is an alchemist who often leaves her alone in a place where she's only liked by a handful of people. Weston Winters lives in the city with his mother and sisters. He desperately wants to become an alchemist. That's how he ends up on Maggie's doorstep, and begins a magical adventure with this strange girl...

Wow. What an amazing and super addictive tale. I couldn't stop reading because I wanted to know how this was going to turn out. And it didn't disappoint.

When I started reading this book I just wanted a sample, a small taste of what lay hidden between the pages of this pretty book. But before I realised what was happening, I was halfway through and didn't want to stop because I was instantly captivated by the interesting characters, the fascinating alchemical world, and the mysterious white fox. I also wanted to know where Maggie's mother was, and why she would be so careless about her responsibilities to a daughter who wants and deserves her attention.

I loved how the vivid descriptions of the town of Wickdon spring off the page as easily as the colourful characters we meet. And that brings me to Maggie and Wes. 

The story is told in the alternating POV of Maggie and Wes. I was instantly drawn to both of these characters for very different reasons. Maggie is a lonely, self-sufficient girl who is also stubborn, determined, and comfortable in her isolated existence. Wes is an outwardly cocky, somewhat arrogant guy who seems to get what he wants all the time. Yet, his charm only gets him so far, and he hides who he really is behind this well-constructed mask. Together, they're two opposites who will obviously attract, no matter how hard they try to fight it. 

Another thing that I thought was very well written and flawlessly woven into the narrative was the different religions, how they work and don't work together. It wasn't hard to figure out how each was influenced by the real world, but they're re-created in a different light and mixed with alchemy to feature some very interesting worldbuilding. Yet, are still troublesome and encounter the same prejudice.

A Far Wilder Magic is an exciting fantasy tale with a slow burn passionate love story at its wonderful core. It also deals with plenty of dark issues such as bigotry, parental neglect, malicious bullying, manipulation, and the mental scars grief leaves behind. And when everything is mixed together, it makes an unforgettable story that I absolutely fell in love with.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

A Far Wilder Magic, March 2022, ISBN 9781510110755, Orion Children's Books

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