Title: The Wren Hunt
Author: Mary Watson
Release Date: 6th November 2018
Rating: 3.5 Stars
“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.”
➺ Wren: Wren is our main character. She has a particularly unusual magical ability called ‘spinny eye’ where she can see visions of the future based on randomly occurring patterns. As seeing the future is incredibly rare amongst her people – augurs – this gift can be incredibly dangerous and if used to much can cause madness and death, but it’s incredibly hard to control as these patterns occur everywhere. She’s quite an interesting character as she’s thrown in the middle of a generation’s old feud with the intention of bringing her enemies down. However, she has sympathy for the judges – her supposed enemies – and is not fuelled by hatred like her older relatives.
➺ Tarc: Tarc is the main love interest. He is a judge, and therefore an enemy of Wren’s. He, however, does not know that Wren is an augur. Honestly, he was a bit bland and I didn’t really feel anything towards him good or bad. His whole personality was ‘the bad boy on the opposing side’ and I felt like the only point of him as a character was to be the love interest and to serve as some internal conflict for Wren. I need some spice in a LI and it was just missing from Tarc (plus, who calls their bad boy TARQUIN?)
➺ I really enjoyed the atmosphere. The story is set in the fictional Irish village of Kilshamble, which has a really eerie authentically irish feel to it. I really enjoyed the way Mary wrote this remote countryside setting, it felt very dark and steeped in magic.
➺ I absolutely loved the use of Irish folklore as the basis for this story – the judges and augurs, tree folk and flower girls, magic drawn from the earth. It was so interesting and felt beautiful, yet dangerous and ancient.
➺ I enjoyed the family dynamics throughout the book. Wren was abandoned at a young age by both parents and therefore has the influence of lots of relatives and friends she was left with – her grandfather, her aunt, her cousins, the other members of her groups of augurs. They push her into enacting this dangerous plan for the good of their people, and they basically use her as a pawn. It’s a really interesting take on family dynamics and made this system of magical groups of people a really high point of the book.
➺ I just wasn’t convinced by the romance, honestly. It seemed very much like a romance of convenience – like, ‘here is sexy bad boy that you aren’t supposed to fall for’. He’s mildly nice so suddenly Wren is head over heels. They didn’t really spend time getting to know each other. Honestly I think this just has more to do with me feeling like Tarc had no personality. It’s hard for me to believe someone falling in love very quickly with a bland character.
➺ My main gripe, was simply that the story was a bit confusing and unclear. There were aspects of the plot and folklore that didn’t feel totally explained and clear – the problem when the author knows what’s going on and they know the magic system so they don’t explain it as plainly for readers new to the world. I really feel like this should have been caught in editing, which is a shame.
➺ I don’t want to be spoilery, so I won’t expand too much here, but I felt like the ending completely fizzled out. All the we were building towards for the last half of the book just didn’t really come to anything and felt a bit unresolved. Again, I feel like this might work for people who like a more abstract story but it just didn’t do it for me.
➺ There were so many avenues that were left unresolved and unexplained so towards the end I was hopeful that I’d be able to carry on into the sequel and get that further development that I was craving, but on closer inspection it seems that the sequel doesn’t follow the same characters and is relatively unrelated to this book.
I think this book would work for you if you’re a fan of a more abstract novel. I personally am so character driven in the books I love so it just didn’t work for me with quite bland and uninteresting characters that we didn’t really get to know in any sort of depth. I can totally see how someone who likes something more atmospheric would really enjoy this though.
I know I’ve tended towards pointing out negatives here, but there were a lot of things I did enjoy about this one and I’m hoping that I enjoy the sequel even more! I feel like this is just going to a bit of a divider because it has a really specific style that will work well for some and not for others, but if you think you like the sound of the atmosphere and folklore then I’d definitely say give it a go!