The Wolf and the Woodsman: A Novel (Paperback)
In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.
In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.
But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.
As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.
About the Author
Ava Reid was born in Manhattan and raised right across the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey, but currently lives in Palo Alto. She has a degree in political science from Barnard College, focusing on religion and ethnonationalism. She has worked for a refugee resettlement organization, for a U.S. senator, and, most recently, for an AI robotics startup. The Wolf and the Woodsman is her first novel.
"Ava Reid paints a rich and complex picture of a kingdom steeped in ancient magic, straining along seams of religious and cultural tension. From the first page to the last, every facet and detail is beautifully wrought. Rooted in history and myth, The Wolf and the Woodsman is a stunning debut—a powerful and haunting tale of a young woman's will to live, of love flowering in defiance of tyranny. It will twine like a dark forest around your heart."
— Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of The Priory of the Orange Tree
"A thought-provoking, thrilling magical twist on the history of religion and politics that I couldn't put down. In her stunningly rendered—and frankly terrifying—forbidden forests, Reid conjures up some of the ghastliest monsters I've ever read, and yet never lets us forget the worst horrors are perpetuated by human hands."
— S.A. Chakraborty, bestselling author of The Empire of Gold
"Gorgeously written and grimly real, The Wolf and the Woodsman is both a myth and a mirror, a bloody fable about two people caught in the jaws of history. It quite literally took my breath away. It has the unsettling-but-compelling gore of Henderson's The Year of the Witching, the folkloric lilt of The Bear and the Nightingale, and the moral complexity of Seeing Like a State. I’m obsessed.”
— Alix E Harrow, Hugo Award–winning author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
"The convincing enemies-to-lovers romance, fascinating religion-based magic system, and thoughtful examination of zealotry make this a notable debut."
— Publishers Weekly
“Ava Reid’s The Wolf and the Woodsman is a harrowing adventure, set in a harsh, wintry land populated by horrific beasts and hard people. The intricate, imaginative world grabs from the first page, and the landscape is rich, with much to discover. Not all of it pleasant, as our heroes are doomed to find out.”
— Kendare Blake, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Three Dark Crowns
"THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN is a book that made me remember how beautiful and gut wrenching historical fantasy can be. It’s a fundamentally Jewish tale, one that gripped me from beginning to end. A riveting debut that will keep you up all night, desperately chasing the heart-pounding conclusion.”
— Victoria Lee, author of The Fever King
"THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN, beautifully written and expertly told, is a darkly magical tale from beginning to end. I was equal parts terrified and delighted, somehow swept away and grounded in a world as beautiful as it is deadly.”
— Isabel Ibañez, author of Woven in Moonlight
"I enjoyed The Wolf and the Woodsman very much. Évike is a memorable protagonist, deeply flawed but trying, almost despite herself, to do the right thing. The writing is assured and compelling throughout, and the worldbuilding is richly imagined, densely textured, and endlessly delightful."
— Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor and The Angel of the Crows
“Combining religion, magic, and evocative language, Ava Reid has created a daring fantasy world full of imagination and fierce heroics.”
— Luanne G. Smith, bestselling author of The Vine Witch
“Évike may be the only one in her village without ‘powers,’ but that doesn’t stop her from being an in-your-face heroine who stands up for the things she believes in and never backs down. Reid has crafted a story that is not only relevant for our times, but has timelessness about it that truly makes it shine. The Wolf and the Woodsman is not a book I will soon forget.”
— Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch’s Heart
"THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN is one hell of a ride. Évike is an unlikely heroine, torn by warring duties and identities but despite it all, she discovers a power that could save a nation from itself. But only if she lives. I couldn’t put it down."
— Greta Kelly, author of The Frozen Crown
“The Wolf and the Woodsman is a dark, folkloric and viscerally beautiful book. It will haunt you, and you will be grateful.”
— Tasha Suri, author of The Jasmine Throne
"Ava Reid writes magic, myth and folklore so well that you almost forget how poignant the themes of nation-building, propaganda and religious persecution are until they smack you right in the face...Written with a timelessness of spirit, a magical world that knows no bounds, and characters who will make your heart pound and your eyes well up, THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN is an intricate, gut-wrenching fantasy that will set the bar for dark historical fantasy for years to come."