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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

A Far Wilder Magic


Rating - ⭐⭐


"When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.


Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist--yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he's landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.


Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it's like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt - if they survive that long."


 

A Far Wilder Magic is a standalone YA fantasy novel by Allison Saft.


 

First and foremost I would like to thank NetGalley and Wednesday Books for giving me the opportunity to review this book in advance. Please note that this in no way affects my opinions. Also note that what I read was an ARC, and things may be subject to change for the final copy.

 

I am someone who likes to space out my reading, reading about 100 pages per night, but I found myself trying to finish this as fast as I could, and not for a good reason.


This is Allison Saft's second novel, and also the second book I have read by her. While I thought that her debut novel, Down Comes the Night, was partially a good story, nothing about this worked for me.


The story felt unoriginal, the pacing was off, and the characters, relationships, plot and world-building were all lacking development and clarity. This story just did not deliver what the synopsis said it would.


I was considering giving this an extra half star but, thinking back on what I just read, there was nothing I liked about this story and couldn't justify giving it a higher rating.


Now, let's get into the details.


 

WRITING


The writing was fine enough to keep me going. I did have some issues as there were some lines of dialogue in this that made me cringe because of how cheesy they were.


The only other complaint I really have, although minor, would be the language used in this. Because the use of alchemy is so prominent in this story, there are terms used in this that don't particularly roll of the tongue and make me pause my reading to figure out how to pronounce it.



PLOT


I had numerous issues about the plot of this book, so I am just going to dive right in, starting with the overall plot and why it didn't work for me.


This story logically doesn't make much sense, to me at least. Following the sighting of a mythical creature, a grand hunt is orchestrated in order to capture and kill it for reward. My question though is why? Why do the people of this town let a creature wreak havoc while they take the time to set up this hunt? Not getting why the main plot point occurred is a huge hindrance as a reader.


The story also felt very forced to me. At the core of the story, there are a lot of discussions around xenophobia and anti-immigration. While they are very real topics of discussion, it didn't really work in this book. It was like the author wanted the story to seem deep and was like, 'aha, how about this?', and just slapped it in there with very little finesse. It could have made sense and allowed for interesting discussions and storylines, but it just didn't end up benefiting the story in any way.


While this story heavily focused on xenophobia and alchemy, there is also a lot of romance and drama in this, more than anything else really, which isn't something I particularly wanted. I didn't need a romance in the first place really, but there would be moments that were so cheesy that I would die a bit on the inside because they were cringey and didn't fit the overall tone of the book.


Moving on, the pacing of the story was off. For one, this does not feel like a standalone novel, it felt like the first book in a series that only serves to set up the rest of the series. Even then though, it is still lacking the development that a set-up book would have. Secondly, it took an excruciatingly long time to go somewhere. There was just too much build-up and unnecessary plot, and when it finally got to where it needed to be, it ended way quicker than it should have.


By the time I got to the end of the book, things started to unravel more. Events were added just for dramatic flair, and I simply thought that there would be more to the story than what I got. So, overall, this story went in all the wrong directions.



WORLD-BUILDING


The world-building in this met the bare minimum and went no further than that. While alchemy is explored a lot, there were a lot of minor details that I thought would be imperative to the world and the story that were just cast aside and never explained. Even with the depth this going into with the alchemical aspects, this book somehow made it boring.


There were a bunch of different cultures and faiths in this world but, again, they weren't fleshed out as much as they could have been. There is also set in a very vague time period as there were mentions of industrialization. Personally, I think this story would have made more sense if it took place in an earlier time period.



CHARACTERS


We follow Margaret and Wes, neither of whom were very interesting to read about. Wes described Maggie as mysterious but, rather, she just had no personality. She was very wooden, for a lack of a better word. Wes was an okay character, but his suaveness and playboy attitude felt a bit forced.


This is also a romance, so we get to see Maggie and Wes' relationship develop. The issue here is that they had zero chemistry between them, none. There was also a love triangle which isn't my favourite trope in the first place, but it was just unnecessary in this as it created drama that wasn't needed.


As for the side characters, they were only there to add drama and didn't add anything meaningful to the story. To be honest, the best character in this was Trouble the dog.



CONCLUDING THOUGHTS


This just fell very flat for me in all aspects of storytelling. The plot, the world and the characters needed more development.


If you want a story about alchemy, I would recommend Fullmetal Alchemist instead. Both the manga and the anime (Brotherhood not the original) are fantastic stories that have characters you are going to love and hate.


As a final note, I would issue a trigger warning for animal death if that is something that bothers you.

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