After absolutely loving Allison Saft’s debut Down Comes The Night last year, I was so incredibly blessed and thankful to recieve an e-ARC of her sophomore book! And spoiler alert: I loved this one even more. So let’s talk about it*! TW/CW: PTSD, emotional abuse, animal death and injury, antisemitism.
*by “talk” i really mean “gush”. i love this book aghhhh
A huge thank you to the publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! Quotes may change upon publication.
Margaret Welty is the daughter of a famous alchemist, and when she spots a hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. In order to prove her worth to her mother who is hardly ever home, she enlists the help of Weston Winters, a charming boy who has failed out of every alchemy apprenticeship he’s ever had. Together, they prepare for the hunt while facing hardships and magic aplenty.
A Far Wilder Magic is a story that is unique and wholly magical. On that note, Allison Saft’s brilliant character work and atmospheric prose reminds me of all the best parts of The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Steifvater. Both authors create complex characters and develop them in the most beautiful, brilliant ways. Also, this cover is absolutely jaw-dropping.
Margaret (or Maggie) Welty is a practical, clever, and all-around incredible girl. She would do anything to earn her mother’s love, and so when she first meets Weston, she hates him. I loved getting to see her slowly become vulnerable, and begin to heal from the emotional abuse wrought upon her by her mother. Also, can we just appreciate that Maggie is a great shot with a gun? AND SHE HAS AN ADORABLE DOG NAMED TROUBLE. AND A HORSE NAMED SHIMMER. I want to be friends with her so badly.
Weston Winters* has his sights set on becoming a great alchemist and changing the world…once he doesn’t fail out of an apprenticeship. He’s the only boy in a chaotic family of girls, and he’s effortlessly charming. His sunshiney contrast to Maggie’s grumpiness was everything to me. Gosh, I love him.
*i aspire to name my characters so perfectly. like, weston winters??? i freaking LOVE that name.
Okay, but can we talk about the setting for a moment? The majority of this story takes place in a 1920s sort of time period, complete with a seaside village and lush forest. When the whole “magical foxhunt” thing starts, you’re already deeply entrenched in the atmosphere of this book. And oh my gosh! If Down Comes The Night feels like winter, A Far Wilder Magic somehow manages to capture the very soul of autumn. This world is so rich and real in my mind. How can a person be so talented someone please explain.
“The water is rough tonight, frothing itself into a mist so thick she can scarcely see the moon beyond a veil of silver.”
and now: the best part.
The romance is so slowburn and beautiful and perfect. In a world tinged by magic, Weston and Maggie’s connection feels so intricately human. So infinitely real. The amount of pining, longing, and sheer want is so entrancing. But you also know to let their relationship run its course because as wonderful as the love story is, the character development that comes of it is chef’s kiss. As far as plot goes, there’s very little action and high-stakes excitement. Where the real heart of the story lies is in the characters and their relationships. And that’s why I say it reminds me of The Raven Cycle.
“All her life, love had been a scarce and precious resource, something earned or denied, something she starved for every day. But with Wes, love is different. It is reckless and inexhaustible. It is freely given. It simply is.”
And oh, it isn’t just the romantic relationships! I love the Winters family, and their loving chaos. There’s so many well-developed characters in this book SEND HELP. I can’t just keep screaming about the same stuff this entire review but Allison Saft does character work so well! I also loved how Weston was dyslexic, and how there was a running theme of religion and how people harbor such prejudice over those who are different. I appreciated how you can take the basic theme of the atrocities of nationalism and warped biases, and apply it to Jews and African-Americans and countless other minority groups who have suffered because of how much irrational hate some people have. In fact, Margaret specifically is Jewish, and she faces so much prejudice. I’m not Jewish myself but I’ve heard from other reviewers who are that the representation is fantastic!
To be perfectly honest, this book did everything right. The writing, the characters, the romance…I loved every wondrous second of it. Obviously, this is 5/5 stars for me. Please please please go experience this book for yourself when it comes out, because I promise that if you love gorgeously crafted stories, you’ll love this. You can preorder this here, add it to Goodreads, or add it to StoryGraph.