A review by gabberjaws
The Wolf and the Woodsman, by Ava Reid

Did not finish book. Stopped at 63%.
It was super duper ballsy of the marketing team to compare this book to The Bear and The Nightingale and Spinning Silver. Incredibly brave! Awe-inspiringly gutsy! Do I commend them for their tenacity? Yes? Do I hate them because they fucking led me on? Also, yes.

I kind of understand why they did it. I do. This book is trying so hard to be like both those other books, that it’s kind of embarrassing. It tries to match TBaTN’s sweeping, lyrical prose. It tries to match Spinning Silver’s competent, engaging self-contained storytelling. But it falls short on both accounts – so the writing is purple prose-y in a way that’s not very pleasant (it reminded me of Roshani Chokshi’s writing circa Star-Touched Queen) and the structure of the story was extremely choppy and clumsy.

The first two chapters weren’t too bad, but it becomes very clear very fast that this book really only cared about two things: 1) The romance and b) All the lore that the author wrote up for this story and loved so much that she simply had to shoehorn. all of it. in.

Like, listen. We all write too much lore and backstory for our characters and their worlds. Some of us just have the good sense to know that not everything needs to make it into the finished product. You can’t just have your main characters stop what they’re doing to tell a random-ass story every other paragraph. You can’t. Stop it.

I think I wouldn’t have been so harsh with this book if it had been YA – because I’m doing a thing, you see, where I acknowledge that I’m not the target audience and some things that work for YA audiences might not work for me, an adult woman. This book felt like it was written as a YA book – a babied down watery YA book, sure, but a YA book all the same – but was switched to an adult book at the last minute because the author wanted to shove some seggs in there.

I could go on about how much I disliked this book and how much of a chore it was to read. But much like I couldn’t bring myself to pick it up anymore, I can’t bring myself to talk about it anymore. I just can’t stop being mad about this thing being compared to The Bear and The Nightingale and Spinning Silver. It is, quite frankly, insulting. 

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