Today I talked to Ava Reid about her new book The Wolf and the Woodsman (Harper Voyager, 2021)
The wolf, in the title refers to a pagan woman, given to the dreaded Woodsmen to keep her village safe. She’s part of a tithe, sent to satisfy the King, who demands a quota of witches every year.
The impoverished villages hidden in the woods are inhabited by women with magical powers, who worship the old Gods. The Woodsmen, a religious paramilitary order who serve the king, bring selected women to the capital, where their eventual fates are a mystery. Évike, the metaphorical wolf of the story, is an illiterate angry young woman, who has been taunted by the villagers. She’s also not a witch. She’s clad in a witch’s wolf pelt and sent with the Woodsmen so that the true witches can remain safe to guard the village. When misfortune besets the Woodsmen, and only the one-eyed Gáspár remains to guard her, she learns that neither she or he are who they appear to be. The trials of their journey reveal latent magic in her and lay bare his misery as the less-favored son of the king. Though Gáspár’s piety and rigidity infuriate Évike, she finds herself drawn to him physically and emotionally.
As Évike journeys to the north, and then to her country’s capital, meeting her estranged father and the king himself, she learns that the world is a complex place, with more at stake than she ever realized.
Gabrielle Mathieu is the author of the YA fantasy, Girl of Fire, the first in the Berona’s Quest series, and the historical fantasy Falcon series. You can follow her on Twitter to get updates about new podcasts and more @GabrielleAuthor, or visit her website at gabriellemathieu.com.