My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Title: The Wickerlight (The Wren Hunt, #2)
Author: Mary Watson
Format: eBook (NetGalley)
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Categories: Dark Urban Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Druids
Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
It’s been two months since Zara’s sister Laila was found lifeless on the village green of the small Irish town Kilshamble, not a mark on her. Vicious rumors circle that she died of an overdose or committed suicide–but an autopsy finds no evidence.
Zara believes somebody must know what happened, and she throws herself headfirst into an investigation. But retracing her sister’s footsteps takes her to David, a member of an ancient magical faction called the judges. The judges are in the midst of an ancient feud with another faction called the augurs, and Zara quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous, twisted game. And if she isn’t careful on the path she’s treading, she could end up with the same fate as Laila.
Thank you to Bloomsbury YA and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.
FYI: I did not read The Wren Hunt and I should have. Luckily, The Wickerlight is so good as a standalone I didn’t get totally lost. I wasn’t sure what to expect and when I first started the book, I admit I put it down for a few weeks because I had to let it permeate in my head. I picked it up again recently and I finished it in one night. That was totally unexpected.
In The Wickerlight, we get to know this Irish town of Kilshamble, and wow, it is dark, mystery, mystical and magical but not in a happy glittery way. This story is told in dual POV. We meet Zara who’s sister Laila is dead and Zara wants to know how and why. Then there is David, who is a judge (no not the kind with a gavel), he is part of this magical world where augurs and judges are enemies, and there is a silent war between them. I missed a big chunk of David’s background by not reading The Wren Hunt, so read that first. Zara doesn’t know what she’s stumbled into when she digs for clues about Laila’s death, but soon it’s too late to turn back. Zara is learning that maybe Laila was right about magic.
- I loved learning about the druids and Irish folklore in this story. We learn about the Augurs and Judges who basically hate each other – they have a complicated history.
- This story is set in a modern world but the magic is so subtle that it fits so well, I love how it came together seamlessly. We are Zara, learning about the secrets of this town. Most of the magic is not as powerful as it was long ago but it works in the modern day world of this story. It’s nature, earth magic. Also the folklore stories about monsters in the forest – gives us a creepy background for this setting. 😳 I enjoyed the dark, eerie tone in this story!
- The mystery of Laila’s death really kept me in this story. We stumble into this strange magical world that exists in Kilshamble. I love how Zara peels a layer slowly to find out something else about Laila. Laila’s words at the beginning of each chapter adds to the mystery as well! I wanted to find out what happened to Laila for Zara and her family’s sake. Their grief is palatable and this family has crumbled, it wasn’t tight to begin with but Laila’s death has basically broken their family apart. I felt for Zara and her mother. 🥺
- Zara and Laila’s stories of the Horribles. I freaking loved it because it was their thing together and the stories made it perfectly okay to not be good and perfect all the time as long as you are not cruel, mean or hurtful. The Horribles were their shadow family and a coping mechanism I think because of their family situation.
- David and Zara. David sounds like he was a jerk in The Wren Hunt and in The Wickerlight his character is fleshed out. He’s not a saint, his life is about pain, and feeling pressure from his dad. As for Zara she feels out of place in this new town, her family life wasn’t perfect to begin with and she carries guilt from Laila’s death. Her choice in the end was unexpected! And I really like their slow burn romance.
- Obviously if you didn’t read The Wren Hunt like me…I was a little lost in the beginning and thank goodness for the glossary in the back of the book. I had to learn about the Augurs and Judges and once I did get settled in, it was smooth sailing from there.
- There is a scene where David gets tortured – so trigger warnings: cutting. It’s not a trigger for me but even I got squeamish at the visuals of the scene. But this book IS dark, the judges do not mess around when it comes to discipline. 👀 The augurs have their own form of torture, but it didn’t involve cutting, just mind bending/mind control.
- The business about hoarding words to make a law (like a spell) at times confused me, especially when it is introduced into the story. I think the idea is so poetic and the story is so lyrical that it went over my head at first. But then the practice grew on me, the way words are precious and how different words call to a person. I especially loved when David was hoarding words, haha, I mean that boy felt it!
The Wickerlight is an intriguing, lyrical, deliciously, darkly magical, unique story. It starts with grief and pulls you into the mystery of a death and this world of old magic. Definitely read The Wren Hunt first and then come lose yourself in The Wickerlight like I did.