After reading Allison Saft’s A Far Wilder Magic, I’ve developed a newfound hunger for stories steeped in magic and romance. From the world-building to the prose, I was swept away into an all-consuming atmospheric world of alchemy, mythical hunts, and high stakes. Here are five reasons why you should pick up this fantasy romance!
1. The atmospheric setting. A village by the sea, an isolated manor on the edge of town, and a hunt through moonlit forests. When I think of atmospheric fantasy books, The Bear and the Nightingale and The Night Circus are the first ones that come to mind. A Far Wilder Magic now joins those ranks. Atmosphere makes a story compelling, and this 1920s-inspired fantasy world brimming with alchemy and magic swept me away within the first few chapters. There’s a sense of foreboding, of mystery steeped into the story. There’s just something about how the setting feels–and how easy it is to get lost in.
2. The romance. Fantasy romance is a sub-genre I haven’t delved into much, but if there are more books like this then I need them! The slow-burn, the pining, the mutual YEARNING. It was just so good. I didn’t even expect the romance to be so prominent so I was pleasantly surprised. The love story between Maggie and Wes was achingly tender and heartwarming. One of my favorite quotes from the book:
Love is not the sharp-edged thing she’s always believed it to be. It’s not like the sea, liable to slip through her fingers if she holds on too tight. It’s not a currency, something to be earned or denied or bartered for. Love can be steadfast. It can be certain and safe, or as wild as an open flame. It’s a slice of buttered bread at a dinner table. It’s a grudge born of worry. It’s broken skin pulled over swelling knuckles.
3. Grumpy x sunshine. The tried and true, evergreen trope/relationship dynamic. But instead of the heroine being the one with the sunny personality, it’s the hero in this book! Maggie is serious one while Wes is the incorrigible flirt with slight himbo energy (I love the dark, morally ambiguous anti-heroes but we seriously need more himbos in books). She’s a sharpshooter and he’s an aspiring alchemist–the unlikely pairing team up to compete in a hunt for the last mythical beast.
4. The character-driven story. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed fantasy, I have others recs for you, but what you’ll find in this book are introspective character studies, internal conflicts, individual struggles, and emotional journeys. The legendary foxhunt is just the bonus! The plot is used to develop Maggie and Wes into fully-fleshed out characters.
5. Full Metal Alchemist and Wuthering Heights vibes. A strange pairing perhaps, but it worked wonderfully. FMA was one of the first anime I watched and still one of my favorites. I loved seeing the alchemy parallels between A Far Wilder Magic and the classic anime. Alchemy in general is something I’d love to see explored more in fantasy books! And let’s not forget the haunting, gothic vibes of the story–a bit Brontë-esque.
A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft
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.