In the dark, gothic town of Wickdon, Maggie Welty lives in an old creaking manor. Maggie’s mother is an alchemist who has recently left town, leaving Maggie with just her bloodhound for company. But when Maggie spots a legendary ancient fox-creature on her porch, her fate is changed forever. Whoever tracks down and kills the hala in the Halfmoon Hunt will earn fame and riches – and if Maggie wins the hunt, she knows her mother will want to celebrate her. This is her chance to bring her home.
But the rules state that only teams of two can join the hunt, and while Maggie is known as the best sharpshooter in town, she needs an alchemist.
Enter Wes Winters. He isn’t an alchemist … yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, this is his last chance.
Maggie and Wes make an unlikely team – a charismatic but troubled boy, and a girl who has endured life on the outskirts of a town that never welcomed her. But as the hunt takes over, the pair are drawn together as they uncover a darker magic that may put everything they hold dear in peril…
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I listened to the audiobook mostly, diving in at the end of the physical version, and I really enjoyed the experience. This one captured my attention from the start with brilliant world-building, a stunning atmosphere and beautiful writing. I listened to around half of this book driving across the English and Welsh countryside on a long drive, and it was the perfect autumnal setting to settle into this story.
I really loved the romance, which was very slow burn and a lot of lusting, but was written so well that I couldn’t help but fall for these two and really root for their relationship. There was also several different family dynamics explored, and I really liked reading about Wes’ relationship with his sisters, and Maggie’s life spent largely alone.
When she looks like this, flushed and hazy and haloed by the moon,
The fantasy aspect of this book was well done and gave another layer to the story, but was incredibly complex. If I had a slight complaint about this one, it felt like the fantasy elements were over complicated in places and the space could have been used to discuss the side characters in more depth, which frequently appeared but were sometimes not fully integrated in the story in my opinion.
I did, however, really enjoy the discussions of Irish folklore and culture, and although I cannot personally speak about the Irish Catholic and Jewish rep, I have read several other reviews discussing their positive feelings towards the representation. I also really liked the alchemy aspect, but it feels like it could have been explored in more depth. The time period and setting was largely ambiguous which I didn’t particularly mind but I can understand why it might bug some people as it was difficult to pinpoint!
he truly can believe God exists, and her name is Margaret Welty.
Overall, there was so much to love about this book, which had a delicious romance, an atmospheric setting, and beautiful writing. Although I had a few small criticisms, I’d recommend it!
4 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽