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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Thrilling, atmospheric, and filled with ancient magic, this lyrically written YA debut is perfect for readers of The Raven Cycle and Wink Poppy Midnight. Once a year, Wren is chased through the woods near her rural Ireland hometown in a warped version of a childhood game. Her pursuers belong to the judges, a group in control of an ancient, powerful magic they stole from her own people, the augu…

The Wren Hunt

by Mary Watson

Overall Book Review:

The Wren Hunt is an intriguing tale set in Ireland during an undisclosed period that could be the past or the future.  Full of action, mystery, romance and courage, this book will take you on an emotional roller coaster that makes it hard to put down.

Wren is unfortunate.  She has an unfortunate name.  At least if you live where she does on the day after Christmas.  An old Irish poem talks about hunting and catching a wren and while most of the country honors the tradition through parades, the young men in Wren’s town honor it by chasing her.  But she has a secret.  She is part of a magical race with the ability to see the future, the present, emotions, and health, and she has all sorts of other abilities surrounding patterns and the nature of things.

When her grandfather sets her off a mission to help her flailing race, she infiltrates the headquarters of their nemesis, the judges.  But she never expects to learn more about herself here then she did among family.  And it leaves her having to make some tough choices and finding an inner strength she didn’t know she had.

This book is a great toe-dip into the fantasy genre.  The mystical/magical elements are easy to understand, so for those that get lost in novels with complex hierarchies that require maps to follow, this is a good choice.  The delicate interwoven nature of Irish custom and lore throughout the books lends a sense of credibility throughout and makes it easy to relate to the characters.  And there are some plot twists for those who like to be kept on their toes.  Just when I thought I had everything figured out, the author took a sharp left turn and all my notions of how the book was going to end were set on edge.

While there is quite a bit of action throughout the books, the story delves more into the emotional and relational aspects of Wren with her family, with the judges, and with the boy she falls for.  While more of a fantasy book then a straight romance, the romantic overtones are there, and the ending left the door wide open for a sequel.  But for those looking for a strong female lead who doesn’t let the men around her define her, this is a great read.  While a mid-range in the page count, you’ll find yourself quickly immersed and before you know it will be turning the last page.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  6 religious exclamations; 12 mild obscenities; 3 derogatory names; 7 scatological words; 4 anatomical terms; 6 f-word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  Girl is knocked down/tackled to ground three times resulting in cuts and scrapes; Boy cuts off girl’s hair; stab to hand with letter opener; visions of woman being eaten twice; reference to human sacrifice; vision of venomous snake attack; girl is hit in chest; report of men being attacked; girl is placed in choke-hold; man kills a bird with a bat; story of a severed hand being left as a warning; 3 page fist fight during kidnap attempt with non-life threatening injuries; awakes with bruised jaw; character shoved and held against wall; report of fire destroying building; character cuts another face with weapon; character is thrown against wall (stunned); 2 page fist fight with bloody cuts; floor at party collapses trapping and injuring teens; hand is cut for blood ritual; rock is smashed into face/head; threat with gun resulting in gunshot wound to leg.

Sex/Nudity:  Hands on shoulders and hips four times; kiss on cheek; reference to sex; two instances of handholding; two hugs; four kisses. 

Mature Subject Matter:

Racial conflict, ethics, abandonment; infidelity; kidnapping; mental illness; stealing; drug addiction.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Underage smoking and drinking.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.