I received this book for free from the Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid
Published by Harper Voyager on June 21, 2022
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy
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From highly acclaimed, bestselling author Ava Reid comes a gothic horror retelling of The Juniper Tree, set in another time and place within the world of The Wolf and the Woodsman, where a young witch seeks to discover her identity and escape the domination of her abusive wizard father, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson and Catherynne M. Valente.
A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.
Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.
As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.
I loved this book! Ava Reid’s debut, The Wolf and the Woodsman, was one of my favorite books in 2021 so to say that I was excited to read this book is an understatement. I couldn’t wait to dive into this story and once I did I read almost the entire book in a single day simply because I didn’t want to put it down. This is a very dark tale and I would encourage readers to check out the content warnings before picking this one up.
This story is told from the point of view of a young witch, Marlinchen, who lives with her father, a wizard living under a curse. Marlinchen and her two older sisters must deal with his cruel ways but they have found a way to escape to the city to see the ballet while he sleeps. This is where she meets Sevas, the principal dancer in the show. Even though Marlinchen isn’t as beautiful as her two older sisters, she wins the eye of the young dancer. The world that Marlinchen and Sevas live in is often cruel and decisions about their lives are frequently made by others but they hope to change that.
I grew to like Marlinchen pretty quickly and hated the way she was treated. I really wanted to see some positive changes come into her life. She worked so hard to keep her father happy and was never appreciated. The story itself was exciting. There were some pretty big surprises that came into play in the story. Because of Marlinchen’s father’s magic, anything could happen in this tale which kept things really interesting. I thought that the writing was excellent and loved the way that the vivid descriptions helped to bring the story to life.
I would recommend this book to others. This was an incredibly imaginative and well-written tale that kept me glued to the pages. I have not read The Juniper Tree so I can’t say how this book compares but it was an entertaining read on its own. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work in the future.
I received an advanced review copy of this book from Harper Voyager.