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The Wren Hunt

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Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family's enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

432 pages, Hardcover

First published February 8, 2018

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Mary Watson

14 books167 followers
Find me on Instagram @marym_watson

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 483 reviews
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,214 reviews334 followers
July 12, 2019
Re-read 7/8/19 to 7/12/19 - still loved it but finished the book with many unanswered questions. I’m glad there’s a second book that will hopefully answer them, especially why David target Wren.
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I started reading The Wren Hunt on 7/30/18 and finished it on 8/8/18. This book is fantastic! I like the Ask and its unique rituals to make a fair decision. I like following Wren’s point of view. She’s a quick thinker under stressful situations. I like the slow burning forbidden romance and their flirts makes me smile. I like the mystery and secrets. I like the centuries old stories set in Ireland, especially the meadowsweet. The talks of arts, flowers, puzzles, and gardens are interesting. I won’t be able to look at the gardener the same way again!

This book is told in the first person point of view following Wren, 17, as she tries to negotiate an end to her annual hunt on Stephen’s Day. The hunt is on TV as a fun entertainment to many people in neighboring towns, but in Kilshamble where she lives with her grandfather, it’s bloody. Every year, David, Cillian, and two other boys race after Wren as she runs ahead and tries to get away before they catch up to her. There are three groups of people: ruthless Judges, fair Augurs, and extinct Bards, where Judges and Augurs had a falling out many centuries ago. David and his friends come from a wealthy family of Judges, nephew of Judges’ leader. Wren is an Augur laying low around the Judges with an ability to see the future in random patterns. She knows the history of her people and her enemy but she doesn’t know if they are aware of who she is. The Augurs’ magic abilities are declining rapidly day by day. They have decided that Wren were to infiltrate the Judges to deceive them long enough to steal a valuable item that will help to resuscitate strengths for their people under the guise of an internship with the Judge’s leader, Calista Harkness. Wren grows up hearing Judges are awful and bloodthirsty and this mission scares her, but when time passes by while working at the Harkness House, she unravels more secrets and lies than she expected.

This book is very well written and organized. I like the unique magic and storyline. I like the different characters, and although there’s only one point of view, there are enough interactions to get what the other persons are thinking. I like the humor and mysterious Tarc and the oddities of Wren. It’s good for readers to relate to someone who doesn’t always know what to say. I like how the mystery slowly unravels and often while reading this book, I find that I couldn’t put it down. Wren runs when she’s stressed out and I like the humor when she reference herself not wanting to be like the stupid girl who runs to the woods but then she finds herself heading for the woods. This book is unique and an absolute fascinating read. I highly recommend everyone to read it!

Pro: fast paced, page turner, suspense, mystery, secrets, spy, forbidden love, centuries old stories, Irish, art, humor

Con: none

I rate it 5 stars!

***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

xoxo,
Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,576 followers
May 1, 2018
I’m never going to be able to accurately describe this book. It’s so unique and different from everything else out there. I feel like it’ll be a divisive read, but I really enjoyed my time reading it. It had the creepy magical atmosphere I absolutely love to find in books.
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
882 reviews272 followers
February 21, 2019
I really wanted The Wren Hunt to be more than it is. Mary Watson has given us a simple, yet complex enough society set-up that stems from types of magic. Except that there isn't much magic left in the world, but the social structure remains the same. The opening chapter was perhaps the type of dark, creepiness I was hoping for but unfortunately it did not remain throughout.

Pimped out
The best way I can think of to describe what happens to our main gal is that she is 'pimped out' and her family places a large chunk of responsibility on her. All the while not giving her all the details. This leads to a conflicting attitude our character (and myself as the reader) has towards a lot of characters. So if you are looking for a book with likable characters I recommend you look elsewhere. There are not too many of them in The Wren Hunt. This made it difficult to keep myself invested; as at times I didn't even like our lead gal either.

Romance
This is a classic Romeo and Juliet set-up. It is handled fairly well by Watson. At times it reminded me of the relationship between Four and Tris in Divergent. It has that same type of 'we shouldn't do this, but we are' feel. And the hierarchy of one having more power than the other exists as well. Overall I was quite pleased with how I felt about the ups and downs in the relationship and would say that it didn't have any major problems that bothered me. That is high praise from me for a teen novel romance.

Overall
I think there could have been a bit more foreshadowing to give away some tidbits of information to lead us to the ending. However the foreshadowing that did exist was a little too obvious. It sometimes felt like a minor character was screaming at me (as the reader) to make sure I picked up on a tidbit. I like my foreshadowing a little more subtle. Even if I miss one piece then maybe I pick up another and so it keeps the suspense on-going. There is really a talent to doing this and if Watson worked with a mystery writer/editor I think she could really enhance her mystery writing capabilities.
Overall I would try another Mary Watson book. I would definitely be aware that there are moments of extreme teen-ness (if you will). However I believe you can't knock a book for feeling teen when it's in the teen genre. If you hate fantasy teen tropes then I would stay away from this one as they are all there. But if you're okay with getting what you expected then The Wren Hunt is likely for you.

To read this and more of my reviews visit my blog at Epic Reading

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,032 reviews348 followers
April 14, 2018
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wren is being hunted by the people who hate her the most - the Judges. Bound every year to be chased, Wren faces the difficult decision to undertake an undercover assignment to change her families fate.

The opening scenes were very confusing. Nothing is really explained at first, meaning for a good 30% of the books opening I had no clue about what was going on and what kind of world I was in. Was it contemporary? Dystopian? Or a mixture of fantasy, urban fantasy and contemporary? There’s minimal world building, but I finally established this is set in modern day Ireland with a thriller/urban fantasy feel to it. I understand that this was perhaps intentional, as it mirrored the main characters current feelings - but for me, I hate being left ‘in the dark’.

I liked that this was set in Ireland. It’s a country rich with folklore, which meant it was easy to imagine the events that were happening could really occur here, but I just wish the other aspects of the story were better developed. The magical system leaves a lot to the imagination, and again left me with lots of unanswered questions with regards to the rituals and gifts.

The characters are ok. Wren, the main character, is likeable enough. She’s charismatic and charming but also isn’t a push over. I wasn’t keen on her relationship with Tarc however, which I found a little contrived and rushed. There’s no slow development of their relationship, chemistry or tension. It was just, a bit, boring unfortunately. The other characters are rather enigmatic, underused and under developed. I still couldn’t tell you what exactly the Judges and Augurs are, and why they dislike each other. And Cassa also doesn’t really feel like the antagonist they’re suppose to be. Disappointing.

There was potential here for a unique fantasy steeped in folklore but it just left me with too many unanswered questions.
Profile Image for Ellie.
571 reviews2,056 followers
August 13, 2018
↠ 4.5 stars

This is a very "me" book. Kinda bizarre but also cool, aspects of fabulism, trees and nature lore, Irish myth, slightly dark and creepy and doesn't always entirely make logical sense but that adds to atmosphere instead of being weird af.

Anyway, so at first this book opens up with a group of boys chasing the heroine which they apparently do every year in a twisted imitation of tradition. The heroine is an "augur" and the boys are "judges" (these are rival groups of magical people FYI) BUT the boys don't know the heroine is an augur and they just chase her because they're fckin rude bullies. Then it turns an interesting turn where the heroine takes an internship at the enemy's HQ to learn more about judges so the augurs can defeat the judges. The chase part then the intern part sounds discordant, right? It's not actually, but this book is definitely one where you're slightly confused but intrigued at first, then really get into it. (EDIT: Okay, undercover mission sounds better than internship but erm)

I was really fond of the entire cast of characters, and Tarc and Wren I was especially fond of, which is probably good because they were the main characters. The setting I also adored - it's set in Kilshamble, which is this little fictional Irish village and it gave such a sense of earthiness (??? yeah I'm not sure how to describe it otherwise) and mysticism to the story that I loved. And yet another thing I loved was the writing style - there were small bits in there that conveyed a quirkiness that really added to the magical sense of the narrative.

TL;DR: Definitely a new favourite standalone. It's not entirely the "part thriller, part love story" it's sold to be, though it's definitely an enjoyable, slightly quirky and magical book. With a bit of prevalent darkness too. It has an air of mysticism similar to The Raven Boys, almost, though the stories aren't really similar.
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,403 followers
April 22, 2018
thanks Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a review copy of The Wren Hunt in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own

FIND MY REVIEW FOR THE WREN HUNT BY MARY WATSON ON MY BLOG @ AMBSREADS

The Wren Hunt was a book I was pretty excited for. Unfortunately, I hadn’t read the blurb and had no idea what this book was about. Or maybe I had and my view simply got warped way off track of what this book actually is about. The Wren Hunt is a book full of mystery and magic, set in an urban environment. I typically love urban fantasy. For me, you can do no wrong if it is urban fantasy. However, I just didn’t fall in love with this. Almost everything about The Wren Hunt fell flat for me. From the characters to the pacing, to the world building, it just wasn’t there. It’s really unfortunate because this story would have been enjoyable, otherwise.

Mary Watson’s The Wren Hunt follows the story of Wren. I honestly don’t even know how to describe the plot because it’s…strange. I believe Wren and her family can see the future? It’s difficult to explain when I don’t even understand the story myself. Wren runs away from a group of boys (Judges) every year, they run through the woods and they always take something from her when she is caught. It is strange, for lack of better description. After one of these frightening runs through the forest Wren/someone she lives with sees the future (has a vision? Becomes That’s So Raven?) that requires them to infiltrate the Judges lives.

Trust me, it’s just as weird to read about and I truly don’t know how much more in depth I can get without confusing myself more. So, I’m going to jump into what I did and didn’t like about this particular story. Be prepared, there are a lot more dislikes than likes.

L I K E S
✗ INTERESTING STORYLINE

The storyline was strange but interesting. I don’t even know how to describe it. I was reading this book by a pool and honestly, it was enjoyable to an extent. The story moves along and Wren faces many struggles, primarily of the boy and romantic feeling kind.

Again, not much I can say because no matter how interesting the storyline was it is still one of the most confusing books I have read to date.

D I S L I K E S
✗ SAME CONVERSATIONS ON THE SAME PAGE

This annoyed me a lot. Wren and several other characters repeated almost everything they said. When I noticed it, I couldn’t stop. It felt that whenever a useless conversation was happening it had to be repeated over the spread of two pages at least twice. It was annoying. Especially since this book leant too much into romance for me. I wanted urban fantasy fun, instead, I got a Romeo and Juliet style love story. Boring.

✗ WORLD BUILDING WAS NONEXISTENT

Honestly, it was nowhere. We are thrown into this world in which two groups of people are at war and given nothing. You’re left to work out things as the story goes and I didn’t enjoy that. I truly wanted something more from the story and it seemed that wasn’t going to happen at any point.

For my next couple points, I’m just going to leave the heading and not put anything under them. Why? Because I really can’t be bothered. I barely remember anything from The Wren Hunt and I have other reviews to write so I don’t have time to flip through the book and find why I didn’t enjoy these things.

✗ CONFUSING + POOR EXECUTION

✗ LACK OF CHARACTER DEPTH

✗ EVERYTHING HAPPENS TOO FAST BUT ALSO SLOW AF

Overall, this book is forgettable. I read this book almost a week ago at the time of me writing this review and I can barely remember anything. It was a mash of strange events that were never explained. The weak characters couldn’t carry the depth of the storyline the author was trying to push either. It was, overall, an incredibly weak execution on an exciting storyline premise. I will not be reading the second book.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,385 reviews976 followers
December 7, 2017
**4.5 stars**

I loved The Wren Hunt because it was genuinely different to anything I had read before and written so beautifully that occasionally the prose practically sang an aria.

The story itself was highly immersive – beginning with a chase and developing into a deep seated mythology that was beautifully layered and highly engaging. we follow Wren as she infiltrates the enemy camp so to speak in an attempt to steal the one thing that can save her family.

The Wren Hunt is a very surreal read in a lot of ways – very modern and yet very old school in concept, it is a tale of family feuds and misconceptions, of magic and of folklore and all that is mixed up into an honestly compelling tale that will keep you hooked all the way through.

It is a difficult book to review in a lot of ways because you don’t want to spoil the heart of it but there isn’t really a genre box you can put it in – all I can say is you probably have not read anything quite like it and if you love a good story well told well you certainly get that here.

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction).
442 reviews6,499 followers
May 13, 2019
description
Originally posted on A Frolic Through Fiction

*Rated 4.5/5 stars!


Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. This in no way affects my opinion.

Based on Irish mythology, The Wren Hunt follows Wren Silke as she’s chased through the woods every year as part of a warped game. If the people chasing her found out that she is an augur – someone who can read things in patterns – then the chase would become a lot more deadly. But Wren isn’t just being chased – she ends up on a hunt of her own as she sets out to find the answer to an ancient secret in or to save her family.

As you might imagine, this book is dark. A fantasy story based on folklore, the atmosphere of this book is just so right. With everyone having some ability to find out more about the present and future, it’s hard to escape the feeling that everyone has a secret to hide. And with Wren’s danger of being discovered as an augur, the paranoia of being watched pervades the story at all times. The darkness hangs heavy over the story – but in a mysterious, intriguing kind of way. Rather than feeling like too much, it lures you in and you simply have to know more. And that’s just it, that’s the folklore element I adore. it encompasses the intriguing, magical but dangerous side of folklore and magic, and it’s impossible not to feel it when reading this book.

Almost counteracting that darkness is Wren herself. I ADORED Wren as a narrator. She seemed so human. She was just a teenage girl and sure, she lived in a world of magic. But that didn’t take away any of the authenticity to her voice. Her reactions were so relatable, so real. She would acknowledge when something was strange or awkward, make snarky comments or drip in the sarcasm where you would expect it. And more interesting still, you’re almost thrown into Wren’s life with her. With her narrating, she wouldn’t formally introduce her friends and family. She would jump right in with a simple “Smith walked in”, no long introductory description of who they are, how they’re related or what they look like. Because that’s just not natural, right? You don’t typically tend to break off mid conversation and give someone an introductory paragraph. And I have to admit, sometimes it took me awhile to catch hold of how certain characters were related to Wren – but only because they were mentioned so naturally that it almost escaped notice. Wren’s voice was strong and authentic, and I honestly think she was my favourite part of the book.

I will say that one thing I didn’t love too much was the romance. It was mentioned in the synopsis so I knew it was coming and was already hesitant, so a lot of this is probably just down to my own preference. But one thing I often think about fantasy books is that a romance isn’t necessary, and I think that applies to this one too. It wasn’t awful, and I didn’t hate it. But I also wouldn’t have missed it. I think I might have enjoyed it more had the love interest felt more established too, rather than just being there to be the love interest. But still, I didn’t begrudge it too much.

I was so hooked on this story. It was such an addictive read and let me tell you, things get really intense real quick. I was fascinated learning about the magic systems of this world and how it all worked. I couldn’t put the book down, and I honestly think it’s such an underrated read.

A story of magic, folklore, secrets, and mystery, this book feels like a hidden gem of sorts. I’ve not read anything like it before, but I’m so glad I stumbled across it.
Profile Image for Julie Zantopoulos.
Author 3 books2,245 followers
August 17, 2019
This book starts off real rocky for me! The author uses a bunch of words/terminology/lore that isn't explained at all BUT after you realize there's a glossary at the back of the book things get easier to understand. The book also starts off super intense with a scene from the Wren Hunt where they're legit hunting our MC Wren through the woods-and it sticks with you!

There are still parts of this novel that I'd handle better, particularly David as .a MC and Sib and Ash's relationship with Wren...and Simon, cause what's his deal? But overall I really did enjoy the book. It has a lot of themes that we see a lot. A chosen one, slow burn forbidden romance, betrayal and high stakes. Overall, they were done decently but I missed some of the really lyrical writing that usually comes with Irish tales. However, the writing was solid and I dug our MC's sarcasm and ability to think on her feet. We didn't have a weak girl to follow, she was pretty badass.

While we are talking about badasses, Tarc can...well, he can get it. I can't wait to see how things progress in book two, because I will be reading on. I'm down with a MC who is like "oh this guy, yeah we have fun together now and then" and then sees another guy and is like oh hey, I like the look of you. Get it, girl. And honestly, Tarc is kinda swoon worthy even if the idea of teenage security guards is more than a little ridiculous. lol

Overall, a fun read and I'm glad I stopped sleeping on it.
Profile Image for Karen ⊰✿.
1,346 reviews
March 5, 2018
You know those books that seem to sound like something you would be interested in, and then you start reading and just feel like something is completely missing? That is The Wren Hunt for me.
The start is really confusing and I couldn't actually work out what was happening. Even by 30% I still wasn't engaged with the story and found it really difficult to keep reading.

I've seen so many positive reviews and so I am really glad this book obviously resonates with people. For me I just didn't really engage with the story or the characters or care about what was happening next. And I can't really even explain to you why that is. My best advice is that if the synopsis sounds interesting and you like folklore/fantasy then perhaps you can give it a try and have a different experience to me.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Rae .
301 reviews73 followers
October 26, 2018
The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson is a magical story about two groups of people, the Augurs and Judges, who battle for power in Ireland. Wren, raised and loved by a family of Augurs, is caught in the middle of a game she doesn’t fully understand.

This book was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, it was entertaining. The pacing was good, and it had enough interesting elements to keep me fully engaged. On the other hand, I felt like so much didn’t get explained. I was left with so many questions and things I didn’t understand. The book felt unfinished. I truly thought this was set to be part of a series and was really surprised that it was a standalone novel. As part of a series, I would have been fine with the unanswered questions, expecting they would be answered in a later book. As a standalone, I didn’t like how the book left me hanging.

The story concept was neat. It reminded me slightly of a magical Romeo and Juliet. Wren was truly a pawn in a game between the Augurs and Judges, both sides intent on using her for their own aims of power and deceit. It was interesting watching the interactions between Wren and the Judges as she undertook her undercover assignment. The Judges were a hard group, strict and unfeeling in their sense of justice. Wren had to navigate the politics carefully to protect herself and to complete her tasks.

While I enjoyed the story concept, the baffling set of unanswered questions really started with the opening chapters. The wren hunt. I was hoping that event would get explained further, especially Wren’s role in it, but I never got a satisfactory answer. I know it was a holiday and a traditional, but the village’s twist on the hunt never really made a whole lot of sense to me.

I also never understood the utter loathing David and his crew had towards Wren. Again, why? Some backstory around this would have been appreciated, because you don’t typically hate someone for no reason at all. Was it simply a case of bullying? Maybe, but I’m not sure.

The ending was odd and felt abrupt. A lot happened in the last couple chapters, but then the book ended without wrapping everything up. What happened exactly? Was there a winner? Did everyone lose? Is the game over? I have so many questions! The ending wasn’t at all satisfying, in my opinion.

The characters were intriguing. I liked the complexity of the Judges and the Augurs and how different personality traits fit with each group. I enjoyed getting to know Wren, Talc, and Cassa—those characters were nicely developed and fun to delve into.

Would I recommend reading this book? Despite its unanswered questions, it was still an enjoyable read. If you don’t mind some remaining holes when you finish a book, check out The Wren Hunt.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kelly.
307 reviews31 followers
March 5, 2018
4.5 stars!

If I had to pick five words to describe this book it would be these:

Gorgeous. Lyrical. Magical. Unique. Enchanting.

The Wren Hunt took me a little while to get into and I’ll happily admit that I read the first few chapters and really didn’t have a clue what on Earth was going on. (So if you do pick this up and feel the same, trust me when I say you should push on through because it will be worth it.) But it didn’t take long until I realised I was finding it hard to put this book down. The story itself is really enchanting and I absolutely adored how steeped in mythology and folklore this book is. It is one of my favourite things when reading a book like this and I couldn’t get enough of it.

The plot of this story is a fairly complex one and that is why it takes a little bit of time to figure out what is going on. The augurs and the judges are both fighting to secure their powers and with Wren being an augur, she is sent to work among the judges as a spy to earn their trust and gain valuable information to help restore her family’s power. Wren’s position in Harkwood House is a dangerous one, if she is discovered then it can only end badly and knowing this really had me on edge. The nature of the lyrical writing in this story definitely added to the ominous feel at times but I loved how it helped to build suspense as the plot moved forward.

I really love a book with magic and I definitely loved all the different powers that the augurs had but Wren’s in particular drew my attention because it is just so natural and the way nature played its role in this book was really beautiful to me. I was intrigued by all of the traditions and rituals that we read about in The Wren Hunt and they definitely added to this atmospheric tale.

There are some very wonderful characters in this book. Wren is our main character and the book is told from her POV so we get to know a lot about what she is feeling and thinking. I liked Wren a lot and actually felt quite sorry for her at times while she was being used like a pawn in this augurs vs judges game but she is level headed and I admired her courageousness. Two other honorary mentions from me are Tarc because hello! and Cassa because I just really found myself drawn to her and would like to know more about her.

There is romance in this book but it certainly doesn’t take anything away from the plot if that kind of thing worries you. I actually thought it was well developed and the writing style definitely added to the romantic feel of the book in general too.

It goes without saying that my absolute favourite thing about this book was the writing style. The prose is just dreamy and gorgeous in every way. It truly feels like this story was woven together rather than written and that every word feels like it has meaning. The writing itself is enchanting which definitely ups the ante when it comes to how magical this book is. I really found myself lost in Wren’s story.

The Wren Hunt is a unique, carefully woven story laced with mythology and folktales. Its magic will enchant you and its twists and turns will keep you reading on until the end.

Thanks to Bloomsbury, Mary Watson and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange of a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Kate (beautifulbookland).
372 reviews115 followers
December 1, 2017
This is the kind of book that you read, and then immediately want to reread because there's so much more that you could take in. I can't even believe how much I enjoyed it; it was sort of touch and go at the beginning because I had no idea what the heck was happening, but after about 15%? I was fucking gripped, my god.

The Plot

Wren is an Augur, a once-powerful people who used to control a powerful kind of magic; but that power was taken from them by the Judges, who are determined to bring about the end of the Augurs. In order to save her people and her family, Wren is given the dangerous job of infiltrating the house of the most powerful and influential Judge, Cassa Harkness. And so begins Wren's dangerous dance of lying and stealing, all the while trying to prevent a war between the two peoples.

(There is one other element to the story, in that Wren is chased through her village every Christmas by a group of boys (who happen to work in the Harkness House. There's some deep meaning about the wren that Wren is named after and also running for her freedom, but I didn't really understand it so let's just skip that, yeah?)

Like I said earlier, it did take me a while to get into Wren's world. For some reason, I was expecting her to live in a fantasy land, but then she kicked a Coke can and her neighbour berated a Kardashian for her marriage choice, and then I was sort of confused. Are we here and now? Is this based on real Irish mythology? I was confused (but in the best possible way because I love this book).

The Characters

The characters are all deliciously 3D. There's seriously nothing worse than a flat, pancake character, you know? But there were so many layers to all of the characters in The Wren Hunt. The story is narrated by Wren, and I loved her! She was so snarky and brave, but there was also a sense of vulnerability that you got from her.

I went into this book not really expecting to come out with a new book boyfriend but then Tarc came onto the scene and just...just take my heart, Tarc. Just take it.

The Writing

Okay, the writing worried me at first because I've seen this book being compared to The Raven Cycle (I fucking hated The Raven Cycle). But I needn't have worried! While I thought that The Raven Cycle came off as a little bit pretentious, it wasn't the case with Mary's writing. It's lyrical and beautiful and sometimes there were things that took me about 4 pages to fully understand, but I loved it. It's enchanting and rich, and I couldn't help but be drawn in.

The Verdict

I have now added 6th March to my calendar so that I can buy a physical copy of The Wren Hunt because I fucking loved it and I need it on my shelf. Like, yesterday.

I highly, highly recommend giving this book a look. It's so beautiful but so creepy as well, and there just aren't words to give this book justice. It's one of those books that you just have to read for yourself.

*Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book*
Profile Image for The Nerd Daily.
720 reviews342 followers
July 6, 2018
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Nathalie DeFelice

Wren hates Christmas time. Every year she gets “hunted” down by the boys that live in her Irish village because of her name. However, there’s a deeper meaning to their hunt. You see, Wren is an Augur—a group of people who are able to discern patterns in order to use their talents. However, Wren’s people remain in hiding because of the Judges, people similar to the Augurs, but whose talents lie within nature itself. The Judges have forced Wren’s people into hiding, and when they begin to destroy the Augur’s sources of power, Wren must go undercover to infiltrate their enemies stronghold to save her people.

She finds herself the intern of Cassa Harkness, a powerful woman in the Judge world, and Wren suddenly finds herself in a web of lies in order to save her from a potentially deadly fate. However, not all is as it seems. As Wren begins to unravel the threads of truth for herself she finds herself unstable and unsure of who or what she might be. On top of that, she’s also managed to capture the interest of one of Cassa’s bodyguards, and she can’t help but return that interest. This story will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to unravel the mystery of Wren and the Judges and Augurs.

This story is captivating from the very beginning. You experience everything from Wren’s point of view—the fear, worry, and frustration as these boys chase her through the woods. The fear that she feels as she realises that their chase is no longer just a game, but that it means something more.

This tale is set in Ireland and looks at the mysticism of this land. I love how the tale of the Wren is woven into a much larger fantasy that involves a lot of Irish myth and folklore. Not only that, but the fact that you’re following Wren on this mysterious mission, and that you’re essentially racing against the clock to find all the pieces of the puzzle makes this story all the more thrilling. Each chapter comes with an excerpt from a diary that is relevant to the story, and leaves you wanting to figure out the story before you’re even halfway there. Then there’s the romance, I feel that it’s definitely approached well, and I would have loved to see it developed a little more.

Wren’s personality in this story is unstable, but it really works. She’s in a world with a lot uncertainty and hidden meaning, on top of being cursed with an ability that could possibly leave her mad. Although quite a chunk of her story takes place between her Irish village and the Harkness house, Mary Watson did very well in defining both places to make them distinct, I love being able to visualise the places in my stories.

The Wren Hunt has some interesting characters, all of them hiding secrets. If there’s a character that you’ll want to know more about once you’ve read and finished this story is Sibeal. Something about her personality drew her to me in the story, and although it might be nothing, I would have loved to see more interactions between her and Wren. Her sister Aisling paled in comparison, although she was the opposite of Wren and made to shine in social situations, unlike our protagonist, I felt that Aisling’s depth was rather shallow. Her motivations didn’t sit right with me, although others might disagree with that. David is the character that everyone will love to hate, as he tends to antagonise Wren quite a bit in this story. However, if there’s anything this story can be described as, it could definitely be described as unexpected. All of the characters have these hidden depths and humanities that make the characters more relatable to the readers. I don’t doubt that everyone will find a favourite.

If I had to decide on anything to complain about it would be that I wanted more of this story. The end left me feeling like I needed to find out more, if there’s going to be a sequel and if there’s not, there needs to be. The story left a lot of questions unanswered, many of them spoilers, so I’ll leave them unsaid in this review. This story might also be a little triggery for those who have experienced assault, so I would say approach this story with caution.

Watson’s descriptions can be vivid at times, which is excellent, but not always for those who have really vivid imaginations. Other than that, this story would definitely be perfect for those who’ve read the Raven Cycle and Wink Poppy Midnight. I feel that this story deserves 10 out of 10! It’s been a while that I’ve read a thriller this good. Honestly, this story cannot come out soon enough for those of us in the states! Definitely pick it up when it’s released!
Profile Image for Lena .
92 reviews47 followers
February 2, 2018
This book is not something I read before and I loved it. It has many magical realism elements but still has such a romantic feel that it doesn't completely fit that genre. It just was an amazing book and I hope I'll read many more books like this one in 2018!

The overall story was great! The ending came as a complete surprise for me. I never expected things to end like they did! It was all so original and creative. The magic was what took this book from being a good book to being a great book.

Something that was a bit confusing is the overal feeling of the book, it has a very historical or even high fantasy kind of vibe. But, apparently that was not the case, it's situated in the now. I love the vibe and the way the story is told feels very magical and everytime words like heroine and prosecco are used it really felt like a reminder that it's a modern story (Right, they aren't wearing medieval clothing they are living in the same world as me). After a while I got used to it but it took me quite some time.

The romance was so adorable, Wren was cute either way, but Wren in love was just a whole new level. I'm not going to name the love interest to save the story but he was certainly a new book boyfriend for me! He was a classic YA love interest but with some very interesting sides.

This book is called similar to the Raven Cycle, but I was personally quite  underwhelmed by the Raven Cycle. This book was so much better. I see why they would compare it and if you liked the Raven Cycle you definitely have to read this! But if you are like me and weren't the biggest fan of the Raven Boys than please give this book a chance because it's amazing!

I loved the characters in this book so much! Many of them had two sides and it was all perfect! It just makes them so much more real. Every bad guy had a good side and a reason to be bad and the good guys had some really bitchy sides too. It kept the book exciting until the very last page. I loved how the Wren hunt really was the red line in this book and it kind of connected all the characters. 

I was so sad when the book ended. I'm actually quite disappointed that this is a stand alone novel! I would love to read how this story continuous. It was so easy to love some of the characters and I became quite invested in Wren to say the least!

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Profile Image for Sarah.
137 reviews25 followers
March 5, 2018
I received an ARC of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing in excahnge for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

I have to admit I was a little scared to start The Wren Hunt – being chased through the forest by a bunch of guys as a “game” was terrifying to me haha. I am a complete chicken; I cannot do scary.

However, thank goodness – it wasn’t as terrifying as I had imagined it was going to be.

The synopsis of this novel is not wrong when it says there is a web of deceit – it was spun so well, I found myself almost guessing what was going to happen, but still quite surprised when the turn of events and revelations occurred. You honestly don’t know who to trust throughout the whole novel – you literally cannot trust ANYONE, not even those who raised you – the ones you call family.

I found the characters personalities quite broad – everyone had their own little personality or quirkiness. I found some of the characters a little disturbing and I swear they would quite literally stab you in the back without a second thought.

I particularly liked the main protagonist Wren, I just felt quite drawn to her. She is strong but she also has her weaknesses – she wasn’t this perfect character. She is a little awkward in my opinion and that made her more endearing to me.

And of course we have romance in the novel – I was swooning over it to be honest. I just need some romance in a book – whether it’s teen angst or not haha. I’m still crushing on Tarc and probably will for a while. It is and isn’t a slow burn – it’s definitely not insta love in my opinion though.

I have to talk about the magic! It was unique in terms of the different types of gifts the characters could have but also a little ‘old school magic’ in terms of the rituals that took place. The magic and war between the Augurs and Judges is unlike anything I have read before. Magic is so crucial to the novel – it’s what started the war between the two ancient magics and is the main focus throughout the whole novel.

The Wren Hunt ended up being quite different altogether in regards to my original expectations. The book is quite slow (aside from the whole scary woods and being chased incident), It takes it’s time and by the end of the novel I was quite pleased with the plot and how it played out. The Wren Hunt takes it’s time filling you in on the background between the Augurs and Judges, the magic, the old ways. It doesn’t info dump on you at any point throughout the novel.

I haven’t heard any news on whether this is a duology or series but I am really hoping there will be a second book – the ending has definitely been left open for more.
Profile Image for Rachel.
292 reviews77 followers
Shelved as 'x-dnf'
August 10, 2022
DNF at 15%

I don't feel this book at all as I'm not in the mood for urban fantasy with a confusing hidden magic system. Also I don't like a single character after reading 60 pages...sadly...
Profile Image for All Things Urban Fantasy.
1,921 reviews611 followers
December 20, 2018
THE WREN HUNT'S premise intrigued me. The comparison to Maggie Stiefvater and Holly Black's writing proved promising as I've generally enjoyed their work. With a female protagonist and an interesting new world, THE WREN HUNT checked all the boxes to be a mesmerizing standalone.

Unfortunately the world building is practically non-existent. Fifty pages in, I had no clear idea of the rules of Wren's world, or what the judges and augurs actually were, or why they were fighting. At first I imagined that it was a strictly fantastical version of Ireland, but then Wren pulled out a cellphone. As such, I could never be completely immersed in THE WREN HUNT.

Despite how special Wren is, her part in the plot is largely passive. Things happen to and around Wren. She doesn't know what's going on and frustratingly enough doesn't ask questions. THE WREN HUNT is a quick read despite its length, and Wren's voice is enjoyable. However, the lack of world building, Wren's passivity to the plot, and the lack of build up to the romance, left me wanting a much stronger narrative to match the potential of the synopsis.
Profile Image for Kirsti.
2,456 reviews83 followers
March 10, 2019
This was an odd one for me. I read the first 100 or so pages about a week ago, couldn't get into it and almost gave up. I decided to give it a go after DNFing another book this week, and I still didn't really get into or end up liking this one. It wasn't bad exactly, it was just so vague that I really don't know what I read or why anything happened, or even what was important. I don't really know what any of the characters achieved so I'm just left with a jumbled mess of confusion at the end.

This has the same 'magical realism' feel that I generally dislike, so maybe that's it. It's also rushed through, especially the predestined romance.

Really pretty cover though, just an odd story that personally wasn't for me. Three stars.
Profile Image for Book Barbarian  (Tammy Smith).
306 reviews68 followers
October 4, 2020

This was magical – this was…..something different. I was really surprised by how much I liked this dystopian-ish fantasy, something about the tone just kept me entranced.

Wow. This was a surprise, I mean it wasn’t perfect but so much of it just appealed to me as I read it.

I also love reviews that are so split – doesn’t it make you want to read it just so you know which side of the fence you are on? Am I the only person that likes that....

It wasn’t completely perfect: There is very little set up in terms of world building when you first start. No map or glossary so you feel a little lost - reading the synopsis helps but there was a lot that I wish had been more explained in terms of the world and the characters but possibly, that is being set up in book 2 . The ending failed me somewhat but there were some twists and turns that threw me although I believe it lost some steam towards the end the entire book was a really good read.

I really liked Wren and the magic system in here was so believable and brilliant, that really caught my attention. I usually hate fairy-tale type stories but this just worked it in a way without being boring or using flowery writing (that I loathe) I found myself drawn to reading more and more than is how you know, it’s a good book. The author keeps your attention and builds up atmosphere and tension really well. Although I found certain character flaws and scenes strange - I loved it.

If you want something different, try this for an unusual perspective, new ideas and a whole new way of looking at all the familiar tropes you love.

Rating 3.9

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson
Book 1 in a duology
Publish Date: November 6th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/10
Young Adult – Fantasy – Contemporary- Magic

February 18, 2018
Trigger warning for physical and psychological abuse of the main character by a group of young men.

I think I want to rate this 4.5 stars? But I'm not sure? My head is such a mess right now!

Basically, this book was one giant mindfuck. At first, that wasn't in a good way, as there was a bit too much detail on the world and druid culture without explanation. I felt lost and confused for a while. BUT THEN... it all very slowly started coming together, and I realised I was being played by the author. If you read the book, you'll learn what wickering is. And you will realise that you have unknowingly been drawn into a trap and bespelled.

(I'm so glad, reading other reviews, that I'm not the only one who was utterly lost in the beginning.)

I read the whole thing with a growing sense of unease, a constant unsettled feeling. Wren felt uneasy and unprepared and uncertain of who and what to trust, especially as time went on, and so did I. And then, when it all came to an end, when I thought I'd figured it all out, everything went topsy turvy, and I was stunned. That ending – just how it turned everything upside down – deserves an applause.

I've already said the start was confusing because there wasn't enough explanation or context initially. (I also felt like I needed a pronunciation guide for this book...) That being said, the world-building did become something spectacular. I loved the ties to the old druids, as well as how the different kinds had different types of abilities. I loved the stories passed through generations. I have a thing for all things fae, especially those stemming from the Great British Isles, and while this didn't talk to much about the fae, except in stories, the druids satisfied my love just as well. If anything, this felt new and fresh, as I've never read a story about druids in our time, only seen them mentioned in histories or referred to in historical fantasies.

Because I seemingly can't enjoy anything with at least a smidgen of romance (I'm one of those people), I can assure you there is some grade A star-crossed lovers shenanigans going on in this book. The initial attraction that slowly grew into more, with both parties tentative and hiding things from each other, but ultimately drawn together by something greater? YESSS. I loved it. But it also broke my poor little heart.

I'm very nervous right now, as I'm looking at the Goodreads page, and there isn't any mention of a book 2. While the end could be the end, there is so much left to do, so much to explain and unravel and sort out. I don't want it to be the end! I'm sure the author has done this on purpose to play even more tricks on my brain, as now I'll be thinking about and trying to imagine what happened after and rereading just so that I can notice how things fell into place knowing the ending.

Overall, an incredible debut with the prettiest cover, perfect for fans of folklore, Ireland, and eerie settings!

PS - PAY ATTENTION TO THE QUOTES AT THE START OF CHAPTERS.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carolien.
763 reviews143 followers
January 18, 2021
Mary Watson won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2006 and was included in the Africa39 project to identify 39 of the most promising writers under the age of 40 with the potential and talent to define trends in the development of literature from Africa and the African diaspora. The Wren Hunt is a YA coming of age novel set in modern Ireland where Wren Silke has grown up as an augur who has the ability to see patterns in ordinary objects. The augurs are in a battle for power with the Judges and Wren is sent on a mission to spy on some Judges and find an important stone which will assist the augurs to recover some of their powers. In the process she will learn that not all is what it seems and have her preconceived ideas and family loyalty tested to the utmost. It took me a while to get into the story, but I enjoyed the plot and the Irish magic that infused it in the end. I look forward to reading the sequel to learn more about these characters and world of magic
Profile Image for Kelly.
464 reviews
March 17, 2018
Actual rating- 3.75 stars, because I'm awkward and couldn't quite decide on 3.5 or 4 stars.

The premise of the story really interested me. It starts off on Wren Day/St Stephens Day which is the 26th December. Wren is our main character whom represents the wren of the above celebrated day.

​I'm going to try and put this into a list of positives and negatives where I can, because I've left this review a couple of days and I'm still not sure how I feel about the book. I enjoyed it, but part of me is just confused.


First off, I'm a fan of the cover. Yes, that's probably shallow, but I don't care. I love how the bird is also part of a tree if you look at it a certain way and in real life, the gold parts make for a nice texture. It's also really simplistic, which is nice for a change, but additionally lends itself to the at times dark nature of the book.

The book started with Wren being hunted, which led to a nice atmospheric feel, but I thought the wren hunts would have made more of an impact on the overall story than they did later on in the book. I understand that the title doesn't just imply Wren being hunted, but that she's also looking for something, but still.

​I really enjoyed the Irish mythology and language that was put into the book (and Happy St Patrick's Day to any Irish people reading this!), along with the powers that Wren and her fellow augurs had because they were all so varied. I enjoyed reading about how Wren's different relationships with her family and community were intertwined because they just felt like any normal family.

​Now I don't know if some versions have minor changes to the blurb, as I've seen some reviews where people weren't happy to find romance added, but my copy says 'Part thriller, part love story...'. I agree with that, but I think they were equally balanced out.
To me, the development between Wren and her love interest was believable- there was attraction at their first encounter, but thankfully no insta-love to be seen. The thriller aspects were definitely there too- plenty of tension during Wren's time in Harkness House. That was one thing that interested me- that Wren, an augur, and the boys who hunted her, all judges, were enemies from way back when.


​Now onto some things I didn't like. I'd already read that parts of the beginning were confusing and/slow. This turned out to be true after the first couple of chapters and the first wren hunt. I think this was to let the audience take it in and get some sense of the world Wren lived in. In one sense, I suppose the genre can technically be classed as some kind of urban fantasy or urban thriller, as it's set in modern day Ireland, so the world building was minimal aside from the magic and how it all worked.

​I think that was the book's first issue. Some of the augur's most important places, ect, for magic were explained well and shown, but it's been half a week now since I finished the book and I still couldn't explain to you how their gifts come to them, or why certain people don't get one. It felt a bit...rushed? As though there was so much to get in plot-wise, important backstory elements were missed.

​I did understand that the judges had stolen magic belonging to the augurs and that there had been war between in the past. But some of the rituals that happen with both groups also lost me a bit. And as I've already said, it would have been nice to see more hunts, as the book suggests. 

However, there are some very good plot twists which I didn't see coming and in the end, learnt that I couldn't take any character at face value. Despite life getting in the way and me having to take my time with this one, it did keep drawing me back in.
I would recommend The Wren Hunt and will probably re-read it at some point, to see if I get more of an explanation the second time around now I know what happens?
Profile Image for Jeanna.
311 reviews27 followers
November 2, 2018
Wow! This intricate story is one of my new favorites!

The Judges have been stealing Augurs’ land and taking it for their own, stealing their magic and making the sides unequal in nature’s balance. It is time for Augurs to fight back. Wren, an Augur who can foretell the future, goes undercover as an intern to find a hidden map that will lead her family to the magic they so need. Working for the Judges, Wren discovers more than maps and her loyalty starts to waver. The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson is an immersive novel with superb world building, fantastic writing, and a clever plot that won’t leave you for days afterwards.

Mary Watson brings major spooky vibes in her YA debut. The setting descriptions: a legendary cottage, dew laden forests, farmlands, and abandoned buildings all play a part in creating such a spooky atmosphere in The Wren Hunt. The intricacy of the imagery will sweep readers away into The Wren Hunt world. It is certainly perfect to read during the autumn months! Watson whisks you away to Ireland right in time for Stephen's Day. To be honest, I had to do some extra research on celebrations, like the wren hunt, and other Celtic traditions. Watson builds the foundation of her world assuming most readers will be familiar with these customs. Beyond that, the magical notes of the brewing war between the Augurs and the Judges begins to take shape. The differences between the Judges and the Augurs—this long estrangement builds within the story, almost to the point where the gap between them seems almost tangible. The world building was superb, giving readers layers of magical history.

The writing was melodic. Watson poetically tells Wren’s story. Its fast pacing is magnificently done.

The Wren Hunt has a large cast of characters. It was difficult to keep all of them straight especially two characters on the Augurs side—Simon and Scott. Their similar names always confused me. Yet, several of them stand out. Wren, of course, shines as the star. She’s quiet, thoughtful, and determined. She goes undercover for her family to return what they've lost, even when her family doesn’t even give her all the answers. She’s trusting, which is a bit frustrating at times but realistic. Wren is not the sort of character who knows it all—about her powers, the Judges, their history, and even her own history. So, in that way, we learn as she learns which is always the best way to develop a character as well as learn more about the world they live in. Tarc quickly becomes a favorite. He's curious and incredibly flirtatious. He is, by far, one of the most interesting characters with his mysterious background. Hopefully, in the upcoming companion novel, we shall hear more from him.

The ending held one of most clever and masterful reveals I've read in such a long time. The foreshadowing coupled with the incredible world building makes for an absolute must read. The Wren Hunt calls for an immediate reread to fully comprehend how Watson has woven such a fantastical book. This is one of my favorite books of the year!
Profile Image for Briana.
423 reviews124 followers
June 11, 2020
The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson is one of those books with a confusing but intriguing synopsis that I hoped was explained better at some point in the book but I didn’t really “get” the synopsis and I also didn’t “get” the book. This review will be a little negative so if you’re sensitive to negative reviews with little positivity, this is your warning.

The Wren Hunt is about a young girl named Wren who is an augur or some sort of descendant of druids who is bound to be chased by a group of boys called judges. The augurs and the judges are at war and in order to restore their abilities, Wren is tasked with infiltrating the judge headquarters to steal a map to help their cause but while she’s there she falls for a judge guard name Tarc and discovers mysterious, deceit, and betrayal. It’s as if we were given that but from there not much is done to give us more details.

What I enjoyed about the plot was that it’s based on Irish mythology which I find isn’t explored as much in literature, especially in YA. I appreciate that this is an urban fantasy set in contemporary Ireland too. I did actual research about the hunt of the wren, Wren Day, and St. Stephen’s Day and it seems like an interesting culture to learn about, especially since the core of The Wren Hunt (novel) is based on a children’s game.

However, what I enjoyed about it is later marred by lack of development or narrative information. We have no idea why the two groups are at war and we also have no idea what makes Wren such a remarkable and special protagonist. The wrenboys are obsessed with her and make a point to make uncomfortable and somewhat sexually tinged passes and misogynist jokes towards her. I understand that people are jerks, but it was a bit unnerving to see this in a contemporary setting that goes unchecked so much.

The opening is confusing, and we are introduced to so many characters in a short amount of time with no way of placing who is who and what their relationship is with everyone. I found myself skimming early in the book and by the 70% mark I realized that I didn’t really care.

I found Wren irritating and a pet peeve of mine when a young person has a task to accomplish something that depends on the safety of humanity, or in this case, their people’s future is when they don’t give the protagonist any relevant information. If all this responsibility is placed on Wren, then I didn’t get why her mentors and guardians kept information from her or flat out lied about things. It’s manipulative in-character and it’s annoying as a reader because keeping them in the dark is purely for the sake of plot.

The romance was weird and predictable. The story just felt amateur to me like reading a fanfiction about Irish mythology. I respect the attempt, but I just didn’t get into the story. Another thing I want to consider is the audience. There are a lot of amazing and mind-blowing YA out there no matter what age you are and then there is some YA that is very niche that I’d enjoy if I were in the YA group.
Profile Image for Ash | Wild Heart Reads.
243 reviews141 followers
July 23, 2019
The Wren Hunt follows, well, Wren as she navigates subterfuge, magic and increasingly fracturing loyalties.

Wren is an augur, one of the draoithe, but the sources of the augur’s magic are losing their strength and the judges are tightening their hold on the nemeta that are left. If the judges have their way there will be no augurs left. It is Wren that is sent to infiltrate judge headquarters to find the map that will lead the augurs to the stones necessary to complete the Daragishka Knot but little is as it seems.

“We were always told: when something repeats, it gains significance.This is how a pattern is formed. And it felt like something was forming around me. Like I was being woven into something and couldn’t work my way out.”


The Wren Hunt is a unique and rather wonderful debut. It did take some time to really get into it. The hunt at the beginning and, in particular, David’s actions made me rather uncomfortable. It was really quite creepy to the point I almost put it down. That and I had some difficulty visualising the characters. When I get into a book I start seeing it as an movie almost, I’m very much a visual reader and so when I can’t get a clear image of characters and or settings I tend not to be able to sink into the book as much.

That said, once I crossed the 100 page mark or so I started to really enjoy the story. I liked the magic system and how grounded it was. As much as I love full on fancy magic, there’s something about magic that has limits and isn’t necessarily a click of the fingers that makes it so much more real, like it might exist.

Perhaps the strongest part of The Wren Hunt is Wren herself. She goes through some big challenges and I really loved watching her grow and get better at standing up for herself, particularly when it came to her family.

As much as the ending was strong I would have liked to see a bit more of the ‘what happens next’ in terms of judges vs augurs, Wren & her family and Wren and her magic. It wasn’t lacking in anyway but as a reader personally I do like knowing what happened next and The Wren Hunt is a bit more open-ended.

“Where I will wander, I am certain I will decide.”


The Wren Hunt is one of those books that on a second read through I’d bump up the rating. Now that I’m familiar with Watson writing and the world she has created I’d enjoy it more rereading it, indeed the more time that passes the more I think it’s actually a really, really good book. It’s dark, it’s a little creepy, there’s magic and love. If you love witches and modern day with magic I’d definitely recommend The Wren Hunt.

★★★☆

*I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own*

This review and more can be found at https://wildheartreads.wordpress.com/
Profile Image for S.A. Partridge.
Author 18 books63 followers
January 14, 2018
The Wren Hunt, which draws heavily on Irish myth, begins on St Stephen’s Day – the traditional day of the wren, when masked boys chase a symbolic fake wren and are allowed to play tricks on their friends. Watson's protagonist, Wren, finds herself chased by such masked boys, but instead of being innocent fun, this hunt ends in violence, leaving Wren rattled and the boys’ tempers woken.

Wren lives with her grandfather in the small Irish village of Kilshamble. They are augurs, or seers, able to read the future in patterns and nature. Their enemies are the judges, ruled by Calista Harkness, a rich heiress guarded by a coterie of young men – including the boys that hunted Wren in the forest.

The judges hold all the power, leaving the augurs’ magic perpetually weak. Their sources of natural power – or nemeta – have either been depleted or are on judge land. Desperate for their share, the augurs hatch a plan for Wren to infiltrate Harkness House in order to find a map that would help them locate ancient stones of power. Fearless, loyal Wren takes to her task with gusto, but she discovers more secrets than she bargained for, as well as an unlikely ally in one of Calista’s handsome guards.

To keep this review relatively spoiler free, I’ll leave it there, but believe me, there’s so much more to this story than my short synopsis, but I’ll leave you to discover the magical twists and turns for yourself.

Watson’s vivid, dreamy prose brings this spellbinding world to life, so that like Wren, the reader is equally mesmerized by a murmuration of starlings, or the stellar spread of forest moss. It’s a world where ancient rituals exist alongside modern-day life, where everything has meaning and everything is connected.

Wren is immediately likable. An orphan who doesn’t fit in, her augur ‘talent’ alienates her from the community even more. But despite her circumstances, she’s brave and feisty, determined to make a difference and fight for what she believes rightfully belongs to the augurs. She walks straight into the nest of snakes, knowing that danger lurks around every corner.

In fact, I was rooting for her character so much that as the twists got twistier and the turns ever more hazardous, I couldn’t bear to look. But unlike an episode of Game of Thrones, you can’t simply fast forward a book. And why would you want to, when every word is so bewitching?

I LOVED this book. It ticks all the boxes for what makes a great YA– magic and myth, romance, big stakes and haunting prose. But a great work of fiction isn’t just ticked boxes. This novel is the work of someone who really knows what they’re doing, who knows how to use words to draw in and enchant her readers, and who has proven herself time and time again as a master storyteller.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,892 reviews3,107 followers
October 20, 2018
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

The Wren Hunt is an atmospheric YA fantasy set in modern Ireland with deep ties to Irish mythology. A bit clunky to start, it eventually sucks you in, becoming a tale full of tension with some horror/thriller elements and a forbidden romance. Wren is an Augur- part of a secret magical group that has been losing power for decades to their enemies, the Judges. Every Christmas, she is chased through the woods by a group of Judge boys in a sinister game. Hiding her true identity, she takes a dangerous undercover assignment at Harkness House, the center of Judge power. Wren finds herself at the center of dangerous intrigue and deception and must decide who she will be.

There are some pacing issues early on. A very creepy intro gives way to a dense period of info-dumping and uninteresting setup. But once the story gets going and Wren gets deeper into the world, uncovers secrets, and experiences strange things you really don't want to put it down. At times she makes really stupid decisions that feel as if they are intended to move the plot forward, a sign of less mature writing. The romance felt a little rushed, or maybe not as fleshed out as I wanted it to be. However, there are some truly creepy elements, an inventive world, and a tension-filled plot that keeps you turning the pages.

David, the ringleader of Wren's yearly harassers is very creepy and the entire books carries the threat of violence from him, which can be disturbing. In terms of content, be aware that there are a couple instances of animal cruelty, as well as physical violence and an unspoken threat of sexual violence. Despite some problems, I really enjoyed most of my reading in this world and am interested to see future work from this author. I received an advance review copy of this book via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Mavis Ros.
483 reviews13 followers
October 25, 2018
Surprised Thriller of the Year.

The Wren Hunt is the type of book that you would not want to read by so quickly. I highly doubt that this is a book that everyone would love and enjoy. Considering that it can easily be “dnfed” if readers can’t survive within the first hundred pages of its info dump.
Profile Image for Amy.
568 reviews
March 28, 2018
My blog: A Magical World Of Words

4.5 stars.

(Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Wow. Wow. Wow. In all my life I have never read a book like this one. To say it's left an impression on me is an understatement. I just can't stop thinking about it.
Please, please read it.


The writing is exceptional. It's literal magic - raw talent running with dark imagination. Watson is an incredible writer, and I can't get enough of her stunning, tangible prose that bubbles and snakes with atmosphere, passion, intelligence, and pure skill. It's beautiful in the way twisty, elusive secrets are beautiful.

The story is so creepy. It is also extremely unique, and the atmosphere is deliciously dark. It's immersive and vivid, with the atmosphere a character itself. It's breathtaking.
The plot is clever and constantly compelling. The twists are chilling, the pacing perfect. It sucks you in and grips you in cold hands. I love how twisty the story is and how seamlessly those twists are revealed. It's absolutely genius.

But the world is confusing. The magic system and its terminology are everywhere, but I was honestly lost for most of it. It's just so unique and bizarre, and you're left guessing and imagining the answers for yourself because it's never directly explained. However, this aspect didn't actually both me all that much. Because I was loving the story, the writing, and the characters so much, I kinda didn't mind that the world was bizarre and bewildering. It was something for which I could just "suspend disbelief". It's evasive, but it works.


There would be consequences, I knew that. There were always consequences, usually teeny tiny consequences that you hardly noticed. But the small things added up over time, until eventually they formed one big thing that could crush you beneath its weight.

We were always told: when something repeats, it gains significance. This is how a pattern is formed. And it felt like something was forming around me. Like I was being woven into something and couldn't work my way out.



The characters are extraordinary. I love Wren's female friendships with Aisling and Sibeal, and her dynamics with Smith (her grandfather) and Maeve (who acts in her mother's place). I also adore the romance and how it's such a tantalising slow-burn; Tarc and Wren's relationship is magnificent, and the development is excellent. It's gorgeous.

The characters are all so fascinating and layered. They're elusive, three-dimensional, and unpredictable. Their arcs are fascinating, their agendas shocking. Wren's a wonderful heroine, but she's made by a strong secondary cast. They're all so incredible.




The Wren Hunt is a captivating debut that will suck you into a dark, dangerous world and leave you breathless. With fascinating characters, spellbinding writing, and an irresistibly twisty and unique plot, this book will haunt you in the best way.
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