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.
After reading and loving Down Comes The Night, I was incredibly eager to read Allison’s next book. Even when I didn’t really know anything about, I knew I wanted to read it. When I found out that it was about a hunt for a mythical fox, and that it would have more yearning and more pining, I just wanted to read it more and more. It sounded amazing, and the cover is gorgeous! Trigger warnings: animal death, antisemitism, nationalism, xenophobia, PTSD, neglect, grief, blood
Just, oh my gosh, Allison Saft is such an incredible writer.
I’m going to start off with the writing because, dang, it is just downright gorgeous. The way she is able to capture imagery, emotions, atmosphere, the way she is able to weave words, is amazing. It’s breathtaking, and the way that the story comes together because of it sort of makes you want to shake your head and just go “wow”, because it leaves you with that feeling, the feeling that is basically “oh my gosh”.
This book has magic on its surface, but it’s the magic that’s deeper, the kind that reveals itself as the curtain, the layers, are peeled, that are the most stunning. It’s a kind of magic that slides around the edges until it pools in the center, glittery and stunning. It’s the kind of magic that is evoked through the characters, through what they feel, through what they do, and it’s so amazing.
Love is at the core of this book, and where the more subtle kind of magic comes from. Love not just in the romantic sense, but in a familial way, in friendships. It’s the craving for it, the desperation to hold onto the scraps that are available to survive. It shows love that is fractured, love that builds, love that hurts, and love that shines.
And while romantic love is not all this book is about, THERE’S A LOT OF REALLY GREAT ROMANTIC LOVE. Seriously, if you thought Down Comes The Night had yearning, oh my gosh, there is so much yearning and pining in this book. And it’s fantastic because it’s the kind of yearning that neither Margaret or Wes want to admit too. They’re both stubborn, and they both have their own struggles to deal with. But oh, they snark at each other, there’s longing glances, there’s thoughts lingering of the other everywhere. And there’s hugs! Allison writes the best hugs, and I always want more hugs in YA, and this book has some amazing hugs.
The atmosphere of this book was incredibly strong as well. It feels like grass swaying in the breeze, the crackle of leaves over a forest floor, the sting of salt water over chapped lips. It’s biting in a way, but it’s also gorgeous as well.
This book also has a Jewish main character, and explores religion throughout. It’s a core theme. I can’t comment on it other than the fact that it was there, but I did want to mention it. It discusses the hatred that some people harbor, and the cruelty they can enact, and the identities that Margaret and Wes try to grapple with.
There is also alchemy, and there is such a terrifying air to it. It gets downright disturbing at times, but it is so, so well done. I also loved the hunt of the hala. I loved Wes and Margaret planning and gearing up for the hunt, them training and getting everything ready. It ties into the atmosphere and the writing and the love and there is a lot of glkhjlkfgk for me haha.
There is also a dog! His name is Trouble. And there is a horse! His name is Shimmer. I love them both a whole lot.
There is also casually queer characters, which is fantastic, and a character who I think has dyslexia.
All in all, I adored this book a whole lot. It was gorgeously written, and I fell completely in love with the characters. I loved the love in it. I love it so, so much.