Book Review: The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

reviewEvery year on St Stephen’s Day, the boys of Killshamble don their masks to chase Wren through the village and surrounding areas. It is supposed to be a childish game, one that takes place in villages all over the country, but none of these hunts are quite like the one Wren has to endure. There is something different about Wren:

“It struck me as odd that I’d never seen a real wren hunt, except on TV, and there the masked wren boys parading the streets with the plastic bird made it look like such a merry, rousing thing. Not like this this secret hunt that none of the villagers seemed to notice.”

Wren is an Augur: one of a group of people in the village with a special talent. Wren’s is apophenia. She can perceive patterns in random things and sometimes she can see the future. David, one of the boys who chases her, is a Judge. Wren knows this is why David feels such intense hatred towards her, but he doesn’t: he doesn’t know that she is an Augur, a sworn enemy of the Judges. David and Wren are complete opposites:

“I was the Capulet to his Montague, the hot to his cold, the white queen to his black knight. I was the oil to his water, the bleach to his ammonia, the salt to his wound.”

Their animosity is one that is ingrained into the history of their people. Both the Judges and the Augur draw their power from Nameta. Whoever controls the Nameta has the power, and right now they are all in the hands of the Judges. One of the Augur leaders has hatched a plan, they want Wren to infiltrate the Judges, get close to Cassa Harkness (the leader) and steal a map from her that will show where the Nameta are being held. Wren isn’t given a lot of choice in this, and I felt awful for her that they put her in such a difficult position.

“I plastered a smile on my face, but inside I was angry and confused. Hurt. They had me do this big complicated thing and then brought out cake and sparkling wine like it was my birthday.”

Wren swears to do her best, but the more time she spends with the Judges, the less sure she is that the Augur’s actions are the right ones. She starts to fall for Tarc, but also starts to doubt his motives. She feels as though she cannot trust anyone any more. Despite her role there, she finds herself fascinated by Cassa and wanting to please her.

Then she finds out about a very important ritual that is going to change her life forever, but which side will Wren choose?

This book had so many mysteries and twists, and I loved not being able to guess what was coming next. The way it ended blew me away. The Wren Hunt is a beautifully dark and atmospheric read, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in folk tales.



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