*Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. This in no way affects my opinion.
Following on from The Wren Hunt, The Wickerlight takes on a slightly different cast of characters, this time following David – one of the antagonists of The Wren Hunt – and Zara, a new character. Zara and her family move to Kilshamble in hopes of a new start, but merely 10 months into the move, Zara’s sister – Laila – is found dead. Weird thing is, there’s no apparent cause of death. By all tests and records, Laila was in perfect health…but she’s not. With no cause of death to be found, Zara starts digging, and the mystery soon turns a lot darker when she discovers Laila’s involvement with the local folklore…
So this book threw me right back in with the shock factor. Right from the prologue, you’re forced to change the mindset built up in The Wren Hunt. Not much can be said without giving spoilers for the first book, but if you’ve read The Wren Hunt then you might suspect what I mean. Even so, it goes so much further beyond that. While this world is familiar and the majority of the characters are recognised, this book feels almost like unstable territory. You enter this book right in the throes of a mysterious death, and that uncertainty can really be felt.
With such a death so early in the plot, I feel like this book is tinged with sadness. While The Wren Hunt is dark through and through, this book has the offset of grief. And one thing I really appreciated was how well Mary Watson writes grief. Having experienced grief and loss myself, I feel like Watson really captures the overwhelming and persisting nature of it. The way it’s always there, at the forefront of everyday life. The way it changes everyday and hits with entirely new force each time. And while this is something that can’t be ignored, it doesn’t dampen the book in a weighed-down kind of way. It’s there – it’s very much there. It doesn’t conveniently become forgotten about when more interesting things arise. And for that, I’m glad.
An interesting change made was the perspectives. Not only do we follow one new perspective…we follow two, the perspective switch not being something that happened before. I was hesitant, and had to wonder why. I think it worked though. I didn’t get quite as invested with the narrators Zara and David as I did with Wren, but that could be down to two things. One, I feel like Wren’s reactions were similar to my own and so I connected to her story easier. Two, as I said, the perspective is split between two people, and so less time is spent with each character in comparison. While this may have been a slight downfall, I also don’t think either of the characters’ stories would have merited a full book. So where’s the compromise? I think for the change in characters, this really was the best situation and it worked well.
It was so so intriguing seeing how the plot unravelled. Not only is the mysterious death an element, but more and more questions arise on every page. The two stories of Zara and David become entwined with what we already know, creating this intricate web of folklore and history. The folklore inspirations are very much there, and learning about new kinds of magic was fascinating to me. Of course, I adored the tie between nature and magic (because when don’t I?), and once again I just found myself so caught up in this book.
Mary Watson is amazing at writing fantasy stories that feel both contemporary but folkloric in their ancient ways. The Wickerlight proved to be just as addictive as The Wren Hunt, and I already want more books from her.
Rated 4/5 stars
I have a reading vlog for The Wickerlight going up on Friday, so be sure to keep a look out for that!
Until next time,