Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Walk the Wild with Me by Rachel Atwood
Published by DAW Books on December 3, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Orphaned when still a toddler, Nicholas Withybeck knows no other home than Locksley Abbey outside Nottingham, England. He works in the Scriptorium embellishing illuminated manuscripts with hidden faces of the Wild Folk and whimsical creatures that he sees every time he ventures into the woods and fields. His curiosity leads him into forbidden nooks and crannies inside, and outside the abbey. He becomes adept at hiding to stay out of trouble.
On one of these forays he slips into the crypt beneath the abbey. There he finds an altar older than the abbey’s foundations, ancient when the Romans occupied England. Behind the bricks around the altar, he finds a palm-sized silver cup. The cup is embellished with the three figures of Elena, the Celtic goddess of crossroads, sorcery, and cemeteries.
He carries the cup with him always. The goddess whispers wisdom in the back of his mind. With Elena in his pocket, Nick can see that the masked dancers on the May Day celebration in the local village are the actual creatures of the wood, The Green Man, Robin Goodfellow, Herne the Huntsman, dryads, trolls, and water sprites, the imaginary faces he’s seen and drawn into the Illuminations.
Over the course of several adventures where Elena guides Nick and keeps him safe, he learns that Little John’s (the Green Man) love has been kidnapped by Queen Mab of the Faeries. The door to the Faery mound will only open when the moons of the two realms align. The time is fast approaching. Nick must release Elena so that she can use sorcery to unlock that door and Nick’s band of friends can try to rescue the girl. Will he have the courage to release her as his predecessor did not?
Walk the Wild with Me is one of my older ARCs. I don’t remember what happened exactly but I had a lot happening in my life and didn’t get to it. I’d say it is kind of a mash up of Robin Hood and Celtic fae folk. It is set in the “Robin Hood” time frame with King John and the Sheriff making life miserable for many and not respecting the religious folk. The most learned priests and sisters have been banished.
Our main point of view is Nick, who as a toddler was the sole survivor on marauders who murdered his family. He was found by the head Abbot and taken to the Abbey. He along with his two friends Dom and Henry, are the older boys now. The Abbot has been banished but he stayed with the wood folk and is now known as Tuck.
Dom’s twin sister, Hilde is in a convent and is not happy there. Dom wants to get her free. Little John is trying to get back his love, Jane who was captured and enslaved by Queen Mab. Robin Hood is cursed and also pines for a lost love. The story is full of women in bad situations that Nick, Dom, Tuck, Robin and Little John are trying to help. There are also ordinary people, who need help and are hungry.
Nick turns out to have some fae blood, so he can see more than most. He is almost at a point where he will have to decide if he will take vows and serve the Abbey or go out into the world. In protecting Hilde, he becomes attached to her. The story ends with no final decisions made by Nick, staying in the Abbey for now. There are several storylines left open and I see now there will be a follow up book in January 2022, Outcasts of the Wildwood to move forward with Robin’s story.
The reviews were medium for Walk the Wild with Me so I was worried about starting to read. I seem to be having trouble starting everything at this time. But once I get reading, it’s all fine. I enjoyed this more than I expected. As with any first book, there is world building about the politics, the magics, and the characters, which can be too much. The reveal here was comfortable but there is still some character development and much more to know about the magic in this world.
A print ARC, new and unread, of Walk the Wild with Me by Rachel Atwood. US only
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