by Allison Saft
Publication: March 8, 2022
**Apologies for a long review. Consider the bolded lines for a quick summary of the review.**
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Allison Saft’s writing is beautiful and descriptive. It creates a gothic atmosphere, especially the descriptions of Welty Manor. The tone is dark and morose. It evokes sympathy for the main characters and the difficult lives they lead, and, just as importantly, it helps maintain this sympathy throughout the book.
Margaret, in particular, lives a solitary life. As her family’s story is slowly unraveled, I couldn’t help but ache for her. She clings to the hope that her mother will return. The longing she had to be loved by her mother made me want to enfold her in a hug, to let her know she was enough. Her mother’s absence plays a formidable role in the choices she makes and the life she leads. Her lonely existence is interrupted when Wes arrives at her doorsteps, seeking to become her mother’s apprentice. It is the jolt she needs to gradually recognize the impact her mom has had on her.
Wes was not my favorite romantic lead. I was often as irritated with him as Margaret was; however, like Margaret, I gradually warmed to him. He arrives at Welty Manor because Margaret’s mother is his last chance to pursue his goal of being an alchemist. His reasons for becoming one are admirable, and I was rooting for him. Like Margaret, he has a complicated relationship with his family, and they have greatly impacted his decisions.
I understood why Margaret and Wes gradually gravitated toward each other. They are similar in ways and have faced similar struggles. They also challenge one another, and this was extremely conducive to building romantic tension. Even though I wasn’t a huge Wes fan, I did want them to get together. (What did you expect? I am a hopeless romantic after all.)
Just as I hoped for romance, I equally hoped for fantastical and magical elements. Both were lacking, and I was disappointed. I liked the doses I got, but it wasn’t enough. Additionally, the legend of the hala fascinated me, but I didn’t quite understand the role of the hala and its greater purpose in the story. What did it mean that Margaret was willing to participate in the hunt? (I have thoughts on this…) What was its significance? Was there something I was missing? I felt out of the loop at times when it came to this.
Adding to my disappointment was the pace of the book. Despite the beautiful descriptions and the romance, the slow pace made this a difficult book to finish. It felt a lot longer than its 384 pages. I constantly took breaks and jumped into other books before I finally forced myself to sit down and finish it. The slow pace hindered my overall enjoyment of the novel.
Because I enjoyed Saft’s Down Comes the Night, I looked forward to A Far Wilder Magic. While it was beautifully written and just as atmospheric as the first novel, the slow pacing diminished the pleasure I derived from those aspects I did like. A Far Wilder Magic was a book I wanted to like. After bouncing back and forth between a rating of 3 stars or 3.5 stars, I decided to round down. While there may have been many things I liked about it, the slow pace made a lasting impression.