This week’s review is of Darling, there are wolves in the woods by L.V. Russell. Better grab a cup of tea and a comfy chair, this review is going to be a long one.
The exterior design of the new edition is breathtaking. I love the colors, the sense of motion, and just the beautiful little details. The only is fun and themed, but easily legible with good contrast from the background. I don’t have a single thing I can nitpick about this cover. In fact, I already had two copies of the old edition (long story, short: I’m bad at Amazon) and I had to buy a copy of the new edition for the cover alone. 5 teaspoons, easy.
The interior design is lovely. The cute little design at the beginning of each chapter is whimsical and fits the theme of the book. I didn’t notice any formatting issues whatsoever. In additional to being functional, the interior is pleasant to look at. 5 teaspoons.
Design overall is 5 teaspoons.
I do want to give a note about the previous edition. The art from the old cover is enchanting in its own was, although it lacks the polish of the new cover. The font is the same, but the letters have a 3D effect applied that I really don’t think was necessary. The interior is serviceable, but lacks the charm and whimsy of the new edition. Different spacing results in a larger overall thicker paperback. I probably would have given the design a low 4.
The premise of this book draws on the old folktales of people kidnapped by the fey. Specifically, it seems to have been inspire by Scottish folklore and the Seelie and Unseelie courts. Teya is merely a child when her sister is taken, and haunted by guilt as her family falls apart. Eventually, this guilt forces Teya back into the terrifying woods to seek out her sister and attempt to repair some of the damage she believes herself responsible for. From there Teya has various dealings with a wide variety of terrifying fey creatures.
This is not a particularly original premise. I can immediately think of another book that operates along a similar theme. Of Goblins and Gold by Emma Hamm involves a sister going into the faerie realm to rescue her sister who was apparently abducted by goblins (there’s a clear inspiration of The Goblin Market).
I don’t generally do direct comparisons in my reviews. I really enjoyed Of Goblins and Gold immensely and plan to read the sequel. If it hadn’t been on pre-order I probably would have purchased it immediately after finishing the first book simply because Kindle makes that easy. I didn’t, however, feel the same drive to run out and buy the paperback the way I did for Hush, the woods are darker still.
Now, I’m not saying that these books are interchangeable in any way, shape or form. Simply that they build off of a very similar theme/trope. Each author builds out her world of faerie very differently (I would say Russell’s fey are more malicious overall, while many of Hamm’s are merely misunderstood).
Anyway, all this is to say that the premise is a strong one that has sparked many wonderful books and Russell takes it in a direction that is all her own while weaving in additional elements of survivor’s guilt, mental health, and fairytales. I give the premise a solid 4 teaspoons.
A thought that crossed my mind frequently when reading the book was “damn, these two are toxic.” But to be fair, when you’re dealing with a relationship that involves the fey that is often going to be the case. I thought that a lot while reading Wendy, Darling as well. So while I would not hold Teya and Laphaniel up as a glowing example of what true love should look like for 90% of the book, their tempestuous relationship did make for entertaining reading.
There were times Teya’s action didn’t make sense/felt slightly out of character. The reason for this was explained and made perfect sense. However, I could see this frustrating some readers.
All in all, I give characters 4 teaspoons.
I really enjoyed the worldbuilding of Darling, there are wolves in the woods. Russell’s version of faerie felt distinct. Most of the worldbuilding was shown off through the characters and creatures that Teya met along the way. The market and the witches, for example, were a gorgeous (and yet vile) bit of worldbuilding. The world felt full and rich, with a history. It also felt like Teya and the reader have only explored a very small corner of it. 5 teaspoons for worldbuilding.
It seemed like the hits just kept coming through most of the book. Teya had a long, stressful journey with plenty of twists and turns. If I had any complaints about the plot, it would be that some of the end seems just a little bit too convenient. I give plot 4 teaspoons.
Russell’s writing is enchanting. The descriptions of the fey creatures could be beautiful paintings in the mind, or invoke every nightmare you had as a small child. I found her style easy to read and engrossing. 5 teaspoons.
This was one of those books that sucked me in and didn’t let me go. Once Teya’s adventure really began I was hooked. My intent was only to read the prologue through chapter 7 for the May read-along on Instagram, but that went out the window pretty much immediately. I devoured the entire book in less than 48 hours and immediately went onto Amazon to order the sequel.
If you were to average out my ratings, the book would probably get a 4.5 or something like that. However, I have to give it a 5 teaspoons on the pure enjoyment factor. I really, truly enjoyed this book.