The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (out on Wednesday!)

wolfwilder
Title: The Wolf Wilder
Author: Katherine Rundell
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 256 pages
Publication Details: September 9th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s
Genre(s): Children’s Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.

When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.

Review

From appearance alone, The Wolf Wilder is everything I want in a book. The Wintery setting, a pack of wolves, revolution, and adventure…like, seriously everything, so I was pretty eager to start this.

But I’m sad to say it wasn’t quite everything I imagined.

It’s a really adorable story about Feo, who along with her mother is a Wolf Wilder out in the snowy wilderness of Russia. Wolf Wilders are almost like people of folklore, it is in their nature to help discarded domesticated wolves to revert back to their true nature, wild.

There was definitely a lot to like about this book. The setting was beautiful, and the writing matched it perfectly. It was also a really quick read, which is nice, but it just wasn’t very exciting.

If it wasn’t for the pretty setting and beautiful way Rundell has with words, I would have been truly bored. Such a shame! I also didn’t really get the whole Wolf Wilder thing. For one, the book wasn’t really about that at all, and secondly, Feo obviously wasn’t that great at it because her pack of wolves were tame to point where she and her new friend Illya (who has no experience with wolves) can even ride them.

And I guess that was my main problem with this book – it just wasn’t believable in the slightest. I’d love to believe a 12 year old girl could start a revolution because the Tsar asked her to shoot her wolves, and that the Tsar would then become obsessed on finding her, this little girl. Bit weird.

However, I did like the whimsical nature of The Wolf Wilder, and how strong Feo was as a protagonist; I think young girls will love her and she’s definitely a good character to look up to.

It might work for the age-group it’s aimed at, but for cynical adults like me (apparently) the plot was just too far fetched. This book tries to give a real, important voice to children though, which I found wonderful.

I’d love to see the illustrations as well, as they weren’t included in the advance copy – I’m sure they will make the book even more beautiful than it already is.

unicorn rating 3

Blood Red, White Snow by Marcus Sedgwick

bloodredsnow
Title: Blood Red, Snow White
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 304 pages
Publication Details: July 6th 2007 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre(s): YA; Historical Fiction; Fairy-Tales
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora, thanks Dora!

Goodreads // Purchase


It is 1917, and the world is tearing itself to pieces in a dreadful war, but far to the east of the trenches, another battle is breaking out – the Russian Revolution has just begun…

Blood Red, Snow White captures the mood of this huge moment in history through the adventure of one man who was in the middle of it all; Arthur Ransome, a young British journalist who had first run away to Russia to collect fairy tales.

Review


Only Marcus Sedgwick could successfully write a spy-thriller-cum-fairy-tale-cum-love story written in the Russian Revolution. I mean seriously, I don’t know how he does it.

It’s no secret that I love Sedgwick. I’m currently trying to work my way through his books that I’ve missed and Blood Red, Snow White was at the top of my agenda.

The book is told in three parts, all of which are written beautifully yet different in styles. The first, is written as a fairy-tale and depicts the early days of the revolution, using a great bear as a metaphor for Russia.

The second, is based on the real life of Arthur Ransome, a writer who went to Russia to learn more about Russian fairy-tales but who ended up working as a journalist and getting unwittingly involved in the surrounding war, and seen as a potential spy. Here, the lyrical fairy-tale style of writing gives way to a more suspenseful spy-thriller.

In the final part, Ransome falls in love with Evgenia, Trotsky’s secretary, which presents all kinds of problems, not to mention his estranged wife and daughter at home. This part of the book raises more questions as to where Ransome’s allegiances lie. Should he choose the woman he loves, and turn his back on his own country? Or should he use his position to try and keep the peace?

I’m so glad I loved this book, because I was pretty dubious about how a book could be all of these things. But it is, and the way Sedgwick adapts his writing to the different parts is what makes it a success. I’m also glad because I don’t always find historical fiction that exciting, but mix in a fairy-tale and bam! So good!

I thought Blood Red, Snow White was such a clever book; using a relatively unknown historical figure who wrote fairy-tales, and turning his life into a fairy-tale itself is a genius idea, and Marcus Sedgwick pulls it off so well.

unicorn rating