Monday, November 15, 2021

For the Wolf - Hannah Whitten

Summary: As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he'll return the world's captured gods.
Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can't control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can't hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn't learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: Oh my, yall! This book was quite the deal! At first glance, it is an obvious homage to “Little Red Riding Hood.” I expected grandmas and a red cloak and maybe big eyes. There was none of that. Save for the red cloak and a “wolf” (not a wolf), this was definitely just a light and passing reference to that fairytale that we all know so well. That’s ok, though! I’ve said many times that I’m enjoying these new takes on fairytales that we’ve got going on in literature right now. If you love those too, check out our “Fairytales” link in the right-hand column of our website and it will load you many fairytales that you will enjoy to your heart’s content!

Many of the fairytale retellings I’ve read have been YA fiction. That is not the case here. This is an adult fiction book, and with that came older characters with more at stake, and some adult language and content. Clocking in at 430 pages, this is a hefty book. I worried that it would take forever, but it turned out that I was able to easily manage it within a few days. The story moves quickly, and it brings the reader in right away and keeps things going. For such a meaty book I expected to have to slog through at least some points, but I’m happy to report that the story never did drag, which is rare in a book this long.

The story itself is interesting and has a great place character in the forest. I love it when a place becomes a character. This forest is uber creepy, too, and takes on a mind of its own. Because of the isolated place of the story, there aren’t a lot of human characters, but there are plenty of other characters, which makes for a story environment that feels rich and full, even if it isn’t just made up of humans. The writing is descriptive and makes for an almost-visual experience while reading. Colors matter in this story, and I liked how Whitten was able to create such a tangible feeling in the environment of the story. This is definitely a book that engages the senses.

This is a complicated story with complicated characters. Although there were only a few characters that we engage with as a reader, there are characters from the past and indeed all realms that make this book interesting and provide for a lot of different themes. Because of its length I wouldn’t suggest it for a book club (my book club gets nervous if it goes about 300 pages), but if your book club is able to take on longer books, this will provide for some very good discussion. There are lots of topics to explore here including parental expectations, familial relationships, religion and mysticism in a culture, misjudgments of people, etc. It’s not a heavy book, like I said, and it’s an easy read, but its size alone can be intimidating.

Don’t be like me and keep waiting for the grandma. This story has evolved way beyond that to become its own story. I am excited that there is a sequel, but not so excited that it’s so far away. That’s what happens when you read new releases right away.

If you’ve enjoyed the new fairytale stories, or are even a lover of fantasy books, you should check this book out. There are strong female characters and male characters in this book, and I appreciate that there is strength to share.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language in this book and some sex scenes. It is not a YA book. The author posted a full content warning here on her website (which was awesome, so thank you, Hannah Whitten).

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