I'm currently behind on reviews, so don't be surprised if the recent reviews are a bit sparse.


Cover of Wolfish.

Middle grade, close to YA. Told as a mix of a fairytale, a straightforward story, and notes found by archivists in a later age (which was nicely done, and I’d have loved that as a kid!). A sweet story with everything a fairytale needs: Prophecies, evil kings, worse advisors, children growing up, loving parents (or step-parents), weird non-human magic that can transform people into wolves, and a bond between twins. Bravery and goodness and songs and much more. Sweet and enjoyable. Three stars because I find that middle-grade books just aren’t great for me anymore, but it’s a really good book โ€“ I was particularly surprised by the adoptive father of the protagonist having a stoke, and the consequences being shown empathetically but clearly.

Plot summary

Beware: full spoilers! Also probably incomplete and possibly incomprehensible.

An evil king starts as a boy, far from the next in line for the throne, but all other candidates are killed by his advisor. On his way to get crowned, he visits an oracle. The oracle’s apprentice, Alba, who usually chooses to say kind words rather than the things she sees, is overcome and prophecies a brutish rule and a violent end, brought about by a sibling. His mother is pregnant, and made cruel by this prophecy, he orders the children (twins) to be brought to the wilderness.

Alba learns to read sneakily with the help of a novice priest โ€“ the priests guard the oracle and keep notes and generally are the evil bureaucracy. She learns to read from the messages the priests receive and send, so she learns a lot about the kingdom. She keeps scrying to find out what happened to the king. (He continues to feel empty and be brutal.)

The twins are left for dead. One is rescued by a wolf, one by a shepherd. Wolf boy is stitched together with the runt of a litter, and becomes dormant inside the wolf body. Human girl is brought up lovingly with songs and work and sheep by the old couple. The king returns to Alba and finds out that the children are alive. He starts hunting for them, Herodes-style. Alba flees in order to protect them, and manages to take the fall for the human girl when she’s nearly caught by the guards (though her adoptive father suffers a stroke).

Human girl befriends wolf boy, because the two still feel drawn to each other. When soldiers come and find her, she decides to run towards the capital, and wolf boy follows. They get imprisoned where Alba and many other children are already imprisoned. Alba manages to make up a prophecy that anybody who kills them will be cursed, so they just leave her with the hungry wolf in the hopes that he’ll kill her. Finally, things escalate, the boy is returned to humanity, the king’s cruelty is instead transformed into a void monster, kills the advisor and flees (what’s left of his soul becomes a frog and is happy in the castle pond). Alba is selected as interim ruler because she’s wise and knowledgeable.