Review of Wolfish

Wolfish Wolfish
by Christiane M. Andrews
Intermediate, Middle School    Little, Brown    416 pp.
11/22    9780316496063    $16.99
e-book ed.  9780316496070    $9.99

A boy, born eleventh in line to the crown, finds himself to be first after a series of mysterious and unlikely accidents—and then he becomes king. Alba, an oracle’s apprentice, is stricken by the way her harsh predictions affect that gormless boy king. And Rae, a shepherd couple’s foundling daughter, grows up happily in the high wilds of the mountains, wondering why she feels a strong connection to a nearby wolf. Focusing on these three characters, Andrews’s narrator weaves a fable-like story of betrayal and love, revenge and destiny, in sure, poetic prose. “Mountain-found,” “wind-cold,” “empty-bellied,” a hand as “soft as plum blossoms”—every word draws us into a tactile, living world, one in which insects, worms, grubs, and beetles are as vital as a huge wolf, a royal advisor, and even the act of writing. With a magical Romulus-and-Remus theme and some fairy-tale features, this leisurely tale is richly atmospheric and nicely surprising. Chapter-opening framed decorations (akin to medieval illuminations) by Yuta Onoda make the book an attractive object in itself and suit Andrews’s writing perfectly—­delicate and earthy at once, both realistic and magical.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Deirdre Baker
Deirdre F. Baker
Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the past tense.

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