|From The British Library|
In pre-revolutionary Russia, the pampered aristocrats often keep wolves as pets. But wolves are not happy to sit on velvet cushions in gilded rooms their whole lives long and eventually they snap, and a pampered aristocrat, or a servant, loses a finger or a toe. The aristocracy believe that if you kill a wolf, you will be cursed, so the wolves are sent away to the wolf wilder, who will teach them how to survive in the wild – how to hunt and howl and be as fierce as they should be. The wolf wilder is Feo’s mother, and she has been teaching Feo everything she knows.
Trouble arrives one night in the form of the Russian army, who are not happy to have wolves released in the forests nearby, where they hunt and kill elks and birds. Feo and her mother are ordered to shoot the wolves or be arrested. But Feo has grown up tough and strong and brave – after all, wolves are her only friends – and she is determined not to give in.
This was such a lovely book! Full of charm and adventure and very real peril. I loved the idea of wolf wilders, the opposite of animal tamers. It’s a concept that is both cute and scary, much like the book itself. The wolves are realistically unpredictable, sometimes they help Feo, sometimes they create more trouble.
I also loved the other human characters. Feo’s mother was fascinating and I wish she had been in the book more. Rakov is a terrifyingly heartless villain, keeping the stakes high. The friends Feo makes while on her journey are so wonderful I can’t bear to describe them – I think you should get all the fun of meeting them with a fresh mind. The descriptions of Feo’s environment are wonderful too – I could easily imagine Feo’s warm and much-loved home, and the harsh, snow-filled world outside.
I would very much recommend The Wolf Wilder to readers who want to lose themselves in a story that blends history and fairytale.