Wildness, wind, wolves and wonder in Katharine Rundell’s magnificent The Wolf Wilder

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, children's books, Writing

Feodora is training under her mother to be a Wolf Wilder, teaching ex-pet wolves who have been spoiled and discarded from the houses of the rich to howl, hunt and hate humans. But a power-mad General in the army doesn’t like it. He captures Feodora’s mother, and Feodora is left determined to release her mother from St Petersburg – along with three wolves, a deserting teenage soldier and a host of other colourful characters.

This book was just wonderful. Reminiscent of Joan Aiken’s kids adventure books (not just because of the wolves), packed with snow and wolves and heroism and fear and baddies, secrets and schemes as well as loveable main characters. I thoroughly enjoyed my foray into this world!

With a Russian setting, wolves and snow, this book was always going to appeal to me. I’m fascinated by the history and culture of Russia, and with literature being my favourite way to find out about anything (even if it’s a kids book…) this seemed perfect.With bitter, ice cold, forests full of trees, a General with seemingly no one to stop his sadism, and Russian people ready to revolt it was just the best setting for an adventure.

Feodora is a fantastic main character. She is fierce and determined and independent – but not so much as to be completely annoying. She enjoys being able to make her first human friends, but still retains a certain wolfishness that means you don’t forget where she came from.

The very idea of a wolf-wilder is pretty exciting to start with. And it was wonderfully realised. Perhaps the only problem I had was that Feo had friends that were wolves, when presumably she was meant to make them totally wild. But presumably those wolves were on a journey to wildness!

The portrait of Feo’s home, lost at the beginning of the book, was marvellous too. Her mother featured significantly; again a wonderful character; a brilliant mix of strength, fearlessness, kindness and beauty.

There was, too, an innocence and enjoyment in just a great adventure story that was charming. I’ll certainly be looking to read more of Rundell’s books!

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