Book review by Cherry Hughes, BSA Education Officer.
This is a contemporary fantasy novel for young adults with very subtle allusions to the Grimms’ classic tale.
The experienced writer also stammers and realistically depicts the stammer and its effects on the lead character. John is a 13-year-old living in the UK with his grandfather who teaches him folklore and ancient languages in ways that cue into the boy’s own deepest feelings, for reasons that we later discover. John seems to be a tortured soul both by day and night: scarred in a car crash in which he believes both his parents were killed, he is bullied at school mainly by Casper, both for his appearance and his stammering. His feelings of isolation and loneliness are vividly described. Unhappy in the day, John’s dreams are haunted by the presence of a white wolf whose role in John’s life is later revealed through many terrifying adventures.
John is fortunate in making a friend of Fyre King, an albino girl whose appearance has also been mocked and the bully, Casper, is jealous of the mutually beneficial relationship that develops between them. The lives of the three of them are inextricably linked as events develop. The author sensitively illuminates how John and Fyre King develop feelings for each other as they become involved in the reality of facing together the danger that the white wolf actually presents in real life. Now that John’s nightmares have become reality, as the white wolf is making its attacks, he and Fyre King are faced with the task of putting an end to its bloodthirsty reign. The novel moves at that point from the character-driven narrative into the all-out action of the pursuit of the wolf with many graphic scenes of action and violence, with unforgettable villains like the Kitten Tapper and his son.
The writing throughout is atmospheric and descriptive and the plot compelling within a framework of myth and fantasy. The novel should be enjoyed by readers who enjoy that genre.
This book is available to borrow in the BSA members library.