Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Wolf Hour

The Wolf Hour. Sara Lewis Holmes. 2017. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a time there was a Wolf. When he wasn't anymore, there was another one. And another one. How could this be? A Wolf without end? Welcome, my little lambs, to the Puszcza, where even wolves must live and die by the rules. It's an ancient forest, a keeper of the deepest magic, and there, fairy tales of the darkest kind are real. Some even call them spells, for if you're unlucky enough to be caught in one of them, you must play your part, all the way to the bitter end.

Premise/plot: WOW what a book. Can I leave it at that? No?! Are you sure?! Okay, I'll do my best. Magia is the heroine of this one. She's a girl who wants to be a woodcutter just like her father. She wants a red cap of her own to protect her in the Puszcza. She longs to enter--safely--the wild woods that call to her. But her father and mother have different ideas of what she should do. Her mother wants her to SING. And Magia's voice is something beautiful, something brilliant. But that's her mother's dream, not her own. It is in obeying her mother that she goes to visit Miss Grand in town for a music lesson. And it is what happens at that music lesson that changes everything. For she sets Miss Grand's metronome--a pig--to doing a jig and it BREAKS. Soon after that, her mother gives birth and EVERYTHING seems broken in her family after the baby dies. Everyone wants to find a solution--but some solutions are COSTLY.

Magia is NOT the only hero of the book. There is also MARTIN, a book-loving wolf. His mother is unable to protect him, though his memories of being loved continue to give him strength and courage in his darkest hours. And dark hours there are plenty of in the Puszcza. Their stories are intertwined--for better or worse. Can a wolf get a happy ending?

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. It was MAGIC, pure magic. I loved it cover to cover. The way it was written, the narrative style, the storytelling. It was a thing of beauty. It begs to be read again and again and again and again. It is one of those rare books where you could open it up to almost any page and be sucked into the story. Every page--nearly--has some sentence worth quoting.

This is how she introduces Martin to readers:
You see, my little lambs? As promised, a Wolf's tale and a Girl's. Both laid upon the table, juicy and fresh. Dinner is served! Alas. There is a troubling smell in the air. If you don't scent it, ask yourself this question: Is a Story truly like a meal? Can we eat it in any order we please? Of course not. A Story, no matter who makes it, isn't a series of events plopped hodgepodge on the dinner plate. No, those events must be arranged in the right order. Served in courses, if you will. (79)
This is how Martin's mother warns him of the dangers of the woods:
"A story is like a spider," his mother said. "it throws out one gauzy strand, and then another. You're intrigued. You watch as a pattern develops. Ooh! So pretty!" She nudged her son sharply. "Then you're stuck. You struggle, but you cannot get out. It's a trap!" (84) 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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