Monday, May 24, 2021

Review: For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

 For the Wolf (Wilderwood, #1)

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
Orbit Books
Publication Date: June 1st, 2021
Paperback. 448 pages.
About For the Wolf:

"As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he'll return the world's captured gods.
Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can't control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can't hurt those she loves. Again.
But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn't learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole."

For the Wolf is a beautifully written story centered around two sisters destined for two very different paths. This book didn't quite live up to what I expected, but it was still a great story with wonderful prose, a compelling storyline, and a strong emotional punch. Just a head's up that there are a few content warnings which the author has listed here.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the forest, which was easily a character in itself. Whitten did such a great job of instilling this forest with a strong atmospheric presence and making it a captivating component of the plot. The trees are rather aggressive at times, and the sense that they are very much alive and watching was always present, which really added to the entire setting and increased the stakes whenever one of the characters was venturing throughout the woods.
As much as I enjoyed Whitten's writing, the atmosphere, and the creepy forest, I didn't particularly care for any of the characters. I personally found Red to be slightly annoying, especially with her continual flouting of the rules put in place by the Wolf to keep both her and others safe. Characters like this are one of the reasons I tend to get annoyed with certain fantasy, especially YA, and I was a bit disappointed to see it here. I understand she was supposed to be stubborn and always trying to help, but it was a bit overdone for my personal taste. I also felt that although her relationship with her sister was sweet, there was something that didn't quite work for me. i think I mainly wish I had gotten to see more of her positive interactions with her sister, even if that had to be done via more flashbacks or memories. 
Then there's the Wolf, who I probably liked the most out of all the characters. However, I also felt like his personality and role were ones that I've read many times before. This isn't bad, and it wouldn't matter if I hadn't read so many other books, but since I have seen this type of character pop up before, it just felt a bit derivative.  (Also, just as a side note, when I first started this book I hadn't seen the synopsis that stated that "The Wolf is a man, not a monster," so I just have to say that once I again I feel like I got monster/animal-baited (looking at you, Uprooted), so do not be misguided and hope that there is an actual wolf in this book, as there is not. [This is not a critique, just a silly minor disappointment on my part.]) The supporting characters living at the mansion in the forest were good additions, but nothing about their personalities really stood out to me. I did, however, enjoy their specific roles and learning about their backstories and how they came to be a part of the woods, I felt this helped to add to the background of the world and how other people were affected by the forest and curse.

I really wanted to love this book more, but there was something that didn't quite connect for me with this book. The world-building was beautifully described, but at the same time it felt a bit lacking and everything almost felt as though it were happening in a bit of a bubble. Also, this is entirely personal, but the depression/anxiety rep didn't really resonate with my own experiences as much as I'd hoped, which is also probably why I might not have connected with this book as much as I'd thought I might. I absolutely still think it will connect more with others, though.
Overall, I've given For the Wolf 3.75 stars. This is a really solid fantasy with a beautiful writing and an exciting plot. It was the most original thing I've read, but I wouldn't let that stop you from picking it up if you find yourself interested in the synopsis. Creepy forests, unexplained magic, and more abound!
 *I received a copy of For the Wolf courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | IndieBound

1 comment:

  1. I'll be reading this in June and I'm curious to see how I feel about it. I thought the main male character was a wolf too!