The Wolf’s Curse by: Jessica Vitalis

I cried when I finished this book. At it’s core, under the beautiful writing and the witty Wolf, is a story about grief. How it leads to anger. How the rituals we have are for ourselves because they help the living and how tenuous an understand children have of it. And how it feels to have a scapegoat for your grief when it’s just too much.

We follow Gauge, a boy of twelve winters, who is apprenticed to his grandfather, a carpenter. Gauge’s mother died, or, set sail, before he was old enough to have any memories of her. All he’s had is his grandpapa and, to his anger, a White Wolf.

The people of this port town have such an interesting social set up. Since their city runs on fish and the oceans, a lot of their dialogue and idioms are about water.

Setting Sail is passing away while being set to sea is to be killed. Literally put on a boat with no oars and set out into the ocean.

Gauge is the only person who can see the wolf making him a Voyant. Someone that the city believes calls the wolf and controls it to kill people.

While he can see the wolf, he cannot control her. He wishes she would leave him alone. Gauge blames her for the fact people hate him and fear him. After he saw the wolf for the first time when he was younger things went south. I can’t get into it without spoiling things and I don’t want to spoil any aspect of this story.

It’s a short read but that by no means makes it an easy one.

I don’t do well with grief and death. Reading this brought up memories and fears and trigger panic attacks for me. And that is absolutely not something that the book should have warned me about. It’s about grief, that’s pretty obvious and I as a reader took responsibility by reading it. And I’m glad I did.

We get so see a lot of growth from Gauge as he grows and learns things about the village and his grief. He makes a friend in the blacksmith’s daughter, Roux and the two are there for each other no matter what. Even at the risk of each other’s lives.

Seeing Gauges anger and eventual acceptance was incredible. It touched me and I think there are a lot of children who could benefit from a read like this although they may need to be a little bit older to really get it and not get distracted by the invisible wolf.

The story is told from her point of view and her personality is great. She’s witty, a little snarky and smart. I also loved the pronunciation guide at the back of the book. Every bit of it is laced with personality. It was great.

A five (5) star read for me. The people in the book are diverse. Their skin being described without any of the harmful stereotypes that still permeate fiction. There’s good growth and the characters are active. They don’t get steered along by the plot, they make things happen by being involved.

A great read.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for access to this ARC in return for an honest review.

Author:

Author. Reader. Reviewer. Interested in Sci-fi, Fantasy, and everything in between. Ya, and Adult. Looking for representaion where it matters! BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, everything! We all deserve stories!

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