Review: For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

A library copy of For the Wolf sits on a deck flanked by a sunflower and a Sweater Weather candle, along with some fall leaves.

Alexis:

For the Wolf has a lot in common with Lakesedge:

✔️A self-sacrificing man who is seen as a monster to the outside world, but who is only trying to control the environment around him—the environment that is also a part of him

✔️ A run-down estate/castle surrounded by dark, creepy woods

✔️ A slow-paced story of a strong woman attempting to learn how to control her magic

Which of course means that I loved it! I’m always, always a sucker for an atmospheric read with lyrical writing and creepy woods. And this book has so many depictions of dark woods come alive with earthy magic.

Although For the Wolf is being marketed as YA fantasy for some reason, I would describe it as a new adult, romantic fantasy, as Red, the main character, and her twin sister, Neve, are twenty-years-old. 

Red is the Second Daughter of the Queen of Valleydan, which means that she must be sacrificed to the Wolf of the Wilderwood. She’s been told all her life that the Wolf is a monster who is keeping the world’s captured gods from returning. But when she finally meets the Wolf, a man named Eammon, she realizes that what she’s been told is a lie. Meanwhile, stuck as the Princess, Neve, the First Daughter, is doing everything in her power to get Red back from the Wolf, even if it means upending her own world.

As much as I loved this book, I will admit some flaws I noticed while I was reading. While Lakesedge’s magic and worldbuilding is clear, For the Wolf’s worldbuilding is a little hazy. I enjoy slow-paced books, but a lot of answers about the magic system came a little late. We also get short chapters, called Interludes, from Neve’s perspective. And I’ll be honest: I wasn’t really interested in her chapters. However, based on the ending, I think her POV will work well in the sequel. 

While the romance is very similar to that in Lakesedge, I do think it was more fleshed-out and better written in For the Wolf. 

All in all, if you liked similar books, such as Uprooted and The Wolf and the Woodsman, then you might enjoy this one, too!

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

TW: Self harm for magic use (cutting), blood and mild gore, parental death, religious abuse 

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Anna:

Welcome to my first audiobook review! As I mentioned in my last post, I recently moved. While I haven’t had much time to read physical books, I have been enjoying listening to audiobooks while I unpack.

I’ve heard so much buzz around Sadie by Courtney Summers since it came out last September. This is a YA thriller, and though it definitely deals with some heavy and difficult themes (sexual assault, child abuse, murder, etc.) I didn’t find it very explicit. I’d definitely say it’s genre/age appropriate.

Sadie has had to be a grown up for as long as she can remember. Abandoned by her addict mother, Sadie essentially raised her younger sister, Mattie. But when Mattie was 13, she was murdered. Sadie sets out to kill the man who took her sister away from her. Meanwhile, in a complementary storyline, a podcast called The Girls has been created to retrace Sadie’s path, as Sadie has since gone missing.

First off, I think including a point of view from a podcast is brilliant. Not only is this creative, but it captures the obsession in recent years with serialized murder podcasts. This book exposes society’s fascination with murder podcasts and dead girls while also praising the attention brought to poorly-investigated deaths. (The police are utterly useless in helping with Mattie’s death and Sadie’s disappearance in this story.) Summers criticizes the use of serialized podcasts to exploit murder and sexual assault victims for listener’s entertainment, which I applaud her for.

 

Sadie is a complicated protagonist. You kind of hate her because of how stubborn she is, and yet you can’t blame her because she’s wicked strong and had a terrible childhood. Her redeeming factor is the fierce and protective love she has for her sister.

Sadie has a stutter, and her relationship with her stutter and, subsequently, her own body, is fascinating. Other people’s reaction to hearing her speak is heartbreaking. I think this is important representation for people with stutters, who I have never before encountered in literature. (Besides Quirrell in Harry Potter, and that’s definitely not a positive representation of stuttering…ouch….)

I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this because of the way The Girls sounds like a real podcast. The fact that the podcast has strummy, haunting intro music makes it that much more realistic. The voice of the show’s host is also spot on of what you would expect (and of course a show about two girls disappearing is narrated by a man! This feels like pointed commentary on the author’s part).

However, there are multiple voice actors in this and some of them are REALLY bad. I could have read some character’s lines more convincingly. But for the most part, I think the audiobook is well done.

I love that YA thrillers are becoming more of an established genre, and Sadie did not disappoint!

BOOK VERDICT: 4/5

AUDIOBOOK VERDICT: 4/5