Trend Alert: The Rise of 'Wolves' in Recent Book Titles

Posted by Marie on April 25, 2019


"The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives," writes George R.R. Martin. And in the case of the books below, the word "wolves" also thrives as a trending book title across many genres this year. Goodreads talked to authors Roshani Chokshi, Niklas Natt och Dag, Bernard Cornwell, Jordanna Max Brodsky, and Rosella Postorino by email to get their take on how these fierce apex predators inspired their stories and what makes them so appealing to readers.



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Roshani Chokshi

Chokshi is the bestselling author of the YA fantasy series, The Star-Touched Queen and Aru Shah and the End of Time, which is the first book in a middle-grade fantasy series under Rick Riordan's imprint, Rick Riordan Presents. Here she describes the pack mentality of the treasure-hunting, motley crew at the center of her latest YA fantasy series, The Gilded Wolves.

Goodreads: You could have chosen any number of words to describe your story. Why did "the wolves" call to you?

Roshani Chokshi: There's something tragically nerdy about an ensemble cast/tight group of friends thinking of each other as a bunch of loping, furry apex predators when all their scheming takes place in an elaborate library. "Wolves" just fit perfectly. Plus, when your characters take themselves too seriously, it's fun to imagine them randomly howling.

GR: What do you think is the wolf's appeal?

RC: Um, hello—jawline, moonlit fur, ARCTIC EYES?! As a sentient potato, I often wish to be a wolf.

GR: What other book titles were you considering?

RC: Séverin And The No Good Terrible Very Bad Inheritance Deal. Alternatively: How To Waste Money and Alienate Loved Ones.




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Niklas Natt och Dag

A member of one of the oldest noble families in Sweden, Natt och Dag has a strong connection with his homeland's history—a connection that comes through in his historical mystery debut, The Wolf and the Watchman. After a chance encounter with an actual wolf during his childhood, this fierce predator became Natt och Dag's "power animal" and the inspiration behind his book's title.

Goodreads: You could have chosen any number of words to describe your story. Why did "the wolves" call to you?

Niklas Natt och Dag: At the tender age of eight, I was out walking in the woods outside of Stockholm, where I saw what I then thought was a very large German shepherd dog. Being a trusting child, I approached it, reached out, and was bitten quite seriously in my right hand. It later turned out that the animal was in fact a wolf, which had strayed down from its habitat in the north in search of a new mate.

Even though I had to have several shots to nullify the effects of the bite, I later read Jean M. Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear, and realized that an occult bond had been formed between myself and this mysterious beast. The wolf had in fact become my Power Animal.

GR: What do you think is the wolf's appeal?

NNoD: The multifaceted nature of the wolf has been testified by enough 80's metal bands to render any answer of mine redundant.

GR: What other book titles were you considering?

NNoD: I spent many a sleepless night pondering different apex predators in order to find an awesome enough title for my book. Among those considered were the Snake, the Liger and the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The wolf won out in a sort of Battle Royale/Hunger Games scenario that I played out in my head over the course of several weeks, and the others will have to wait for the sequels.




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Bernard Cornwell

This London-born author is known for his popular, historical fiction series The Grail Quest, The Warlord Chronicles, and more. War of the Wolf is the latest book in his Saxon Stories series, and was the basis for The Last Kingdom on Netflix. Before War of the Wolf was named for the villain's sigil, Cornwell lobbied for the title Slaughteryard (which he vows will one day make it to print).

Goodreads: You could have chosen any number of words to describe your story. Why did "the wolves" call to you?

Bernard Cornwell: I'm not sure it did! I find titles appallingly difficult and almost every time I choose one the publisher decides they hate it, and perhaps they're right because, in fairness, one of my best titles, Fools and Mortals, was suggested by the publisher (yes, I know, Shakespeare got there first).

Still publishers can be very odd. Harlequin was published in Britain, but the American publishers changed it to The Archer's Tale because they thought Harlequin would persuade lonely romantic ladies to buy a book about the Hundred Year's War. So what, I asked, but lost the argument.

In truth I was never very happy with War of the Wolf—too simplistic and too long—but I couldn't come up with anything better, and it was relevant inasmuch that the villain's symbol was a wolf.

GR: What do you think is the wolf's appeal to readers?

BC: I suppose the idea of a wolf is threatening. For centuries they were one of humanity's most fearsome enemies, enshrined in Little Red Riding Hood and used, as in War of the Wolf, as a symbol painted on shields to strike terror into an enemy. The word conjures an image of something feral, vicious and frightening, which is a useful image for a book about early mediaeval warfare. Plainly a better title than, say, War of the Wombat.

GR: What other book titles were you considering?

BC: I truly don't remember! I'm sure we did consider other titles. Whenever I'm desperate for a title, I tell my publisher that the book will be called Slaughteryard which inevitably provokes a wolfish backlash of utter disapproval, but it also prompts them to come up with suggestions, as they did with Fools and Mortals. But I am determined to publish Slaughteryard before I go to the great remainder pile in sky!




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Jordanna Max Brodsky

When it comes to researching her books, Brodsky digs deep. For her urban fantasy series, Olympus Bound, she traveled to Pompeii, Rome, Delphi, Athens, and beyond to immerse herself in ancient Greek mythology. For her latest fantasy standalone, The Wolf in the Whale, she traveled to the Canadian subarctic, as well as Iceland and Norway, and learned how wolves play a role in Inuit and Viking culture.

Goodreads: You could have chosen any number of words to describe your story. Why did "the wolves" call to you?

Jordanna Max Brodsky: Wolves evoke both the danger and the beauty of my novel’s setting: the Eastern Canadian Arctic in 1000 A.D. The Far North is one of the most unforgiving landscapes on the planet. In The Wolf in the Whale, wolves of the flesh and wolves of the spirit play an essential role, serving as both companions and guides on my Inuit protagonist’s epic journey to defeat the Viking warriors who have landed on her shores.

GR: What do you think is the wolf's appeal to readers?

JMB: Whatever the appeal, it's existed for a long time. The ancient Romans believed a wolf mother nursed their legendary founders, Romulus and Remus. Wolves also stalk through both the Inuit and Norse myths that inspired much of The Wolf in the Whale. I suspect they appear in so many foundational stories because they remind us of the best parts of ourselves.

They are devoted caregivers, even to pups who are not their own offspring. No one can hear wolves howl for a missing packmate and not believe their songs, like ours, express great love and great sorrow. Their cooperation in the hunt evinces their keen intelligence and uncanny communication. So perhaps it's not surprising that there are so many tales of humans being adopted by wolves: watching a wolf family, so fiercely loyal to each other and so fiercely aggressive toward everyone else, makes you yearn to be one of the pack.

GR: What other book titles were you considering?

JMB: The only other option I considered was The Wolf and the Whale. Using the "and" makes the book sound more like a folk tale, which is not inappropriate for my myth-inspired novel. It also evokes a nice duality reflected throughout the book: wolves and whales, Vikings and Inuit, men and women. In the end, however, I decided to choose the title that I hope is more intriguing—and more apt.

The Wolf in the Whale is more than a story of two clashing cultures: It's a tale of metamorphosis and melding, where identities exist not side by side, but nested one within the other—across time, gender, and even species.




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Rosella Postorino

Postorino is an Italian journalist, novelist, and editor. Her historical fiction book, At the Wolf's Table, is the fourth title she's written and the first to be published in English. Set in World War II, the story follows the untold true story of the women who became Hitler's food tasters.

Goodreads: You could have chosen any number of words to describe your story. Why did "the wolves" call to you?

Rosella Postorino: "Wolf" was Hitler's nickname. That's why his headquarters hidden in the forests of Rastenburg in East Prussia (where my novel, loosely based on a true story, is set) was called the Wolf's Lair. So it was history that suggested that we (my publishing house, Flatiron, and I) choose such a title, which is objective and evocative too.

It's objective because my protagonist Rosa and the other women are forced to eat Hitler's food every day in order to check if it's poisoned, so Rosa and the other food tasters actually eat at the Wolf's table. It's also evocative because the image of the wolf brings to mind danger, cruelty, voracity…seeing the book in a store and not realizing that "the Wolf" refers to a person, people might wonder how anyone could sit at this animal's table, so the title is likely to pique their curiosity.

GR: What do you think is the wolf's appeal to readers?

RP: Above all, the wolf brings to mind a forest, and a forest means darkness, danger, depth, predatory instincts. It also represents the subconscious and sexuality. Just think of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood and all the psychoanalytic analyses written about it.

Human beings have always been frightened of but also fascinated by the wolf. Like many wild animals, the wolf also represents our beastly, brutal, dark side. In folklore, on nights of the full moon people turn into wolves, not into bears or lions!

GR: What other book titles were you considering?

RP: The Italian title of my novel is Le assaggiatrici (The Food Tasters), but one of my options was Nella pancia del lupo (In the Wolf's Belly), so when Flatiron proposed At the Wolf's Table to me I was very happy. My book has already been translated into four languages (it will be translated into 24) and as of yet no other publishing house has used "wolf" in the title. I'm curious to see if someone uses it!




Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)

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message 1: by Rui Ning (last edited Apr 25, 2019 01:23AM) (new)

Rui Ning It's good to point it out before it becomes rampant, like the thousands of books with "girl" in the title that we had to suffer. Especially when the protagonist in question is really more like a mature woman already...

Genuinely, I'm now less likely to read a new book with "girl" in the title, because I automatically interpret it as a lack of imagination on the writer's part.


message 2: by Louisa (new)

Louisa Rui Ning wrote: "It's good to point it out before it becomes rampant, like the thousands of books with "girl" in the title that we had to suffer. Especially when the protagonist in question is really more like a ma..."
I don't think authors pick their own titles...


message 3: by Rui Ning (last edited Apr 25, 2019 02:14AM) (new)

Rui Ning Louisa wrote: "I don't think authors pick their own titles..."

I mean, among the 5 authors interviewed in this article, only Bernard Cornwell said it was the publisher who decided to put "Wolf" in his title. It seems to me that the 4 others got the titles they chose.


message 4: by Holly (new)

Holly Rui Ning wrote: "It's good to point it out before it becomes rampant, like the thousands of books with "girl" in the title that we had to suffer. Especially when the protagonist in question is really more like a ma..."

That was my first thought when I saw the list.

"No books with the word 'girl' and/or 'wolf' in the title."

But then I was like, "Nevermind I'm not reading anything published after 2005 anyway, so I'm in the clear."


message 5: by Oneofthefoxes (last edited Apr 25, 2019 05:37AM) (new)

Oneofthefoxes Its so funnny that the Book from Niklas Och Dags Book is called 1793 in the Original. It totally gets the whole story in another direction with this title, mentioned here.


message 6: by Mea (last edited Apr 25, 2019 03:52PM) (new)

Mea Bad Wolf, anyone?


message 7: by Karen (new)

Karen "Gilded Wolves" is the BEST book I've read in 2019. Incredible story, characters and world building.


message 8: by Elena (new)

Elena I wish we could read on here. If so I would read War of the Wolf


message 9: by Cassie (new)

Cassie Fischer We've also got a lot of first and last name titles. Like Elinor Oliphant, Ava Lavender, Evelyn Hugo, Evelyn Hardcastle, Temperance Hobbs, Deliverance Dane, Daisy Jones


message 10: by Elena (new)

Elena I have heard of Ava Lavender.


message 11: by Melissa (new)

Melissa The titles that annoy me are the one's with so and so's daughter/wife in the title:

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter"
"The Clockmaker's Daughter"
"The Tiger's Wife"
"The Time Traveller's Wife"
"The Zookeeper's Wife"

Too many of these already, and I resent those kinds of titles.


message 12: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Mea wrote: “Bad Wolf anyone?”

Ha ha.

I still like The Wolves of Willoughby Chase best.


Becca | Pages & Postcards Don't forget about the generic young adult book title format: (___) of (___) & (___)

Children of Blood and Bone
A Court of Thorns and Roses
House of Salt and Sorrows (forthcoming)
Crown of Coral and Pearl (forthcoming)


message 14: by Rida (new)

Rida Imran And Crow too!


message 15: by Mackay (new)

Mackay And all the books with "Light" in the titles...All the Light We Cannot See, Light in August, The Light in the Piazza, the one about the Australian lighthouse that also has light in the title, The Light Princess (altho that meant "not heavy'), and so on.


message 16: by Tobias (new)

Tobias Archer They did hyped books that use wolf but what about Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. I have heard so much hype about this book. That might just be me but I have heard several people with a significant following (on Booktube) talk about this book.


message 17: by Adrianna (new)

Adrianna All I can think of is "let's play in the forest, while the wolf is not around" lol.


message 18: by Goodank (new)

Goodank I hope I could read War of The Wolf, so I would write the review on my Tumblr


message 19: by Rui Ning (new)

Rui Ning Holly wrote: "But then I was like, "Nevermind I'm not reading anything published after 2005 anyway, so I'm in the clear."

Ha! What horrible schism happened in 2005? Or are you just letting books trickle through the filter of time before finding the ones you deem worthy?


message 20: by Elena (new)

Elena How is at The Wolf's Table?


Solace_In_Reading Roshani Chokshi is my favorite.


message 22: by Elena (new)

Elena The book from Roshani Chokshi looks interesting.


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