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The Wolf Wilder

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Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.

When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published August 25, 2015

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About the author

Katherine Rundell

22 books896 followers
Katherine Rundell was born in 1987 and grew up in Africa and Europe. In 2008 she was elected a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Her first book, The Girl Savage, was born of her love of Zimbabwe and her own childhood there; her second, Rooftoppers, was inspired by summers working in Paris and by night-time trespassing on the rooftops of All Souls. She is currently working on her doctorate alongside an adult novel.

Source: Katherine Rundell

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,172 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
September 14, 2018
Her wolves, Feo thought, were a bunch of the most beautiful criminals.

yes yes a thousand times yes. THIS is the book i was waiting for as a chaser to Rooftoppers.

this is all just wild speculation, but Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms just feels like it was written before Rooftoppers and maybe only saw the light of day to tide rabid fans like me over while rundell was writing her next masterpiece. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms is a fine book, it just doesn't read like it's from the same creative period as the two bookending it. it doesn't have the same sparkle of language or story; it feels … dusty. which made me nervous that Rooftoppers was one of those one-hit-wonder flashes of genius the author is never able to replicate. but then this book.

this book is even better than Rooftoppers.

i know.

bold statement.

Rooftoppers was all charm - a magical book with beautifully light prose, unforgettable characters, and a plot like a symphony - all rise and fall and elegance. but wolf wilder has bite. (chortle, chortle) it has the same kind of unconventional and bold heroine as Rooftoppers, the same killer prose, but it has much more depth. it's dark and stark and sleek and less charming than fierce.

twelve-year-old feodora petrovna and her mother marina live in a secluded forest just outside of st. petersburg in 1917.* feo is a half-wild child who hasn't seen many humans in her life. she and her mother work as wolf wilders - people who remind wolves how to be wolves when the aristocrats who have raised them from cubs to be pets grow tired of them, or when the wolves, crazed by captivity, became too dangerous to remain in the households.

Aristocrats in Russia believe that the killing of a wolf brings a unique kind of bad luck. It is not the glamorous kind of bad luck, not runaway trains and lost fortunes, but something dark and insidious. If you kill a wolf, they say, your life begins to disappear. Your child will come of age on the morning that war is declared. Your toenails will grow inward, and your teeth outward, and your gums will bleed in the night and stain your pillow red. So the wolf must not be shot, nor starved; instead, it is packed up like a parcel by nervous butlers and sent away to the wolf wilder.

feo and her mother are scarred from their dealings with wolves, as all wild, unpampered things in nature are scarred. they have the same kind of intense and enviable relationship as charles and sophie in Rooftoppers - one made up of mutual respect, loyalty and love, awe and appreciation.

Humans, on the whole, Feo could take or leave; there was only one person she loved properly, with the sort of fierce pride that gets people into trouble, or prison, or history books.

while marina is the very embodiment of protective maternal love

"…you will keep your hands off my daughter if you value their current position at the ends of your arms."

Rakov snorted. "That is somewhat unfeminine."

"Not at all. It seems profoundly feminine to me."

besides the people who bring them discarded wolves, the wolves themselves make up the extent of their social circle. these are not pets, but companions, as "…wolves cannot be owned." they can be tamed for a while and taught to do things that go against their wolf natures, but the wild will always come out eventually. there are three wolves feo considers to be special friends, named black, white, and gray. together, they constitute an unconventional pack - a sort-of family of wild equals who hunt and run together, but are not necessarily obedient. feo never treats them like pets - she always respects them as the wild and unpredictable creatures they are.

Feo did not go close - it is wisest not to interrupt wolves when they are eating, even if they are your best friends

when their home is burned and her mother imprisoned by general rakov, head of the tsar's imperial army, feo and her wolves escape into the bitter cold where feo plots her mother's rescue. over the course of the book, feo will meet more people than she has in her entire life; she will find friendship and community and experience all the benefits and hindrances of a human pack. however, she never compromises her fearless, wild, independent self, being all too familiar with what can happen to a noble creature in captivity.

"Society" wolves could always beg, hold out a paw, lie still. Often - it made Feo want to cry - they could dance on their hind legs, their faces blank.

there's so much to this tiny little book, i can't even begin to make a dent in the bucket of praise i have for it.

you can turn to any page in this book and encounter a piece of perfect prose, a startling description, a delicate turn of phrase. let's test this hypothesis:

*Marina's shoulders and back and hips were wide; she had muscles that were more commonly seen on men, or rather, Feo thought, on wolves. But her face, a visitor had once said, was built on the blueprint used for snow leopards, and for saints. "The look," he had said, "is 'goddess, modified.'" Feo had pretended, at the time, not to be proud.

* …any knocking at all was unusual. Nobody knocked: It was just her and her mother and the wolves. Wolves do not knock. If they want to come in, they come in through the window, whether is it open or not.

*"I sleep with a dictionary under my pillow, sometimes. Just to remind me that there are more words in the world than 'Come here, boy.'"

that's how a hypothesis grows up to be a fact.

the only thing i didn't love with all my heart was rakov, who was just a little TOO villainy for me. it's not that i require a whole lot of nuance in my antagonists when i'm reading middle grade, but for a book that was so admirably restrained and subtle in so many other ways, having a cackly mustache-twirling villain didn't blend well, tonally.

but it's one of those "imperfections," like the scars on marina's face, that makes everything around it even more beautiful. the characters are remarkable, the story original, the setting beautifully and very visually described, and there's some really fine subtext going on here that makes my heart sing. there are also some solid life lessons, but they're gracefully woven into the plot instead of jazzhanded at you.

i really loved this book. i read it in two giant gulps, completely immersed in its world and characters. for those of you with feelings - parts of this book might require kleenex, but it's not a bleak story overall.

just stunning. i'm nothing but swoon.

* book just says a hundred years ago, but i'm timing this by the february revolution, so.


i'll write a real review as soon as i can, but right now i just want to celebrate the fact that this book is just as good as (possibly better) than Rooftoppers, and that the mediocre Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms was a fluke and katherine rundell is the real deal.

also, this book is physically gorgeous.


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full review to come.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Nat.
546 reviews3,172 followers
December 28, 2016
DNF at page 61.

“Aristocrats in Russia believe that the killing of a wolf brings a unique kind of bad luck. It is not the glamorous kind of bad luck, not runaway trains and lost fortunes, but something dark and insidious. If you kill a wolf, they say, your life begins to disappear.”

I was so excited to start this one because the premise sounded right up my ally and also the book cover is absolutely gorgeous.

And it did start out really great- honestly, any story starting with Once upon a time… will have my utter and complete attention. It was really easy getting into Feo’s world, I could feel the cold of winter (even though it’s summer and hot as hell where I live), and the wolves breathing next to Feodora and every description was so visually pleasing.

But the more I got into the story, the more I realized how naive and irrational Feo was acting. She got herself into too much trouble and after watching her do the same mistake over and over, it started to feel really repetitive — I mean, how is she still alive after talking back so many times to so many soldiers with guns??

And then we get introduced to Ilya, a 13-year-old soldier boy, and he just ruined the story. I’m surprised that someone can ask so many damn questions, aren’t soldiers like him trained to keep quiet??

Example number 1 (out of too many) of Feo's naivety:
Why would you tell a soldier, that’s been ordered to kill you and the wolves, where you live?? How can she afford to be so irrational and gullible?

“We have to go,” said Feo. “Good night.”
“Where are you taking her?”
Feo hesitated. “You won’t tell?”
“Never! Really, I swear, Feo.”
“I’m taking her home: my house. She can sleep inside if she wants to, or on the porch.”

I'm truly astonished that the wolves trusted her with their lives.


*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying The Wolf Wilder, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!*

This review and more can be found on my blog.
Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
673 reviews5,465 followers
February 10, 2021
Quite possibly one of the darker middle grades I have read, with gorgeous atmosphere and a beautiful relationship between humans and animals at its core, this is such a great read. Also, the illustrations also add to the impact of the book.
Profile Image for Stacey (prettybooks).
509 reviews1,548 followers
January 30, 2018
"Stories can start revolutions."

The Wolf Wilder was one of my most anticipated books of 2015. I refused to read my early copy as I wanted to wait to see Gelrev Ongbico's divine illustrations . And it was well worth the wait. I cannot decide which cover for The Wolf Wilder I love the most; it's a stunning book, inside and out.

The Wolf Wilder is a beautiful story about one girl's treacherous adventure through dangerous, snowy Russia to save her mother, who has been attacked and captured by the Russian Army because she refused to give them what they wanted. They burned down the house and dragged her away to a Russian prison, as ordered by the diabolical general, Mikhail Rakov. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans. Wolves are often sent back into the wild by rich owners who have grown bored – or afraid – of their good luck charms, but it's bad luck to kill a wolf. Accompanied by three loyal wolves and a surprisingly trustworthy boy soldier called Ilya, Feo sets off into the woods and begins a journey that will change her life. Feo is a resilient and determined character, and an absolute joy to read about.

"Wolves, like children, are not born to lead calm lives."

It's certainly been the year of the wolf because this is the second 'wolf' book to make my top ten books of the year. I loved learning about each of the wolves and their personalities: White, Grey and Black, plus the adorable wolf cub and Feo's dutiful Tenderfoot. All of the wolves are characters in their own right and guide the courageous children as they defy the adults around them. Katherine Rundell's picturesque and memorable writing combined with Gelrev Ongbico's haunting and wintry illustrations create a fantastic adventure story for all ages. I do not have any excuses for not picking up my copy of Rooftoppers, do I?!

"It's inhuman to take your books away before you know the end."

I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.
Profile Image for Katrina.
821 reviews24 followers
October 4, 2016
I badly wanted to love this book. On the surface, it holds so much promise: why wouldn't I be excited about a sharp-elbowed Russian heroine who spends her time teaching partially domesticated wolves to howl again? Plus, I've enjoyed the author's other works, and I've been excited about this one since I saw it on display (but not being distributed) at ALA. It is, without a doubt, one of the prettier books I've bought this year.

Unfortunately, this is a disaster of a narrative. It's getting two stars only because there are some beautiful passages strewn into the mess. I'd consider dropping it to one and a half stars, if I could, because those profound little shards don't even fit into the rest of the story. I don't know what Katherine Rundell was trying to accomplish in this work, and that's the problem.

It's a story about a wild girl who was raised in the Russian woods by her mother and a pack of wolves. But how does this play out? There's no backstory. Other than an offhand comment about stemming from generations of wolf wilders, nothing on the page explains why they're in the woods, what happened to her father, what happens to the other wolves (presumably they've "wilded" more than the four Feo interacts with on a daily basis), and what they do with the rest of their time. Feo's mother could have been a fascinating character, but she disappears quickly, setting the stage for a band of children to march on a Russian city to rescue her.

And that's how it transitions into an oddly political missive about an inept tsar and a legitimately unhinged general, who makes it his personal mission to murder the wolves (for killing an elk?), as well as Feo and her mother. General Rakov is so far off the charts as a foaming at the mouth, bloodthirsty, fire-loving caricature that he can't even count as a legitimate character. He burns down Feo's house, arrests her mother, shoots three wolves (killing two), and tracks them through the woods for the rest of the book - but in the most ridiculously ineffective way. At several points, Feo manages to drive him off by frightening his horse, then spends a solid day camping out in the same spot, then digging a grave for her wolf, and leaving a bloody trail for him to follow. Somehow Rakov, despite his overpowering presence as her personal nemesis, doesn't manage to turn his horse around and return to the scene until Rundell is ready to spin another implausible scenario. To make this even more ludicrous, a ballet teacher easily tracks them to the abandoned castle where they've taken shelter, but Rakov waits until they're ready to confront him in the way Rundell had planned.

Then there's the revolutionary component, with agitator Alexei, whose radical ideas lead to soldiers burning down his village. He, in combination with a four page, entirely out of character speech by Feo, convinces hundreds of other villagers, city people, and nuns(?) to batter down the gates of the prison and ... start a revolution? I guess?

What makes it worse is that this is intended to be set in a historical context, 100 years in Russia's past, yet I didn't gather the impression that Rundell knew a single thing about Russia, wolves, the political structure of the country, the historical time period, or pretty much anything else she chose to write about. Rooftoppers was a breathtakingly brilliant book, because it was grounded in a world she knew well, and could twist into a unique view. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, her second novel, faltered through some predictable storylines, but had an appeal of its own. The Wolf Wilder doesn't even feel like it was produced by the same author; in places, the ideas Feo and the other children craft during their rescue mission sound like they'd sprung from the imagination of an actual child, which is interesting in its own way, but not something that gives a book sustained interest and longevity.

For example, Feo chases away some of Rakov's men from a village, not understanding that they can return, in greater numbers, and do far more harm than they'd originally intended. When this is pointed out to her, she ropes the other children into whittling "wolves' paws," which they can tie to their hands and feet and use to leave intimidating pawprints around the village. This will, somehow, frighten the dozens of gun-toting soldiers away. Obviously nothing comes of this plan, but what I don't understand is why it's included to begin with. That's not the only incident of its kind.

There are also weirdly lazy hand-waving elements, like the fact that a thirteen year old boy, who had previously been training as a soldier, rides on the back of a running wolf for extended periods of time, as though wolves can double as horses. Or the compass, which Feo creates out of a bowl of water and a needle, then balances on the head of her running wolf (without the water splashing out, I suppose?), and continues to use even when the weather dips below 40, which is the point that your actual eyeballs begin to freeze if you don't find shelter quickly enough. How is the water not solid ice? How is the compass still functioning? The author doesn't care. That lack of interest in creating a world with consistent internal logic makes it difficult to care about the story, as a reader.

Then there's Feo herself, who feels like she was plucked straight out of Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms and renamed. Her age is some oddly nebulous number (over ten but under thirteen - I don't think it was ever specifically stated, and have no desire to skim back through the book for confirmation), yet her dialogue shifts between the ages of three and thirty. In the aforementioned call to arms, she makes proclamations such as: "We've got to say, You do not get to take anything more...The adults, they want us to be quiet and careful, but we have a right to fight for the world we want to live in, and nobody has the right to tell us to be safe and sensible. I say, today, we fight!" This battle cry could be pulled from any number of Hollywood blockbusters, but it's safe to say that Feo, in the Russian countryside a century ago, probably wasn't soaking up this kind of language from movies like Braveheart and Independence Day. It's a clear author-insert, as she wrangles the reins from her own narrator.

On the other side of the equation, Rundell periodically remembers that Feo is meant to be a young, not well-educated wild child who doesn't have substantial knowledge of the world outside her isolated woods. She conveys this through jokes that fall rather flat. For instance, when Alexei's sister describes him as an "agitator," Feo doesn't know the word, and assumes that she's being told that he's an alligator. "That just seems...so unlikely," she says, and they move on.

It's baffling. I suspect that, without the success of her two earlier novels, this one wouldn't have made it past the publishers. I wish it had spent more time in the editing process, and that it'd been substantially rewritten to provide a solid arc - any storyline at all, really, that would make more sense than this one. What a disappointment.
Profile Image for Emily.
97 reviews57 followers
September 2, 2015



Look at the beauty of wolves. That should be all the incentive you need to read this book. Wolves!

Also, the fact that this is a book by Katherine Rundell is another huge incentive. Her books are little gems, and Rooftoppers was utterly charming (as was this).

Follow the dark and stormy girl, the soldier , the revolutionary, and the wolves as they journey through a Russian winter to discover how to be wild and how to be themselves, which may just be the most wild journey yet.

"It's inhumane to take your books away before you know the end."
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,196 reviews398 followers
August 31, 2020
Feodora and her mother live deep in the woods in Russia, they are wolf wilders, they untame wolves kept as fashionable pets by wealthy Russians. This story had a fairytale feel and there were some enjoyable parts reminiscent of the Snow Queen, the inhospitable landscape and the journey to rescue a loved one and the people met on the way but I found the story too focused on the fight and the politics against the Russian army. I was expecting more wolf details, nothing was really explained about how they went about wolf wilding or how they came to be wilders in the first place. The unimaginatively named wolves, Black, White, and Grey, didn't do much other than pee in places, this was mentioned so many times it became a bit tedious. There was so much arguing and speeches, I find this boring in a story.

There were enjoyable parts to the planning of the revolution in a burnt out castle, the imagination of the children inventing a plausible costume was creative and fun, I liked the different characters and their Russian names and personalities, parts were quite atmospheric.

The culmination of the story and several of fight scenes throughout the book seemed too farfetched

Whilst it was great to have a male character who loved ballet

Parts of this I enjoyed but parts I didn't. If this wasn't an audio version I would have given up so I suppose this was a 2.5 stars for me.
Profile Image for Soheil Khorsand.
298 reviews142 followers
April 26, 2021
گفتار اندر معرفی کتاب
گفتار اندر معرفی کتاب
با گرگ‌ها، عنوانِ کتابی به قلمِ خانمِ «کاترین راندل» نویسنده‌ی انگلیسی‌ست.
او در سال ۱۹۸۷ میلادی دیده به جهان گشود و دورانِ تحصیل خود را در دانشگاه آکسفورد سپری کرد.، از مهمترین اثرِ او می‌توان به داستانِ بلندِ «بام‌نشینان» یاد کرد که در سال ۲۰۱۵ او را صاحبِ جایزه‌ی کلی کتاب کودکان(واتز استونز) و جایزه‌ی بهترین داستان(بلو پیتر) کرد.

گفتار اندر ترجمه‌ی کتاب
با گرگ‌ها در ایران توسطِ خانمِ «آرزو مقدس» ترجمه و نهایتا توسطِ انتشاراتِ‌ «پرتغال» چاپ و منتشر گردیده است.
متن ترجمه‌ روان، بدون هرگونه مشکل در جمله‌بندی و البته به زبانِ عامیانه‌ی مختصِ کودکان و نوجوانان بود.
ذکر این نکته را لازم می‌بینم که چندبار در هنگامِ خواندنِ کتاب که تعدادشان به انگشتانِ یک‌دست هم نمی‌رسید احساس کردم مطالبِ کتاب مورد سانسور و ممیزی قرار گرفته است که قطعا صحتِ این مطلب را از خودِ مترجم که از دوستانم در گودریدز هستند استعلام خواهم کرد.

پس از ستایش از مترجم لازم می‌بینم انتقادی را هم که وارد می‌بینم بیان کنم:
مدتی‌ست در کتاب‌های مختلف شوربختانه با این مورد مواجه هستم که مترجم‌ها گاها شناختی از حرکات ورزشی ندارند و صرفا آن بخش‌ها را بصورت ماشینی به کمک گوگل و یا لغت‌نامه ترجمه می‌کنند.
برای مثال مسخره‌ترین شکلِ آن را از خواهرانِ عزیز�� دیده بودم که «فری ویت» را بجای «وزنه‌ی آزاد» به «دستگاهِ ورزشیِ رایگان» ترجمه کرده بودند!!!
در این کتاب هم یکبار با جمله‌ی زیر روبرو شدم:
"مارینا سی و سه سالش بود و قدش به اندازه‌ای بلند بود که سرش به تیرکِ بالای در می‌رسید. او به فئو یاد داده بود که خودش را از تیرکِ بالای چهارچوبِ درها بالا بکشد و حرکات ورزشی انجام دهد."

چرا آخه خانم مقدس؟!؟ می‌نوشتی به فئو بارفیکس یاد داده بود و خلاص. بخدا بچه‌های ۵ساله هم الان می‌دونند بارفیکس چیه و به نظر من این موارد باعث میشه کودکان بیشتر در موردش کنجکاو بشن تا اینکه فکر کنند یعنی چی از تیرک بالای چهارچوب آویزان بشیم چون کودک که الان بالای چهارچوب در اتاقش تیرک نداره بیشتر گیج میشه!

گفتار اندر داستان کتاب
روزی روزگاری در روسیه‌ی تزاری دختری به نامِ «فئودورا» که در کتاب و خطاب‌های خودمانی «فئو» خطاب می‌شود به همراهِ مادرش «مارینا» در کلبه‌ای زندگی‌ می‌کردند.
شغلِ آن‌ها پذیرشِ گرگ‌هایی بود که توسطِ اشراف و مردمِ شهرنشین آنها را خریداری و اهلی می‌کردند اما پس از مدتی که از دید خودشان به شکلی آسیبی از گرگ می‌دیدند آن‌ها را به نزدِ این مادر و دختر می‌‌آوردند تا آن‌ها آن گرگ‌ را مجدد وحشی کرده تا آماده ورود به جامعه‌‌ی گله‌ایِ خود با خوی وحشیِ طبیعیتِ خود گردند.
روزی از روزها، شخصی به نامِ «ژنرال میخاییل راکوف» به همراه چند سرباز به کلبه‌ی آن‌ها می‌آیند و بابت اینکه گرگ‌ها یک گوزن که غذای هنگِ‌ ارتش بود را از پای درآورده آن‌ها را تهدید و محکوم به پرداخت جریمه در حقِ تزار می‌کند و این باعثِ‌ آغازِ یک دشمنی می‌گردد که آنطور که در کتاب می‌خوانیم نهایتا منجر به بازداشتِ مادرِ فئو و زندانی شدنش می‌گردد.
فئو پس از زندانی شدنِ مادرش و آتش زدنِ کلبه‌شان توسطِ‌ راکوف تنها با سه گرگِ دوست داشتنی(مشکی، سپید و خاکستری) و دوستِ سربازش (ایلیا) تصمیم به سفر به سوی زندان می‌گیرد که در این راه با پسری به نامِ «الکسی» آشنا می‌شود که داستانِ سفر و زندگی‌ش را به طورِ عجیبی دست‌خوش تغییر می‌کند تا اینکه... .

گفتار اندر محتوای کتاب
کلیدواژه‌ و اسم رمزِ اصلیِ این کتاب «شجاعت» است.
نویسنده می‌خواهد به کودکان و نوجوانان شجاعت را بیاموزد و بگوید اگر آن‌ها بخواهند می‌توانند با تلاش دست به کارهای بزرگی بزنند و اگر در زندگی با مشکلی روبرو شدند بجای اینکه گریه‌زاری کنند و یا گوشه‌گیر و منزوی شوند برای حل مشکلاتِ خود تلاش کنند.
به عقیده‌ی من نویسنده در قالبِ داستانی دوست داشتنی به خوبی از عهده‌ی این مهم برآمد و پیام خود را به وضوح به خواننده منتقل کرد، به همین جهت خواندنِ این کتاب را به کودکان و نوجوانانِ اطرافِ خود پیشنهاد خواهم کرد و به شما دوستانم نیز پیشنهاد می‌کنم اگر خواستید برای این گروه‌ِ سنی کتابی هدیه بگیرید این کتاب یکی از بهترین انتخاب‌هاست.

نقل‌قول‌ نامه
"هیچکی نمی‌تونه صاحبِ گرگ‌ها باشه."

"گرگ‌ها همیشه یک راهی پیدا می‌کنند. گرگ‌ها جادوگرانِ دنیای حیوانات هستند."

"گرگ‌ها خنده نمی‌کنند اما از لذت می‌لرزند."

"آدم‌ها از هیچ‌چیز به اندازه‌ی تماشای سوختنِ چیزهایی که دوست دارند، نمی‌ترسند."

"بی‌گناهی همیشه باعث نمیشه کاری با آدم نداشته باشند!"

"وقتی جهان به یک‌باره می‌چرخد و روی مهربانش را به آدم نشان می‌دهد، نفس کشیدن دشوار می‌شود."

این کتاب، کتابی نبود که به عنوانِ یک بزرگسال از آن به حدی لذت ببرم که بگویم این کتاب مختص سنِ خاصی نیست و از کودک تا کهنسال می‌توانند از خواندنِ آن لذت ببرند.
بنابراین اگر بخواهم از دید خودم به کتاب نمره بدهم ۲ستاره، از دیدِ یک کودک ۴ستاره و از دیدِ یک نوجوان ۳ستاره برایش منظور می‌کنم، به همین دلیل در جمع‌بندی نهایی ۲ستاره را بسیار کم و ناعادلانه، ۴ستاره را بسیار زیاد و ناعادلانه و ۳ستاره را میانگین و حداعتدال و عادلانه می‌دانم و برایش منظور می‌کنم.

در مورد این کتاب به دلیلِ اینکه مترجم ۲۱۶ صفحه کتاب را ترجمه کرده، ساختِ فایلِ پی‌دی‌اف را دهن کجی به زحمات و وقتی که گذاشته‌اند دانستم و از انجام اینکار پرهیز کردم.
در صورت نیاز به خواندنِ آن می‌توانید از طریقِ پلتفرومِ طاقچه آن‌را خریداری و یا اگر اشتراکِ طاقچه بی‌نهایت دارید آن‌را به رایگان بخوانید.
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,424 followers
May 18, 2015
This book makes me feel ten years old again. Every time I read a Katherine Rundell book I wonder why I ever spend time reading anything else. Her writing style is so unique and stunning I could probably recognise it from one sentence. Every word is a treasure, and her concepts are so original and different reading her books is like a breath of fresh air.
Loved it.
Profile Image for Katherine.
769 reviews346 followers
October 27, 2019
”Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there was a dark and stormy girl.”

This novel just goes to show you that you don’t have to be old or tall to start a revolution. Sometimes the bravest of individuals come in the smallest (and fiercest) packages.

Feodora and her mother live deep in the Russian wilderness. It’s always been just the two of them, and they have an interesting occupation: they teach domesticated wolves to be wild again. Back in the day, Russian nobles showed their wealth and nobility by having a pet wolf. The wolves were often overfed and mistreated by their owners, and when they got too big, bothersome, or dangerous to be kept as pets any longer, they were sent to wolf wilders to release back into the wilderness, since in Russian folklore it is considered bad luck to kill a wolf. Feo and her mother make a living doing this and have wilded hundreds of wolves. Because of this, Feo is considered by many to be half-wild herself, with her mother and three half-domesticated wolves as her constant and only companions.
”Feo could not remember a time when she had not known and loved the wolves. It was impossible not to love them: They were so lean and beautiful and uncompromising. Wolves made sense to her; wolves were one of the few things worth dying for.”
But their peaceful world is shattered when one of their wolves kills the czar’s prized horse, and a general by the name of Rakov comes into their own private world, shattering the once peaceful atmosphere. When he takes Feo’s mama, it’s up to her, her wolves, and a few new friends made along the way to stop him... and spark a revolution.

I’ve always had a fondness to middle grade because oftentimes, the protagonists are so fun to read about. They’re spunky, they’re wild, and they’re at that stage where they feel they can take on anything. Feo is no exception. She’s fierce, aloof, determined, and fiercely devoted to her wolves Black, Gray, and White. She could be socially aloof and awkward at times, but that’s because she’s one of those individuals who gets along better with animals than people. The existence many would consider to be a harsh, lonely and isolated one is Feo’s version of pure happiness. I loved how close of a relationship she has with her mother and how devoted they are to one another. I also liked her burgeoning friendship with Ilya, a boy who’s a Russian soldier on Rakov’s army. Some of their exchanges are just brimming with sass!
”’He doesn’t like you.’
‘Why not?’
‘Because I don’t like you. And he can feel it.’
‘Well, stop it!’
‘Disliking you?’
‘Yes! Now! Stop it immediately!’
‘You very much started it! You’re pointing a gun at me.’”
You might have to suspend some disbelief in the fact that there was a separate children’s revolution in Russia (which never happened), but this book contains such a powerful message, especially at this politically tumultuous time. Children are our future, whether we want to believe it or not, and oftentimes their words, actions and ideas can make all the difference.

So let this story of a fierce, independent, stubborn, determined girl who runs with the wolves be all the motivation you need to go out there and make a change. Because if a half-wild girl can speak such eloquent words as those below, than there’s no reason your voice shouldn’t be heard either.
”Mikal Rakov started all this. Rakov came in the night and burned down our home. He took my mama away, because he was afraid of her. He was afraid that she wasn’t afraid. He’s taking our food and homes. And he’s taking the people we love. And he’s taking our future. And the future needs our protection: It’s a fragile thing. The future needs all the help it can get.

Rakov wants to kill my mama. He wants to use today to take her away from me forever. But I- I am the wolf girl, and I am not afraid of him!

He’s blind in one eye because of me. But he’s always been blind: He doesn’t see the facts. The fact that there are more than us than there are of him. The fact that fire in your soul beats fire on the ground. The fact that love always beats fear. And the fact that it helps to have wolves on your side.

He saw no reason to take the things he wanted. He thought fear was the most powerful thing in the world. He thought fear had the most kick- he thought we’d care more about being safe than being bold. And I’d rather be bold. We’ve got to say, You do not get to take anything more.
Profile Image for Saruuh Kelsey.
Author 23 books83 followers
May 29, 2015
The Wolf Wilder is what children's fiction is all about. A sweeping landscape, an unforgettable main character, a budding revolution, and wolves!

This book held my attention from the first page, so much so that I read a huge chunk of it in one sitting (50%!) I was instantly drawn into the snowy wilds of Russia, and my heart attached itself to Feo and the wolves without my knowing. This book is just so unique, and genuine, and unlike anything I've read before that it was impossible to put down.

When we get into the second half of the book, we're made aware of the state of Russia, and how beaten they are by Rakov, the terrible tyrant who rules over Feo's little corner of Russia. And we meet a slowly-building revolution, with ordinary, and angry, children at the heart of it. This book, if nothing else, tells of the power of children. And it shows, when organised and determined, that someone small can accomplish something great and affect the lives of hundreds. Feo's bravery drove this story, but her love for the wolves, her mother, and Ilya really brought it to life.

Charming and magical, The Wolf Wilder is a captivating novel of courage and love for people of all ages. I loved it!
Profile Image for La La.
976 reviews126 followers
August 31, 2020
This book might have a stellar cover, but it is one hot mess inside. First of all if you are going to write a story featuring wolves, please research wolves! You can't write a non-fantasy story and say these are the way I need wolves to be for my storyline, so screw the reality of biology. The wolf depictions were so unfactual and fantastical that many readers have mistaken it for Fantasy, when in actuality it is Historical Fiction. For example, wolves do not have sharp deeply curved claws like bears and do not stand on their back legs slashing at enemies like bears do; they have straight dull claws (nails) like dogs which are for digging earth, not catching prey. I think the author has watched too many werewolf movies.

The first half of the book is 90% running away from people through the woods, and it got boring for me as an adult, so imagine how bored a Middle Grade age reader would get. Then there is the long droning on about politics, also glazed look inducing for a MG reader. The political speech towards the end of the book... waaaaaay toooooooo loooooooong. The finale read like an unedited brain puke of a first draft. It was like listening to a five year old tell a made up story at the dinner table. I was so disappointed this book didn't live up to its synopsis. It was a huge let down.

I was approved for an eARC, via Edelweiss, in return for an honest review. I will not be reviewing it on my blog because it was less than four stars.
Profile Image for Sophie Woodward-Rowe.
23 reviews10 followers
December 5, 2015
I laughed, I cried, felt like my heart would stop and then that it might break. Feo and Sophie from Rooftoppers are somewhat interchangeable so don't read them too close together but otherwise I'm pretty ok with that! I can always read more of heroines that are both badass and really untidy...
Profile Image for Giovanna.
160 reviews47 followers
September 4, 2021
The novel places at the center of the story the strong relationship that exists between Feo and her wolves but also between Feo and her mother.

In the first pages it is explained to us how some people want at all costs to have a pet as a wolf and this being, as well as wrong, very difficult, the owners decide to put them back in the wild. This is of course a problem for wolves that are born in captivity. For this there are the Wolf Wilders who help these wolves to ease back into a new life while getting used to the wild and learning to be wary of humans. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder while Feodora is a wolf wilder in training.

In the second part of the novel we are instead shown the political picture of Russia and in particular of the town where the story unfolds where sergeant Mikai rakov tyrannizes in the name of the tsar.

The topics covered are therefore many but in my opinion everyone is given the same importance without the danger of falling into the approximation.
September 17, 2017
"The fact that fire in your soul beats fire on the ground. The fact that love always beats fear. And the fact that it helps to have wolves on your side."

Story ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
After her mother is captured by an evil General Feo begins an adventure with her wolfs, her new friend Ilya and a lot of brave people.

Characters ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I can't even choose which character I loved more, they were all so kind hearted and brave and everyone had something that just made you love them. But of course Feo was a great main character with her naive, but brave point of view and Ilya who became such a good friend to Feo, even if they didn't met in good circumstances.

Relationships ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
In this story friendship is so important and of course family. Not only the family you have by blood, but the family you choose to have.
Your own wolves pack. 👧🏻🐕🐕🐕

Writing style ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This was just so heart warming and cute.
I loved it so much! The pictures in it were beautiful and made the story even better.
It easily could have been a Russian story they tell children before they go to sleep.
I will definitely read another story of the author, because her writing is simple but beautiful. And probably reread this book.
Profile Image for Munro's Kids.
557 reviews17 followers
September 10, 2015
I really loved this book. It had just lovely writing and a very fairy-tale like feel about it, though more action than you would usually find in a fable-like novel.

Feo is a young Russian girl who is a wolf wilder - she takes domesticated wolves whose owners don't want them anymore (it is very unlucky to kill wolves in the story's Russia) and "wilds" them by training them to hunt, howl and be wolves. She is a strong and wonderful heroine facing off against a very evil Tsarist officer. The background is pre-Revolutionary Russia and there is rebellion in the air throughout the story. Actually, I fell in love with the historical setting so much, that I had to double check that Rundell made up the whole notion of "wolf wilders" (she did). The supporting characters were likewise lovely and well-drawn, and the line by line writing full of quirks and quips and nice pieces of description. Though by no means perfect - there were some plot contrivances, etc - it was a very satisfying read. Great for Diana Wynne Jones or Eva Ibbotsen fans, or a slightly simpler Plain Kate kind of read.

Profile Image for mad mags.
1,107 reviews81 followers
June 22, 2015
"Stories can start revolutions."

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Mild trigger warning for sexual harassment of a minor.)

"Humans, on the whole, Feo could take or leave; there was only one person she loved properly, with the sort of fierce pride that gets people into trouble, or prison, or history books."

"[A] wolf who cannot howl is like a human who cannot laugh."

Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there lived a dark and stormy girl. She was wild in spirit and loved fiercely; and no wonder, for she was raised in the company not of humans, but of wolves. They were her friends, her teachers, her pupils, her family - her (almost) everything. And, at the tender age of twelve, this girl and her half-tame friends would go on to lead a revolution.

Feodora Petrovich and her mother Marina live in the Russian wilderness, not too far from Saint Petersburg. Though they're the only humans for miles, they're hardly alone - not exactly. The Petrovich family has been wilding wolves for centuries - since the days of Peter the Great, in fact.

Wolf wilding is the exact opposite of wolf taming (not that you can ever truly tame a wolf, mind you): training captive wolves to survive in the wild, without any human interference. Feo and Marina take in wolves who were kidnapped as pups, sold as pets, and subsequently - unsurprisingly - became "dangerous" or "nuisance" animals as they aged. Many of "their" wolves left with a piece of their former owners, literally: fingers, ears, noses, or a pound of random flesh.

Wolves aren't just status symbols in Russia, but also good luck charms; conversely, it's considered bad luck to kill a wolf. Thus, unwanted wolves become problems, foisted onto wolf wilders by the rich.

Not that Feo would ever describe her wolf friends as such: aside from Marina, the wolves are the only family Feo has ever known. So when the Tsar's favored General, Mikhail Rakov, orders that they stop wilding wolves - the same wolves who are killing "his" wild game - under penalty of imprisonment or death, Feo and Marina defy his command. Naturally. In retaliation, Rakov destroys their home, arrests Marina for treason, and vows to exterminate Feo and her wolves for good.

Now it's up to Feo to rescue her mom from Kresty Prison. Luckily, she has a little help in the form of Black, White, and Gray, her adopted wolf family. There's also Ilya, an unwilling child soldier gone AWOL; Alexei Gastevski, a fifteen-year-old agitator from a nearby village, ransacked by Ravok and his men just days before; and the village children, who have tired of their parents' deliberations and want nothing more than the chance to wreak a little mayhem.

The Wolf Wilder is a beautiful, magical, heartfelt fairy tale wrapped in a warm, furry package. Rundell's prose is simple yet stirring; The Wolf Wilder is filled with lovely, eminently quotable bits.

The wolves, of course, positively steal the show. The passages about the wolves - their mistreatment at the hands of humans, their indomitable spirits, Feo's interactions with (and love for) them - are among the most beautiful in the book.

Animal activists will note a clear parallel between the treatment of wolves in contemporary America and turn-of-the-century Russia: eschewing traditional superstitions surrounding wolves, Rakov instead sees them as vermin (and Feo, tellingly, is likewise vermin when she is with them; holy dehumanizing and othering, Batman!). When the wolves kill other free-living animals, such as elks, Rakov becomes enraged: in his speciesist worldview, all the animals of the world (or Russia, at least) belong to him, and as such the wolves are stealing his animals. Sentience be damned. This is also the same effed up logic that's led to the mass extermination of wolves in the U.S.: ranchers become positively murderous when wolves kill "their" cows, pigs, chickens - farmed animals who were destined for the dinner table one way or another.

That said, the kids are pretty awesome too. This is a story populated largely by children; save for Marina, the adults are mostly villainous or indifferent. Or scared to act - that is, until their children show them the way.

Feo is ... well, Feo. I suspect that I feel the same way about dogs that she does wolves - I have five rescues and also foster - and I could relate to her on so many levels. Her friendships with Black, White, Gray, Tenderfoot, and the pup were a pleasure to witness, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried more than once. ("More than once"? I went through half a box of Kleenex, dammit!) Socially awkward due to her limited interactions with humans, it was also nice to watch her cultivate relationships with teenagers Ilya and Alexei. Likewise, I loved watching Ilya overcome his fear of wolves.

And can we talk about Ilya for a moment? A sensitive and artistic boy, Ilya's father made him join the tsar's Imperial Army after the death of his mother. When he first meets Feo, it's to carry out Rakov's order to KILL ALL THE WOLVES! In this case, a very pregnant, about-to-give-birth Tenderfoot. He doesn't particularly want to, which is perhaps why Feo is able to scare/persuade him into dropping his gun. Once he meets Tenderfoot's unnamed pup - one of two, the first of which was stillborn - his heart slowly starts to warm to this vilified species. (I also appreciate how Rundell employs the power of baby animals to break down barriers.) Thus begins a friendship to last a lifetime.

Rundell drops small hints that Ilya might be gay; so small, in fact, that I initially thought I was imagining things. For example, Ilya always seems to turn beet red in Alexei's presence, and manifests a strong desire to impress the older boy.

Ilya loves to dance (not that challenging gender roles makes you gay, fyi) and never misses an opportunity to dazzle. Feo describes his dancing "like a lost boy foun: like a victory parade." When the famed Igor Darikev comes to recruit Ilya as a student, he cautions the boy that such a decision is not to be taken lightly: the life of a dancer is a hard one, filled with strenuous work, long days, and a lonely social life. The exchange that follows pretty much sealed the deal for me:

"Dancers - they are not always respected. They often find it hard to marry."

Ilya fiddled with his lip. "That's not a problem, for me," he said.

While it's clearly geared toward younger readers, The Wolf Wilder is an enchanting fairy tale for those of all ages.

Read it: During the next snow storm; from the bottom of a dog pile; to your kids, no matter their age.

Profile Image for Kristen Peppercorn .
541 reviews96 followers
December 5, 2017

“Wolves are the witches of the animal world.”

God, I just love Katherine Rundell's writing. It's so beautiful and magical and other-worldly. She truly has a gift with words. She can transport the reader out of the mundane world and into a little slice of magic like no other. 5 billion stars.

This is now my second read of the year by this author and both have been 5 star reads for me. And if you know me, you'll know I'm kind of picky. I don't just toss out 5 stars like candy at a parade. A book really has to earn it from me. This book did not disappoint.

This was a simple, yet powerful little story about bravery and the power of friendship. It's set in snowy Russia and features some pretty adorable characters with a lot of personality and even more heart.

Even though it was written for children, the author keeps it real. She doesn't dumb it down for kids. In fact, there are even some pretty dark events that take place in this book. Expect to find a few drops of bright red blood in the pure white snowy landscape. Expect to love it even so.

Read this book. Or any of the author's other books. You owe it to yourself. You deserve it.
Profile Image for Fall-Out-Book-Nerd.
532 reviews55 followers
May 9, 2018
A unique and beautifully crafted story about family, friendship and bond between a young girl and her pack of wolves. Whilst being part of a Russian revolution.

Although I think the plot was at times a little odd, the magicalness of the writing made up for that and kept me gripped to the story.

Some parts were a little slow and a couple of the side characters seemed to be exactly the same, and they didn't have their own voice. Overall though, this was a good read and I would recommend it to younger reads who are looking for a little adventure.
Profile Image for steph.
211 reviews
November 29, 2016
In three words: warm, exquisite, enchanting.

"'Fear is as dangerous as hatred sometimes. Animals know that.'"

Challenge: #ColourMeReadChallenge

My first book of the year was Katherine Rundell's Rooftoppers, which I absolutely adored - it was magical and utterly charming, and it made me want to try more of her books. So, I put The Wolf Wilder on my list, and this has ended up being the book with which I completed my 2016 Goodreads reading challenge (my goal was 52 books)!

The Wolf Wilder is just as enchanting a book as Rooftoppers was. In this story (set in snowy Russia), a young girl named Feo learns how to be a 'wolf wilder' - someone who teaches tame wolves to be wild again - from her mother. Their existence is a happy and peaceful one, full of love and adventure (for wolves are unpredictable animals, yet loyal friends), until they cross paths with the Russian army and in particular the very nasty General Rakov. When Rakov arrests her mother, Feo embarks on a mission to get her back, accompanied by her faithful wolves.

I absolutely loved the characters. They were all so warm and charming in their own ways, from fierce, brave Feo, to her lovable friend Ilya and the bunch of children they encounter on their journey. The wolves as well were fantastic, each with their own personalities, and the bond they had with Feo was so lovely to read about.

Although I thought the pacing was good, it did feel like the book could have been a bit shorter. It felt longer than Rooftoppers, yet I think it actually has fewer pages...? However, I suppose some length was added because this one is a hardback edition and has illustrations by Gelrev Ongbico, which are stunning. Each is so hauntingly beautiful, with soft greys, blacks and whites, that really add an extra layer of magic to an already delightful story.

Recommended for: people who wish to read a heart-warming children's book that is also sure to delight adults with its exquisitely lovely writing.

Review also posted here.
Profile Image for Frosty61 .
829 reviews22 followers
April 8, 2021
A folk tale for upper elementary students who enjoy stories with an emphasis on relationships between wild animals and humans with good hearts. It's a little uneven and sometimes long on the silly dialogue, but still a fun tale about good vs. evil.
Profile Image for Nadea.
26 reviews36 followers
June 30, 2016
"we have the land in our blood and fire in our feet and we're coming to change our stories forever" it's a story about a girl with wolves for friends and knife for a hairpin. a girl who'd melt snow in her mouth to feed a pup, who'd go miles in the blind cold to get her mother back, who'd threaten to kill you and to pull your fingers out if you ever lay your unfriendly hand on the ones she loves - Black, White and Grey. "do you know the feeling when it's raining outside, but you have a fire? and you've got wolves licking your hands and trying to eat the rug? that's what happiness is" it's a story about family, friendship, loyalty, bravery, cruelty, revolution and justice. it'll make you feel the growl in your stomach, the fight in your heart, the sharpness in your eyes, the bite in your teeth. it'll make you smile and it'll make you proud and it'll make you cry and it made me cry, and it made me happy. it made me so very happy.

Profile Image for Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun).
314 reviews1,964 followers
September 7, 2017
As playful and delightful as Rooftoppers, but this one’s got a little more bite to it. It’s the story of Feo, a little Russian girl who lives in the woods with her mother, and whose family for generations has un-tamed wolves to turn them back into the wild. Rundell’s writing is just so consistently charming, interspersed with clever lines that made me laugh out loud:

“‘Mama says pointing a gun is a failure of imagination.’”
“Feo stared at him. Truly, she thought, boys were not as good as wolves.”
“Cowardice is for cowards. Fear is for people with brains and eyes and functioning nerve endings.”
“‘Run like wolves are after you!’
Feo refrained from pointing out that running, if wolves are after you, is more optimistic than useful.”

If I'm being nitpicky, I thought the first half was stronger than the second (things got a little cluttered). But overall, this is a winner for both children and adults.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,249 reviews393 followers
December 16, 2015
OK, let me say upfront that I really like Katherine Rundell's writing. This novel, set in the frozen woods of Russia, pits a mother (Marina) and her daughter (Feo) against a sociopathic general (Rakov), who steals and kills at the supposed behest of the Tsar. Mother and daughter work to return "domesticated" wolves to the wild when their inherent nature overcomes their training since killing wolves is bad luck. When Rakov starts persecuting them due to a slaughtered elk, Feo fights back, partially blinding the General, who imprisons the mother. Feo escapes with a few wolves, and starts planning the rescue of her mother. Befriended by a young soldier, together they find unexpected allies and mount a daring rescue. A little slow at times, this is about the human spirit, battling oppression, bonding with wild animals, and friendship. 4.25 stars.
Profile Image for Robin Stevens.
Author 49 books2,058 followers
March 15, 2015
A Faberge egg of a novel - rich, bright perfection. With all the elements of Russian fantasy, snow, wolves, ballet and gold, as well as Katherine Rundell's fierce, funny and uncompromising storytelling style, this really is a classic in the making.
Profile Image for madame Gabrielle.
573 reviews432 followers
November 30, 2021
une belle histoire bien bien appropriée à lire maintenant, en plein hiver et bien emmitouflé sous des couvertures. c’est une découverte Goodreads — pour moi, ce roman, et je n’ai pas été déçue. c’est beau, c’est l’amitié, c’est la reconnaissance et l’entraide et est un roman qui en vaut amplement la peine.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,651 followers
December 29, 2015
4.5 stars

I’d noted The Wolf Wilder for its beautiful covers. Both the UK and US covers are simply gorgeous. Despite my love of wolves and of beautiful covers, I hadn’t really marked the book down to actually read. As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows, I’m super picky about middle grade, so I’m rather hesitant to add them to my to-read list. When a copy of The Wolf Wilder showed up on my doorstep unsolicited, there was no doubt I would be giving this gorgeous book a try. And, you know, turns out The Wolf Wilder is beautiful both inside and out. I read it in one night because I couldn’t put it down.

As a title, The Wolf Wilder intrigued me. I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, and I hadn’t bothered to read the blurb, which is also my style. Wolf wilding was apparently a real thing in Russia. Turns out nobles would have wolves trained up as pets/toys/status symbols. However, when the wolf got too fat or injured someone, they would get rid of them. Luckily for the wolves, killing a wolf was considered bad luck, so they were sent to wolf wilders, who would teach them how to fend for themselves in the wild.

Feodora (though she’ll ignore you if you call her that—she only answers to Feo) and her mother are wolf wilders. Feo’s done all of her growing up with wolves as best friends. The rumors about them are that Feo’s half wild herself. Though that’s going a bit far, Feo does have a lot that’s wolfish in her way of thinking, which means that she’s fiercely loyal to her pack but very dangerous to those who mess with her pack.

Enter General Rakov, there to mess with her pack. The Tsar and/or Rakov are sick of the wolves in the area killing the Tsar’s animals. Rakov shows up one night threatening all sorts of terrible stuff if he catches Feo and her mom with another wolf; all wolves must be killed. Obviously, since Feo and her mom aren’t psychopaths, they don’t kill the next wolf to arrive, a sweet girl Feo dubs Tenderfoot. You can probably tell where this is heading.

The story alone is beautiful, but what brings it to the next level for me is the history. Learning about wolf wilding is awesome and man was that a profession in need of a novel if there ever was one. Even more, The Wolf Wilder is set in the waning period of Tsar Nicolas II’s reign. Without feeling remotely textbooky or infodumpy, there’s a lot of history laid out really subtly in The Wolf Wilder.

In Rakov, it’s clear that the Romanovs weren’t doing a good job running the country. Corruption was everywhere, and the common folk were suffering. In Alexei, the hope of the revolution is visible. It’s no wonder Lenin seemed like a hero when he spoke of something different for Russia. It’s really well done. I’d also not read much set in this era that wasn’t about the Romanovs themselves or high society, so The Wolf Wilder really does some wonderful and original stuff.

Obviously, I love the wolves a lot. Warning: some terrible stuff will happen to the wolves and they’re not all going to survive the book. It does hurt a lot. I think I’d be more mad about that if not for Feo’s relationship with them; they truly are her family and she views them as equals. I’m a big sucker for the love and trust between humans and other animals, so this really got me in my black heart.

The ending is a bit outlandish, but it’s done in such a way that I really want to believe in it. Certainly the kids are resourceful and clever. Plus, there’s a lot of incompetence in the system. That aside, I could not be more in love with Ilya’s dreams of becoming a ballet dancer.

I know I would have loved The Wolf Wilder just as much (or possibly more as a kid). It’s totally a book my dad would have read to me. It’s on the darker side of middle grade for sure, but I think it’s a great choice for kids and adults alike.
Profile Image for Beth Bonini.
1,280 reviews275 followers
February 3, 2016
Thoroughly immersed in the BBC's sumptuous production of War and Peace, I have been in the mood for all things Russian in the past few weeks. In my corner of England, we've yet to see snow -- but there is snow aplenty in Katherine Rundell's The Wolf Wilder. The main character, feral wolf-girl Feo, plays with snow, hides in it, feeds it to wolf cubs and uses it as a weapon.

This is Russian winter set approximately 100 years after Leo Tolstoy's epic novel. There are rumblings of revolution -- an ineffectual Tsar, decadent aristocrats and the cruel General Rakov who abuses his absolute power and serves as the novel's villain.

Unlike War and Peace, this fairy-tale-like story takes place in the wild and on the fringes. The three main characters -- Feo, Ilya and Alexei -- are a wolf wilder barely out of childhood (Feo), a young soldier who wants to be a dancer (Ilya) and a budding revolutionary (Alexei) who wants retribution for his burnt-out village. Not forgetting the wolves, of course. The wolves, like the children, still have enough wildness in them to resist brutal attempts at taming.

In this world, St. Petersburg aristocrats keep wolves as status-symbol house pets. But wolves can only be tamed to a point. The wolves are overfed and indulged until the day they rebel against their capricious masters and revert to their -- well, wolfish -- instincts. This is where Feo and her fierce mother Marina come in. They teach the wolves to be wild again; they return them to their rightful home and proud, fierce natures. While the adults in this world are terrified of harsh retribution -- with the exception of Marina, who has been jailed for her defiance -- the children are still wild and bold enough enough to fight against unfairness. Yes, the children show the adults the way . . . a time-honoured theme in children's literature.

Although there are hints of history, the book is more of an old-fashioned adventure story. Feo goes on a journey, which is both literal and figurative, making friends along the way. It ends with a triumphant storming of the city; although, inevitably, there are some sad losses along the way. Although it is probably a middle-grade book, according to the rules of judging these things, it has the ability to appeal to all ages. As C.S. Lewis so wisely said, "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."

If you care about the look and feel of books, do buy this one in the beautiful hard-cover edition. The combination of Rundell's spare, elegant words and Gelrev Ongbico's delicate, smoky illustrations is truly transporting. The mood is Russian winter, folklore and fairy tales and wood-cuts, in all of its dangerous beauty.

This review has also appeared on tracbook.blogspot.com
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