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The Wolf of Cape Fen

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  50 reviews
First Frost has touched Cape Fen, and that means Baron Dire has returned. For as long as anyone can remember, Baron Dire has haunted the town come winter, striking magical bargains and demanding unjust payment in return. The Serling sisters know better than to bargain, lest they find themselves hunted by the Baron’s companion, the Wolf.

Then the Wolf attacks Eliza's sister
Published April 7th 2020 by Sourcebooks Young Readers
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Lacee Yes! There's no cliffhanger. The story resolves itself completely, and no sequel currently planned

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Average rating 4.43  · 
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Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful debut about the unbreakable bond between sisters, magical bargains, and sacrificing for those you love. I was swept away by this tale of two sisters in a rainy, coastal, small town setting.

I was lucky to read this novel as an early draft and delighted to see its final, published form.
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful tribute to the magic of sisterhood. I absolutely loved it, and would recommend it to fans of Kelly Barnhill, Diana Wynn Jones, Corey Ann Haydu, and Pam Muñoz Ryan.
Diane Magras
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
Cape Fen is a popular holiday spot from which no resident can ever leave due to a generations-long curse. That's something the locals don't share, and adapt to the best they can. Baron Dire, grandson of the witch who began the curse, softens it with magical bargains that fulfill people's dreams…though there's always a catch of some kind. He and his Wolf, a terrifying beast, return every winter for this purpose. It's during the winter before her 12th birthday that Eliza finds her little sister Wi ...more
Lorelei Savaryn
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while, a story comes along that makes you want to slow down and savor it, to linger a while longer between its pages. This was one of those stories for me.

Eliza is a girl who doesn't dream, and whose entire existence is wrapped up in keeping her little sister Winnie safe. The relationship between the two sisters is both realistic and heartwarming, and you can feel Eliza's drive to protect Winnie pulling the story forward.

The magic of Cape Fen and the bargains with Baron Dire felt
I don't think I have ever read a book as good as this. It was AWESOME!!!!!! I don't know if I will be able to get into anything for a while because it was so good. I recommend this for everyone who likes a good middle grade book.
You can read my full review on my blog, The Bookwyrm's Den, here.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for Young Readers for a review copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Not gonna lie, that cover totally got me. And then the blurb, because who doesn’t love stories about siblings trying to save siblings? You won’t find any complaints from me!

The Wolf of Cape Fen is a heartwarming story of sibling bonds, the power of dreams, and the nature of curses with a sweeping mystery that
Elizabeth May
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-lit
I found the world of Cape Fen mysterious and charming. I thoroughly enjoyed the creative magic system -- the time period, the ocean, the bargaining system with Baron Dire that keeps residents on the Cape. The story was fresh and engaging and everything came together in a very satisfying and meaningful way at the book's conclusion that literally brought tears to my eyes.

I especially loved the relationship between the two sisters and how Eliza's fierce determination to protect her little sister p
Liz H {Redd's Reads}
I requested a review copy from the publisher, which they granted. Thanks Sourcebooks!

After reading this in one sitting, I'm not quite sure what I think of it. The writing is really quite good and I enjoyed the mystery interwoven with the magic. But the path of the story came out of left field for me and I don't know if I liked how things were explained. As a kid, which this is aimed at middle grade, I would not have liked this story at all. But I believe that to be more of a comment about my rea
Thank you to Sourcebooks for sending me a gorgeous finished copy a month before the release. This has not changed my review in any way.

I'll admit, I was a little scared to use my platform to review a middle grade book. I don't read a ton of them and I wasn't sure if I would love it or find it too shallow for a YA reader. This book is better than 90% of the YA books out there. Like... where did this come from? This is a debut novel coming from Juliana Brandt. It follows Cape Fen, an island that's
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The longer I sat on posting a review, the more I realized how much this story will stick with me and how much I enjoyed it. I would love to read another story set in Cape Fen! This story is magical, with sisterly love, aching hearts, atmosphere, layered characters, and suprising twists.
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-mt-bookpile
A town cut off from the rest of the world, kind of - the residents cannot leave, but visitors who are not there after First Frost can. There's something about wishes, or bargains, between residents and the Baron that Eliza wants to figure out, and how they tie into the Wolf and other strange events. Some of the mythology isn't as clear as it could have been, while Cape Fen itself treads the line between modern and something far older in a way that doesn't quite work. Still, I could see readers e ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Wolf of Cape Fen is rich in relationships and atmosphere. I loved reading about the characters and how they felt about one another, and watching them learn what it means to be a family or friends. Exploring the deep bonds between sisters, the fragile link of friendship, and the strange connection of community, this book provides a wealth of interesting dynamics.

As for atmosphere, who wouldn't want to walk along a moonlit beach with mysterious magic following you every step of the way? A ver
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Is it a murder mystery if no one has died yet?

For better or for worse, I’m a modernist at heart, which means that my first instincts are to figure out what kind of story I’m reading. I like to know how to categorize things. I like to think I’m self-aware enough that I can tell when stories can be chunked into multiple categories simultaneously, and I’m also self-aware enough to know that I don’t really know how open-minded I am. Probably not nearly as much as I think. I wonder which side of the
Jul 25, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is well-written and a decent story, but definitely is through and through for tweens. As an adult, I had more trouble engaging with this book than with stand out middle grade fictional tales such as Blackthorne's Key, The Night Gardener, or Small Spaces. Winnie is pretty exasperating for the first half of the novel. I understand she's young but she seems borderline moronic. Yes, she's cute sometimes but good grief I was ready to scream at her over the library door and that wasn't even ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it


This book had so much potential. I thought it was amazing when I started reading it. I enjoyed the author’s style of writing. It is lyrical, poetic, enchanting and magical. I just loved the way she framed her sentences and how the story progressed. I was engrossed because of the story’s atmospheric theme and felt it was different for a middle grade novel.

However, my perception of the story changed at the end. I am not giving away any spoilers, but the ending was disap
Sarah Yung
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this debut, though it took a bit for me to become invested. Definitely appreciated each chapter's dream headings, though.

Brandt employs a lyrical style that fits the folkloric atmosphere:
“Her sister smelled of the night sky. Of stars and the moon and the sort of darkness that birthed dreams.”
“Her eyes the same shade of black as the silent witching hour her mother used to speak of: It’s the most wondrous time of the night, when the best dreams are brewed. Careful of it, Eliza.

Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Magical wishes are granted in Cape Fen, but at what cost? You must be willing to bargain with the powerful Baron Dire...if you dare! THE WOLF OF CAPE FEN by Juliana Brandt is a gripping fantasy full of vivid imagery and stunning lyrical prose that had me guessing until the very end. Just when I thought I had finally put “two and two together,” Juliana Brandt throws another wrench (in the best possible way, of course) into her mystery and I’m trying to do the math all over again. Eliza is a force ...more
Melanie Dulaney
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Eliza and Winnie live with their dad in the beautiful seaside town of Cape Fen. All is not well in the idyllic setting, however. Winter’s first frost brings a dark magician and his blood-thirsty wolf, sleep is hard to reach and residents are freakishly trapped and may never leave the town’s boundaries unless they dare bargain with magician Baron Dire. Bargains with the Baron never seem to work out as hoped and the book centers on the ways that such deals have caused harm and the mystery surround ...more
Lynn Wynn
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There’s something happening here,
What it is ain’t exactly clear...

As a retired elementary school librarian, I have read and enjoyed my share of middle grade fantasy novels, but it had been a few years since I’d opened one. This book was a wonderful discovery.

Setting—a place similar to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, a little apart from the rest of the world. Insular. Contained. Controlled. Closed off.

I’ve decided I’m not going to summarize the story, neither am I going to send out a spoiler. You m
Ash Otterloo
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Juliana Brandt has a gift for writing mesmerizing contradictions: a world that's both unsettling and cozy, writing that's both dreamy and grounded, in a world that feels deeply familiar and completely strange. I was sucked into this tale of the fierce love between sisters from the first page, and completely enthralled all the way to the end. I'll definitely be reaching for it again, both as a comfort-read, and for stout doses of escapism and heartfelt courage.

The Wolf of Cape Fen is wholly uni
Angela Shores
I was on the edge of my seat for near the entirety of this story! Eliza immediately grabs your heart with her fiercely protective love for her little sister, Winnie. The two are caught up in the magic of Cape Fen at the hands of another and Eliza is determined to keep her sister from the consequences of it. What would you do for family? This is a marvelous tale of friendship and family with a bit of magic sprinkled in and most healthy dose of suspense.
Konstantinos S Kalofonos
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
This book is fantastic for Middle Grade readers on up to Adults! I enjoyed every page and recommend it for anyone looking for something new and different. It's like a modern seaside fairy tale only that doesn't do it justice. You have magic, family, intrigue, a completely relatable cast where each voice is different. The main character jumps off the page and into life. And if my own word isn't good enough, I've been reading it to my 8-yr-old daughter and she loves it too.
Christiana Doucette
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
Bargaining with moon magic never ends the way a bargainer expects. In the Wolf of Cape Fen Baron Dire is the feared purveyor of magical bargains. When Eliza's little sister becomes the object of the Baron's magic wolf's attention she realizes someone must have bargained with her sister's life, and she'll do anything to save her.

This story is gorgeously written, and pulls you headlong into it's spell-binding plot.
George Jreije
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want to vacation in Cape Fen! I can't remember the kids book transported me to another time like The Wolf of Cape Fen. It was like vacationing, except with spooky vibes as the wolf lurked about. I was gripping my book so hard at times my knuckles got white, and the twists and turns made it IMPOSSIBLE to put down, not to mention the heartwarming ending. This was an amazing read I'd recommend to kids of all ages!
Travis Hasenour
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! The magic is beautifully woven into the lives of the townsfolk, so subtle with sometimes dire consequences. I was on edge as Eliza dove deeper into the mysteries of Baron Dire's magic—what Eliza uncovers kept me in a constant state of awe.

Historical, 1900s cape setting; a monstrous wolf; moving family relationships; a mysterious and complex antagonist; lyrical prose; and a magic as cold and quiet as snow. This book is worth reading twice.
Kaela Rivera
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-lit
THE WOLF OF CAPE FEN is a story that give you shivers and thrilled smiles all at once. The writing itself is powerful, subtle, with a lyrical touch that creates the foundation of its wonderful world-building and in-depth characters. Definitely a must read, and I highly recommended it to parents and teachers for the fantasy fan in their life. They won't be disappointed!
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A completely original story that isn't just about two sisters but an entire town's destiny. The author balances the slow pace of the story with detailed imagery. The various sometimes anonymous dream descriptions above each chapter adds to the air of mystery. As the reader you'll find yourself questioning who the true villain of the story is. Ages 10 and up.
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Thanks to Sourcebooks for the advance copy.

A solid magical story, with the real heart being Eliza’s love for her sister and war with herself. Compelling relationships among the characters but I struggled to really understand the magical world they inhabited. I definitely got the main aspects but there was just some confusion around the edges that kept me from being fully absorbed.
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fans of Frances Hardinge and Diana Wynne Jones will love this tale of magic and dreams and the unbreakable bond of two sisters. The gorgeous setting and imagery will capture your heart and surround you with the turbulence of dreams and frighten you with the lure of what we desire most. You won't be able to put it down.
Deli Stryker
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
A drag to read. The words never pulled me in. Maybe the story takes itself too seriously.

Didn't connect with Eliza. Didn't care for the sisters. The bargaining and dreams were too abstract, and I didn't care enough to try to comprehend the concept. The book design and chapter art are nice, though.
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