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Wilderwood #1

For the Wolf

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2021)
The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose—to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he'll return the world's captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can't control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can't hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn't learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood—and her world—whole.

The author has provided a list of content warnings here.

437 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2021

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About the author

Hannah F. Whitten

6 books2,503 followers
Hannah Whitten has been writing to amuse herself since she could hold a pen, and sometime in high school, figured out that what amused her might also amuse others. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, making music, or attempting to bake. She lives in Tennessee with her husband and children in a house ruled by a temperamental cat.

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5 stars
8,334 (20%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,206 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
November 26, 2022
a woodsy, magical folk retelling of ‘beauty and the beast.’ which is surprising because, based on the title, cover, and the MCs name, i totally expected this to be inspired by ‘little red riding hood.’ go figure. lol.

and while im never one to turn away from a ‘beauty and the beast’ story, this wasnt quite for me and i think its because it has some pretty terrible world-building. yes, the concept of the wilderwood is interesting, not exactly unique, but it suits the story. however, i know nothing about it. the narrative creates more questions than it provides answers and its very frustrating. even after 400+ pages, im still not sure what created the wilderwood, why the wolf is bound to it, the difference between his magic and his blood, and what the deal with the five kings is. theres just so much and never any clear explanation. it kind of gave me the impression that the author didnt know where she was going with it. she just wanted a magical wood but wasnt sure how to explain the magic system and/or build around it.

even though i found the world-building to be confusing, at the heart, this is your classic ‘beauty and the beast’ retelling. totally fine. not really anything more in terms of plot, which i didnt mind since i love the original story so much. i just wish the haphazard world-building hadnt detracted from that.

3 stars
Profile Image for Robin.
327 reviews1,835 followers
July 3, 2021
↠ 4.5 stars

The first daughter is for the throne. The second is for the wolf. All her life Redarys has known that as the kingdom’s second daughter her sole purpose is to be sacrificed to the Wilderwood and the Wolf keeping its gods captive. Though her sister Neve rages against her fate, Red has accepted it, plagued by an unknown power and determined to never hurt those close to her again. As the only second daughter born in centuries, Red has all the more reason to go, but when the day arrives and she feels the woods pulling her forward, she finds that the legends she’s been told are not entirely true. For one, the protection offered by the Wilderwoods is weakening, and the Wolf is just a man as much of a captive as she is. Red is exactly what the woods have been waiting for, and her power is the key to set them free. That is if Red can learn to control it before the forest weakens and the gods overtake it and destroy her world for good.

Well, there's nothing quite like one of your most anticipated reads of the summer being just as good as you had hoped. Boy have I been loving this trend of cursed forests, crumbling estates, and wolves, and this dark fantasy debut blended those perfectly. For the Wolf is a novel shrouded in political turmoil and rooted in folklore, an extraordinary story that had me feeling caught right from the start and did not relent until right at the very end. Don’t even get me started on the slow-burn romance, it’s all-consuming and underlying tension had me aching for more, while at the same time begging for respite. Brooding monster boyfriends really are the move what else can I say. Eammon is everything to me. Besides the romance, the exploration of sisterhood and sacrifice was by far the most compelling part of the novel. I loved the complicated familial relationships and dynamics examined on par with everything else that was going on — Specifically, the points of view for Red and the interludes for her sister Neve, which contrasted nicely against the plot development. Neve’s perspective was easily the most interesting to me as it provided a nice break from Red’s point of view and was beyond entertaining. Not that it at all prepared me for the third act, which hit me like a truck coming out of nowhere. All that's left to do now is wait for the second and final book in the series: For the Throne, coming out next July. I'll just be over here screaming about this book in the meantime. In her haunting fantasy debut inspired by Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast, Hannah Whitten has carved out her place in adult fantasy, with rich prose and detailed imagery that makes no apologies. Comparing this to Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale is certainly appropriate, and there is no doubt that readers who enjoyed both will be desperate to sink their teeth into this amazing story. Honestly, after reading this I want nothing other than to disappear into a cursed forest and explore ruined castles for hours. Applications are open for those interested in joining me.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger warnings: death, violence, gore, blood, anxiety/panic attacks, self-harm
Profile Image for Sofia.
231 reviews6,971 followers
July 13, 2021
The Wolf smells like a library.
I repeat, Eammon smells like a library.

This is a hard book to rate. I'm not at all attached to For the Wolf, but at the same time, I loved the creepiness of the Wilderwood, the way some of the characters slowly went mad, and the atmosphere of Eammon's house.

For the Wolf follows Red, the Second Daughter, who is sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wilderwood. The people of Valleyda are hoping that in return, the Wolf will release the Kings. The problem? The Wolf is just a man, and there's more going on in the wood than anyone suspects.

Eammon, the Wolf, made this book a lot better. He's so selfless and caring. He knows what needs to be done, and he will sacrifice himself to protect others. He's haunted by the past, but he isn't an annoying brooding "I have a tragic past which excuses all my actions in the present." He is aware of Red and makes sure she's safe.

"You know what happens to heroes, Wolf-pup?" The thing reared back, no longer trying at human shapes, just a lick of darkness studded in bones and twigs. "They die."

I loved the themes of the dangers of religion and obsession. Neve's descent into madness was so interesting to watch. The way the people of Valleyda were brainwashed by religion was frightening. Both of these arcs were so interesting.

I didn't like the random visions characters had that conveniently told them when someone was in trouble. There wasn't really a good explanation. Also, Valleyda wasn't developed. I wanted to see more of the village and the culture. However, this may have been good for the book. The mystery around Valleyda was intriguing. I'm not taking off any stars because of the lack of any worldbuilding because I'm not entirely sure whether worldbuilding would have helped the book or not.

Overall, this book didn't have the spark I was looking for, but it's a solid story about two sisters separated by a forest that's alive.

3.5 stars

Red was a warped puzzle piece, her changes nearly too subtle to see, but enough to keep her from fitting back into the place she'd left.

Disclaimer: Please don't read this book if you're sensitive to scenes where the characters cut themselves. They access magic through their blood, and this may be triggering for some readers.

lilithsaur on Twitter:
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 25, 2021
All of them loved like burning, no thought for the ashes.

this is me, being thrown to the wolves.

we know wolves are tricksy creatures—those big baddies huffing and puffing and salivating in your granny's jammies, tucked in her bed and ready to wolf you down. we know what to expect from wolves, and so we avoid them. but even tricksier are the wolves in the sheep's clothing of deceptive cover design; the marketing campaigns who cry wolf dark fantasy, making you think you're gonna get a tooth-baring rework of little riding hood only to reveal it’s really beauty and the botanical-beast under that red cloak, all the better to deceive you with, my dears.

let's make one thing perfectly clear—this is not dark fantasy. this is romantic fantasy. and i do not like romantic fantasy.

this review will reflect my displeasure, but if YOU like romantic fantasy, you'll enjoy this book more than my review.

redarys (red for short) and her twin sister neverah (neve) have grown up knowing what fate has in store for them: neve, the firstborn, will eventually ascend to the throne, while red, as the second daughter, is destined ‘for the wolf,’ which means when she turns twenty and a special mark appears on her arm, she will be brought to the wilderwoods as an offering to the mysterious wolf, in the hopes that he will be so pleased with this sacrifice that he will release the five kings, who have been imprisoned within the wilderwood since olden times. it's all very shrouded in mystery, since it's been hundreds of years since a second daughter has existed to be sacrificed, and no one ever came back from the woods, daughters or kings or etc, but traditions are traditions and must be upheld.

from the synopsis, we know that nothing is as advertised:

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn't learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood—and her world—whole.

and that’s all true, but what the synopsis doesn’t tell you is that the reason red doesn’t know how to use her magic is because the wolf, the man—eammon, as it happens—is not particularly forthcoming about explaining her role in any of this—the nature of her responsibilities or her purpose now that she's essentially trapped in the woods with him.

since she can't go back home, red drifts aimlessly through her days, occasionally assisting eammon in his efforts to maintain the balance of the wilderwoods, but in a limited capacity due to all the withheld information. there are other people living on this side of the woods, all equally perplexed by his decision to keep her from fulfilling her duty, and with nothing to do, the story gets dull and repetitive and obscure because eammon’s not giving her any guidance or agency, so it’s no wonder, really, that she spends most of her time just staring at his eyes and his throat and his hands, describing his features and mannerisms over and over, to the extent that while we don't understand the magic of the world or the importance of the kings, boy do we know how eammon's hair curls and how he smells. spoiler alert: he smells like a library. which, here, doesn't mean that he smells like the BO and dust of an actual library, but that he smells like paper. paper and coffee and the cinnamon smell of leaves, whatever that means.

meanwhile, we have neve's storyline back home, in which she is ALSO told “things are not how you thoooooought,” but given a THIRD explanation slash half-articulated course of action by a different cadre of agenda-concealing parties, whose actions are seesawing the balance away from whatever eammon's doing from inside the wilderwoods.

and it’s all too much. too much to keep straight, not knowing what’s true and what’s manipulation and what's the math on how many half-truths equal one reasonable explanation?

red's side of the story is boring. for at least two-thirds of the book she has no idea what she's doing; she'll stumble into something and it'll seem like a reasonable time for an explanation to be forthcoming, but then it will retreat back into meaningful looks and innuendo and careful not-telling and there's only so much snorting and sighing and amber eyes ringed with green a reader can take before wanting something a little more...substantive.

it has everything i don't like about romance—it's swollen with blasons repetitively inventorying every part of the love interest's physical self, and so much of it is exaggerated and cartoony, like everyone's afflicted with tardive dyskinesia: eyes are always widening, hands are always spasming, breathing is always ragged or hitching, voices are always hoarse, smiles are always quirked, brows are always arched, fingers are always crooking, backs are always arching, throats are always working—it's a goofy parade of twitching tics like nicolas cage at a wall street coke party in the 80s, and it's all so contrived and uninspired it bums me out.

actually, forget mr. cage—toss a pacifier and some adidas in the mix and this reads exactly like a couple leaving a rave at 6 am coming down offa their ecstasy high:

Still, Eammon paused next to her, a muscle feathering in his jaw, a swallow working down his throat. Pain carved lines beside his mouth and made his shoulders stiff—the roots knotted around his spine tightening, pulling him back toward the gloom of his forest. It might let him go, on its northern border, but it wouldn't let him forget where he belonged.

Her lip worked between her teeth.

it's hard for me to accept as a romantic figure some guy who won't give a girl a straight answer.

"I don't know if you're trying to protect me, or if you just don't want to bother telling me anything." Her hands curled and released, loose fists that held nothing. "But I can only help you as much as you let me, Eammon."

that is on page TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE. we are 165 pages from the end of the book and our heroine is still in the dark. every time we're close to getting an explanation of How This Works, it's buried in unnecessary, unearned sexual tension:

"In order to keep the Shadowlands from leaking through—in order to keep the wall strong—we have to put the sentinels back where they're supposed to be. When we heal them, they return to their place."

"So how do we heal them?"

"Directing magic to drive back the rot."

"Through touch, I assume." She didn't know why it came out so low, so hoarse.

Eammon's shoulders went rigid, his own answer graveled. "Yes."

okay, but what about them sentinels, though? so, sometimes they're healed by magic and sometimes by blood? can you speak more about these shadowlands and shadow-rot and kings and why you're all full of plants inside? we get that you're hot for each other and resisting it, but can we get a little more clarity about anything else? it's confusing and also unhygienic—the magic of keeping the evil at bay involves eammon and red cutting themselves; slicing their hands and grinding their lacerations in the dirt because magic, but what about the magic of infection? so much time is spent rhapsodizing over eammon's scarred hands and how their rough texture feels against red's softgirl skin, but maybe if you care about someone, you sacrifice your scar-fetish and offer them some antiseptic ointment or cream for their filthy bleeding wounds?

the romance is just...dumb. childish.

"I dug through the storerooms and found an old pair you can have. I left them by the fireplace." He glanced over his shoulder, brow quirked, then faced the tower again. "They won't fit, but that didn't stop you with my shirt."

"It was too cold to be naked."

He didn't turn, but his hand spasmed by his side, and he made a choked noise. Behind him, Red grinned.

it's hard to comprehend how this centuries-old being is completely undone by some cheesy flirtatious sass, yet he's always blushing and flushing and stammering, color flaring across his cheekbones &yadda.

i mean, the whole thing is basically a virginity metaphor—red is filled with this powerful dangerous magic (passion) that she doesn't understand, that she suppresses every time it tries to come out of her, lest it consume her and blah blah restraint until this man (eventually) shows her how to use it but oh no consequences and cannot-be's and yearning and blah.

and i could have overlooked a lot of this if the rest of the story was scary or dark or...lucid. it's really confusing; there are too many variables to this structure, too many conflicting mythologies underlying the wildwood, and it gets muddled as fuck.

that's another thing. there's fantasy-realm-specific swearwords, where characters cuss by saying, "kings" or "shadows," but they also say "fuck" and "shit," and sometimes combine them, i.e.: "Kings on shitting horses." it is so perplexing. what is this world???

having said all that, and complained so much, i am still likely to read the sequel, because the one-chapter teaser offered at the end of this book is focused on neve, whose situation at the end of this book is a much more compelling scenario than anything happening with red.

i didn't much like this one because my tastes are incompatible with the genre. i'm giving it a low-three because it's not the book's fault that i get impatient with romantic tropes and how much time is spent resisting and dillydallying before the inevitable romance-stuff occurs.

but i understand that the slow-burning 'will they or won't they?' tension is appealing to readers who crave the deliciously drawn out tease of a love story.

here's your self-test. do you like this, yes or no?

"It's far more complicated than that, Redarys." Eammon's eyes were stern. "Chasing the shadow-rot out of a person is dangerous. It takes more power than I have anymore—"

"But you aren't doing it alone." Red shook her head. "You don't have to do everything alone, Eammon."

His mouth was a tight line, hair shadowing his eyes. There was something waiting in the space between them, something vast and terrifying, but it narrowed down to this: the itch in her fingers to smooth along his jaw. The certainty that her palm would never feel right again unless it swept his hair off his forehead.

Red dropped her eyes; his were suddenly too much for her. "Let me help you, and we can help Bormain. We can at least speak with Valdrek about it."

He searched her face, lips slightly parted, as if looking for something he was both eager and terrified to find. Then he turned sharply, headed for the other side of the square. "Have it your way, Lady Wolf."

if yes, read this book!
if no, read a different book!
it's the easiest decision of all time!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Andi.
1,235 reviews
June 29, 2021
To compare this book to Bear and the Nightingale is like comparing Barney's Grand Adventure to Citizen Kane.

God, what a trip.


I'd like to thank Edelweiss and Orbit for allowing me to read this book.

I had seen this book being compared to Bear and the Nightingale and was like, 'hey, I enjoyed that book, it was well crafted, filled with Russian folklore and research, and I wasn't bored'. So I requested it, thinking that it was good, then some friends of mine said I should probably abort my mission. So, I took it off my 'to-read' list. I was accepted for the review and I knew I had to read it.

What you got with this book is a 400+ page slog of confusion and riddles. Then, when things start making sense, you look back on what you read and go: 'why did I bother, why did they (the characters) bother?'

Our hero? Red? Like some other reviews pointed out, she is pretty annoying. I also dislike (excuse me, get annoyed) when an author writes a character that attempts to be strong-minded but then does a 180 at the meeting of a boy. A very stubborn, stupid, emo-looking boy.

The writing, as I put out, is a mess. There is repeated actions EVERYWHERE. If this makes it past an editor, and into final print, I will be concerned. (edit: It did, LOL) Characters 'lounge on doorways' far too often ; characters 'rub their hand/s over their face' far too often, Red thinks a thought she already thought about, again, far too often.

Eammon is the wolf. You see, wolf is another word for 'warden'. People think a big, scary wolf is in the forest but in all honesty there is no wolf. Just a boy pretending to be a wolf or acting like one by snarling and letting his hair hang loose.

The plot is this:

There was this evil. The evil was locked away in a forest. Five kings decided to use their magic to seal the evil in. They planted / grew / magick'ed this white trees that act as a fence so no evil gets in and no evil gets out. The kings however accidentally get trapped inside. Because this takes place centuries before (in the past), our main hero's fam and the rest of the world thinks these kings are 'gods' and they to return. Why do they need to return? It's not really explained. What does the world gain if they returned? Not really explained either? What is the point of these kings? We don't know. BUT: People remember them... there is a strange religious cult that worships these kings? ... Why does this cult exist if we don't know what the point of these kings returning will do? We can go round and round about all this. The literal bones, the point of the story, is sacrificed for the plain, boring, love story.

The second daughter gets sacrificed, meets 'The Wolf', finds out its a human boy who has nothing to do with the kings (as she was mislead all these years). She stays because she wants the kings to return and she wants to return home. So, she decides to help Eammon) to harness magic to restore the balance and get the kings to escape.

Cue PAGES, CHAPTERS, ENDLESS and pointless bickering about staying put and not helping, to helping and getting hurt, healing and falling in love, to repeating the same process... over and over again.

Again I ask: what is the point behind these kings? What is the point of them having magic? Why do they have magic? What are they supposed to do? We don't know! Do we ever see the kings? Well, we see one of them? Do we ever find out more about the crazy religious cult? Yes and no.

I'm just so frustrated with this book because you have a really interesting twist on the Red-Riding Hood story, or Beauty and the Beast?... but you get this half baked world with half baked lore and confusing magic.

Okay. Lets talk about the magic. Lets talk about how I didn't understand why there was such a struggle and why in the world there was some kind of fear of allowing the magic to change them (Red and Eammon) and or ride it's course. Clearly I saw through the whole story that if they both split the magic that's what the wood seemed to want and they were going to be okay. But, the previous centuries of girls I guess didn't split the magic or try to split the magic (or marry the Wolf) so they died and their bones rotted in the forest. I still don't understand the whole blood sacrifice and what not going on.

It's just a lot going on in this story that is plodded for the sake of romance. You could cut out a lot and you would miss nothing. There was a whole segment about going into town that honestly could have happened anywhere else or to anyone else, but it was put in there for the sake of showing that there was other people trapped in the woods with them but hey, they're pretty cool with it and made their own little city. (As one of the comments pointed out, this community would have inbred people...)

Into the Woods, out of the Woods, home before dark... I just kept singing Into the Woods in my head but the lyrics to the Forbidden Broadway version popped in there. At least Into the Woods had a stronger story that dealt with the consequences of wishing and the darker side of fairy-tales.

Just be pretty careful jumping into this book. If you're coming for a broody dumb emo boy, you got it, tons of it. If you're coming for a plot? No, you don't got that.
Profile Image for Ellie.
578 reviews2,200 followers
Want to read
January 20, 2021
I've been waiting (im)patiently for this to get published AND IT FINALLY IS REJOICE GOTHIC AND MONSTER BOYFRIENDS AND WEIRD WOODSY STANS

also it's adult fantasy not YA literally begging some of you to realise not every fantasy written by a woman is YA
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,616 reviews10.7k followers
December 8, 2022
The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

As the second daughter to the Queen, Red has always known her fate. While her sister will inherit the throne, Red will be sacrificed to the Wilderwood and the monster within.

In her kingdom it is believed that the Wolf of the Wood has the ability to release the world's captured Gods, and that with Red's sacrifice, he may choose to do that. Thus, Red could essentially be the savior of the world.

It's never worked before, but now could be the time.

Red doesn't know about all that, but she is hiding a mysterious gift that is quite dangerous. Because of this, she is ready and willing to go, if only to protect her friends and family from the magic that lies within her.

Upon entering the Wilderwood, Red quickly discovers it isn't at all what she expected. Sure, it's dangerous, but she was planning on instant death. Not so much.

Also, the Wolf, he's no beast, as she expected. He's just a man who lives in a castle, has an incredible library, two humorous roommates, a magical mirror and needs some help.

Is this starting to sound like anyone you know?

For some reason going into this, I expected a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, but it's straight-up, Beauty and the Beast. My favorite fairy tale of all time. I smiled every time I discovered another connection.

This is wildly creative. I loved the entire atmosphere of the Wilderwood and the Wolf's castle. It's dark, dank, murky and dangerous. The root magic, or earth magic, that Red and the Wolf had is quite captivating. I really enjoyed that aspect.

Red and the Wolf's slow burn romance was also enjoyable, although when I say slow, I mean SLOW.

For me, it dragged on too long. I almost feel like this could have been broken up into two books. While I liked all of the content, it failed to keep me entirely engaged. I was constantly checking to see how many pages I had left.

However, it's good. It is a well thought out story with some great world creation, so please do not let my one small grievance affect whether or not you pick this book up.

In fact, please pick this book up. I want to hear your thoughts! If you enjoy Fantasy with interesting magic systems, you could end up loving this. Particularly if you are a fan of slow-burn romance.

I am absolutely planning to continue on with this story. There's some complicated political maneuverings occuring, as well as intense family drama, so I can't wait to see how that plays out.

Looking forward to it!
May 20, 2021

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DNF @ p.90

I actually hated this a lot. It's written in the same generic sort of style that a lot of YA is, so if you like the usual line-up of edgy-lite authors-- Renee Ahdieh, Sarah J. Maas, Emily A. Duncan-- you'll enjoy this. I loved the premise and was envisioning something like BONE HOUSES or SABRIEL but this was not that, and if you're expecting that, too, you'll be disappointed like I was. I'm going to donate my copy to a teacher friend for her high school students, who I think will enjoy this more than I did.

Thanks to Brigid for reading this with me.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

1 star
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,021 reviews97 followers
June 1, 2021
My review may contain a mild spoiler.

Red’s fate has been known since before she was born.

The First Daughter is for the throne.
The Second Daughter is for the Wolf.
And the Wolves are for the Wilderwood.

After all, Red (Redarys) is the second daughter, and her older sister (Neve) is the queen. Red is prepared to fulfill her destiny and wishes to be away from those she loves because of the dangerous dark magic within her, which continues to change. However, losing Red isn’t something Neve is willing to accept.

Once Red is sent into the forest, she realizes she’s been misinformed about many things throughout her life, including the wolf she’s destined to be given to. Red’s power is needed more than anything to save the Wilderwood. Time is of the essence, and she must try to find a way to control her powers before everything is destroyed. With great hope, Red will be the one to free the Five Kings once and for all.

What I liked: The premise had me captivated. The writing is descriptive and beautiful throughout, making this story extremely atmospheric. I loved the imagery in the story and the way the author wrote in elements from multiple fairy tales, not just from “Little Red Riding Hood” but also “Beauty and the Beast” and "Snow White." It makes this retelling refreshingly unique. I always appreciate strong family themes, and that was a big part of this story with how these sisters love one another unconditionally. When siblings are willing to do whatever they need to protect one another, it always grabs me. The book has other favorite themes of love and sacrifice as well. There was also the perfect amount of romance with a super-slow build between Red and Eammon. Waiting for that development was almost hard to deal with at times. The ending was written well without a cliffhanger and leaves you anticipating the second book.

The main character, Red, was my absolute favorite. She has all the qualities I love--bravery, determination, strength, and she’s a caring individual who wants to do what’s right. She’s willing to sacrifice herself for the good of others. Her family is important to her, and she holds those that she loves close. Like Belle in "Beauty and the Beast," Red loves to read. Her introduction to the magnificent library was one of my favorite parts of the book. Neve (Red’s sister) also had her own perspective in the story, which was interesting, even though it wasn't as frequent.

What I didn't like: Sometimes the writing was too detailed, and the story felt like it was dragging along. This is strictly a personal issue for me only when I'm not in the mood for a slower-paced story. Some extras didn’t seem necessary though, and it made me think that maybe this story could've been condensed. I had issues connecting with some of the characters too. With that said, there wasn’t anything I hated about this book.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I’m excited to read the second book. If you like dark fantasy and retellings, definitely give this one a try.


You can also see this review @www.readrantrockandroll.com

I'd like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for sharing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
851 reviews3,882 followers
July 21, 2021
Listen, I can handle confusion —I mean, I did like Gideon the Ninth a lot, didn't I? I can overcome slow beginnings if the payout is worth it. I love romantic fantasy. But I can't do this.

I don't have it in me to withstand pages and pages and pages and pages of character withholding crucial information because of reasons, not when it makes the whole story so damn boring. I love slow-burns, I really do love them, but it's all a bit idiotic at this point? The world-building is messy, and why Red would rather bleed herself than learning how to use her magic is truly beyond me—and I mean TRULY, wtf girl??? I just don't care enough about any other character to get going, not when I've been struggling since page one. So at this point, I really couldn't care less if the end is worth it, because it's so damn long to get there. I'm out.

DNF on page 136.
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
410 reviews915 followers
August 10, 2023
All of them loved like burning, no thought for the ashes.

Hannah F Whitten is amazing at hanging out in gray spaces and making them interesting. There are no wholly good or bad entities in For the Wolf. No one is inherently evil—just empty, hungry for something, usually something that can be soothed through love. This kind of nuanced world- and character-building sets you up for a fascinating story.

This post sums it up so well:

Let me just mention what this story is not, because I had some false expectations going in:
- It’s not spicy; kissing only.
- It’s not a Red Riding Hood retelling, no matter what the cover tells you. If anything, it’s actually closer to Beauty and the Beast.
- It’s not a monster romance nor a villain romance; the love interest is withdrawn and pessimistic but ultimately human-looking and a softie at heart.

The Second Daughter is for the Wolf.

For the Wolf is a dystopian love story and coming of age story with strong fairytale vibes. The book follows Red for the most part, who is sent into a dangerous forest as a sacrifice but finds that she is actually meant to save the forest and its inhabitants with the power in her blood.

The First Daughter is for the Throne.

Red’s older sister, Neve, is also featured in a few POVs; she will be the main character of book 2, in which she falls in love with book 1’s villain. (I’m super excited for that.)
Profile Image for myo ⋆。˚ ❀ *.
823 reviews6,888 followers
June 12, 2021
this read more like a beauty and the beast retelling than it did little red riding hood, it had its similarities to little red riding hood but the whole “being sent away to live with a beast who doesn’t like people but ends up falling for you” thing is pretty much this entire book. i liked the book in the first few pages but once she went to go live with the wolf i was a bit bored. i also found their relationship a bit boring as well. i really wished i liked it more but i’ll definitely will be reading the sequel.
Profile Image for Southern Lady Reads.
446 reviews608 followers
March 20, 2023
I wanted to love this series so badly - but something about it just didn't work for me. I kept expecting that Beauty & The Beast style story, and while it was there layered under different elements, I was too distracted by other plot elements to really enjoy this retelling.

- The writing is actually very good, but I think because it's more of a new adult novel and the main characters are both so young.. it felt a little too juvenile. The character building focused so much on angst and not enough on building and allowing the characters to grow until the end.

- There's another book, and I probably won't read that now but I think I may give this one a try again in the future? Right now, it just didn't feel right. I created a 'needs a do over' shelf for books like this that I think I'll come back to one day!! My mood may not have made this one an easy read.
-------- There's a lot of symbolism in the way religion, sacrifice, and martyrdom are presented in 'For the Wolf' and I don't know that I agree with some of the messaging present.

**Totally random, but I love the paperback version of this book with its jagged edge-cut pages, and the cover is gorgeous!
Profile Image for Jessica.
21 reviews42 followers
May 22, 2020
i love this book so much that i want to eat it
Profile Image for Madison.
652 reviews364 followers
December 22, 2021
Beauty and the Beast retellings are the bread and butter of the romantic fantasy world. I think it’s partially because we as a society have come to anticipate rude, brooding, “bad boy with a heart of gold”-style romantic interests opposite sassy, capable heroines who don’t take crap. The Beauty/Beast narrative is tailor-made for that kind of dynamic. Unfortunately, it seems like Whitten conceptually understands this but can't quite pull the threads together.

There are two core issues with For the Wolf. The biggest is that the magic system is extraordinarily convoluted. I was 90% of the way through the book and there were STILL new elements of magic being explained to me. When this happens, it feels like the author is just tacking on convenient new features in order to move her narrative along, and it doesn't feel natural to the characters. The action, what little of it there is, is repetitive and nonsensical; a character goes into the woods, a shadow creature appears, and someone pours some blood on it to make it go away. Magic comes from blood, but also some people can just do it, and also there are special trees that appear in the house at random, and can give people magic...it's a dizzying array of concepts that are under-explained and also do nothing to create a compelling story. We get no real movement in the plot whatsoever until the very end of the book, at which point I was tired and ready for it to end.

The other problem is also a huge one: the characters are relentlessly flat. Red is the quintessential avatar for the reader; she has very little personality and is barely described physically beyond "white" and "blonde," and by the 25% mark her mind is mostly consumed with lust for the constantly over-described love interest. There are a few other characters besides these two, but they mostly fall into thin tropes like "evil conniving priestess" and "jilted former lover." The Beast--I mean, the Wolf--has two friends who live in his castle, but they get very little screen time until the very end, when we're suddenly supposed to care about them. The evil priestess was particularly annoying, because she's described repeatedly as "mad" without any indication of why she is trying to destroy society. It's honestly an ableist and demeaning approach to an antagonist.

One last thing on the characters: I honestly didn't despise the romance. It's exactly what you'd expect out of a story like this. One thing that did make me laugh in a not-good way is that early on in the story, the two main characters have to get married (for...reasons?) and suddenly their magic is connected/they're attuned to each other/they've got a Cosmic Bond that brings them closer. There's this emphasis on the spiritual, magical weight of capital-M Marriage that feels hokey and fundamentalist and, uh, heterosexual, and I didn't vibe with it at all.

Any modern retelling of this fairy tale is going to get compared to the ACOTAR series and Uprooted. It’s as unavoidable as gravity at this point. The reality is that For the Wolf takes itself too seriously, lacking any of the ridiculous campy fun of Maas's ACOTAR, but without Novik's rich storytelling to back up its self-seriousness. Whitten had a particuar trajectory she wanted to follow to get to Book 2, and she just slotted convenient magical plot devices around that story to make it happen. It might have been OK if the worldbuilding hadn't been so uneven, or if the characters were more vivid and interesting, but none of those things happened.
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 7 books512 followers
June 2, 2021
The author's Twitter refers to this as a monstery boyfriend book and let's just say that I've already died of anticipation and have only come back to life to write this review.

EDIT: I have finished the book and what a splendid time I had!

I'd like to thank Orbit for fulfilling my destiny of reviewing this book. If it weren't for that email, I would have had to wait until release day to read it and we know we can't have that. Bear hugs for the publicity team.

This story has a total gothic feel to it with lots of blood and shadows to go around. Red is determined to fulfill her destiny as a sacrifice to the weird killer forest, but find herself not only obligated to stay and fix what her ancestors had messed up but for the love of Eammon, the Wolf/ Warden of WIlderwood. Amidst her internal struggle with her magic and her feelings for the broody man who lives in the creepy wood, but her sister is scheming to find a way to rescue Red and ends up messing things up a whole lot more than she ever thought possible. But she had good intentions, you see. You can't fault her for that.

With that little story run-down, let's get to the nitty-gritty.

Red is a fierce protagonist. I loved her attitude and her determination. Resigned to being just an offering to a forest that may or may not kill her, she bravely lives up to her fate only to find out things aren't what they seem. She's not one to roll over and when Eammon pushes her, she pushes right back. Don't tell this girl to stay put because guess what? SHE WON'T.

Neve is just as strong-willed and will do anything to protect her sister despite being betrothed to the man Red's been fooling around with. But hey, she's been thrust into her position the same as Red except she doesn't have much guidance.

The romance between Red and Eammon is sweet and happens very quickly. I wouldn't say it's enemies to lovers, but more of a slow burn and appreciation of one another. They see each other for more than what the world has deemed them and they've found a love in that. I can appreciate a good bond as they have.

Whitten's visceral writing is enviable. She takes words and puts them together so beautifully. She pulls you into this world of danger and romance and doesn't let you go. To think this is her debut novel should excite you because I have a feeling she's going to rain down some books in her future and I'm going to devour each and every one.

Thanks again to Orbit. You the best.
Profile Image for fatherofdragons113.
184 reviews47 followers
April 16, 2022
I want to start by saying I think this author has a real talent. I just don't think this book was for me and I think it could've used a lot more fine-tuning.

First off, it was too long. It was so repetitive that I found myself rolling my eyes. The same type of events were happening for the first three hundred pages that I started to feel like it was a chore to get through. The story started out strong, but then it really just falls flat, much like the characters. The pacing felt off, again going back to the repetition. It was super frustrating at times. Every other chapter was either Red or Eammon fighting the forest and then which ever needed saving resented the other for saving them. It just got very tiresome.

The romance was bad. I found myself cringing whenever there were scenes between Red and Eammon, everything was so cliche and there just seemed like there was no chemistry, like the only reason these characters were getting together was because of course the male and female characters HAVE to get together. I would probably have liked this book a lot more if the author just left the forced romance out of it. I found myself skipping scenes between Red and Eammon towards the end because it was just that unbearable. Aside from the romance, there just wasn't anything special about these characters.

The other characters were just as unremarkable. I still am not even sure why Raffe, Lyra, and Fife (among others) were even in the story. They could be lifted right out and the story would virtually be unchanged. The only character I was excited to read about was Neve. (She might actually be the only reason I would even consider reading the sequel, as it seems like it will be focused on her).

The magic system and lore was super confusing to me. I just found myself reading what was happening without really understanding why. I only really felt like I was given a broad and vague idea about how the mechanics of this world worked.

I DID enjoy the atmospheric feel in some parts in regards to the Wilderwood and the Shadowlands. The Shadowlands actually sound super intriguing and since the sequel seems to take place there, I MIGHT read it (meaning it will sit on my TBR until the end of the time).

I want to remind anyone reading this that these are just my opinions and how I interpreted the book. If you think you would like this, you should read it, don't let me discourage you! Your experience might totally be different from mine.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,483 reviews79k followers
June 4, 2021
"The First Daughter is for the throne.
The Second Daughter is for the Wolf.
And the Wolves are for the Wilderwood."

Well, this is a tough one to review, because there isn't anything wrong with the story, it just felt very "been there, done that, got the t-shirt". Sometimes we come across books that are the perfect match for other readers, but we've encountered this story in various forms so many times ourself, that it's tough to write what feels like the hundredth review for a similar plot. Obviously it's a fairytale retelling, it has the hundreds of years older H in contrast to the young h, familiar world building and plot, and generic characters. I definitely think the author's writing style has potential, and this was definitely my favorite aspect of the story, I just wish the overall page count had been shaved down by about 50 pages. Highly recommend to fans of fantasy with some romance and an *almost* YA feel.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
November 26, 2021
Q: “The Wilderwood ate my boots, (c)

Q: The First Daughter is for the Throne, the Second Daughter is for the Wolf, and the Wolf is for the Wilderwood. (c)

Well-well-well. I finally found a book that is SO very much similar at the start to the NN's Uprooted.

Seriously, both books start out with a sacrifice premise. One (Red!) knows she will be a sacrifice from the start. Another (Agnieszka) gets it as a surprise-surprise. And then it all starts flowing....

We have a magical forest. Evil trees. The castle somewhere far away from other people. Even voices that are at a point in time disembodied... Dresses in the castle dresser. Magic that's somehow unwield for the girly-girl. Oh. I'm loving both novels SO much!

she remembered being awed by the emptiness. She’d felt like a falling star on a clear night, pelting through the dark and the cold. (c)
At least she’d be prepared on the off chance she survived long enough to read. (c)
Profile Image for Deema ♡ (tella's version).
166 reviews541 followers
November 23, 2022
For the Wolf is a reimagining rather than a retelling—loosely based on Beauty and the Beast with elements from general fairytales—which worked great for me. The people in Valleydan believe in kings as their gods. These kings were captured centuries ago, and Valleydan sacrifices their second daughters in the hopes of bringing them back.

“The First Daughter is for the Throne.
The Second Daughter is for the Wolf.
And the Wolves are for the Wilderwood.”

Red meets the wolf and everything changes. The legends are only partly true. The forest is suffering too. There are monsters, but not the same ones they are taught to fear. Magic that has rules and demands in order to keep the balance. I appreciated that the Wilderwood is written as a living character. An eerie and blood-thirsty forest you can bargain with. Of course, every bargain has a price.

“Around them, the rest of the Wilderwood watched, still and silent and somehow mournful.”

I was drawn to Red and her sister, Neve, because of their rough edges. They are unapologetic, and they show their true emotions caring little about how the people in Valleydan see them—about how their mother, the queen, sees them. I don’t always enjoy the ways sister relationships are depicted in fiction, but this relationship was layered: It clearly shows the deep connection the sisters share, and the lengths they would go to protect each other. I really appreciated that the characters’ emotions were so present in this book. I felt for the characters and understood the reasons behind their decisions (even when some of those decisions frustrated me).

“…if her destruction was imminent, she’d rather be the architect than a bystander.”

The Wolf, or Eammon, is my favourite character. His story with Red explores the themes of duty, guilt, choice, and love. The slow-burn romance is done so well. I loved reading about their bond. Tender moments between them. Banter as they slowly get to know each other and trust each other. The way they choose each other, choose to help each other, and choose to love each other.

She gave him the shaky edge of a smile, shattering before she could make it whole. “Two terrible confessions in one night.” “Nothing about you is terrible,” Eammon murmured.

Whitten’s writing is descriptive and lyrical. The dark fairytale atmosphere is there, even though the world building could’ve been fine-tuned to make it a bit clearer. I enjoyed Whitten’s writing for the most part, but this does read like a debut novel. I am not saying that to be mean; It’s just true when I consider the repetitive sentences and inconsistent pacing, which occasionally took me out of the intriguing story. A couple of the twists were easy to predict, particularly the true villain in this story, but I still had a great time reading the way things unfold. That being said, a couple of twists around the 80% mark seriously shocked me—they were pretty sinister. The writing during the last 25% of the book was so good too.

“People with power resent losing it, and too much power for too long a time can make a villain of anyone.”

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. That cliffhanger at the end does make me want to read the second book: Neve’s story. I recommend picking it up and reading the content warnings beforehand.

*edit/forgot to mention: There's no spice, just kissing. I would've liked a bit more, but I still enjoyed the slow-burn romance.
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,750 reviews614 followers
May 28, 2022
My reaction to this book on my second re-read has been much different, I've enjoyed it much more for reasons I expand on in my review for "For the Throne," and because of this experience, I would encourage readers to give this a chance. Also, if you only have the first book, don't start it if you don't have the second at hand. It's worth reading both together.

In hindsight, I think this first book suffered a lot from media hype. It's more like Novik than Arden in broad strokes, but Whitten's style is very different to both authors and the hype created expectations unfair for a début author amongst the readership. She tends to be more plot-driven here than character-driven as in the second book, and isn't as expansive and clear in the worldbuilding or explanations for the magic as the other authors are. Whitten likes to keep her cards close, and reveal things at certain points, and this tendency to secretiveness makes it confusing to readers.

Also worth nothing that the romantic pairing in this book doesn't have the chemistry and banter exchanges that so many readers, me included, love in our stories. That might've affected many readers' enjoyment negatively. Red isn't exactly all that likable sometimes, and she makes stupid mistakes, as does her sister. These issues improve in the second book, though, and more of the world is explained.

Overall, I think it's a pretty good book and Whitten is surprisingly good at storytelling for a newcomer writer. But "For the Wolf" is only half of a story and ends a bit abruptly, so this is also going to factor in when rating this book, and why you should pick up the second book immediately after.
Profile Image for Bright Star.
417 reviews126 followers
March 22, 2021
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review

What a disappointment.

I had high expectations for this book and it didn't live up to them.
The first 80/90 pages were interesting and I was loving the atmosphere, but after that the story slowly became boring and repetitive. Only towards the end something happened. I think the author focused too much on the setting and the dark atmosphere, penalizing the characters. They were flat and I didn't feel any emotions towards them. I also expected a different kind of story and maybe this is the reason why I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped.
Profile Image for Danielle.
833 reviews452 followers
July 13, 2023
This was a pretty great world with wonderful character chemistry 😍 I struggle sometimes with envisioning fantasy worlds, due to my personal lack of imagination. 😬 With that said, I was able to picture a lot, which is saying something (for me). 🤗 I’m excited to read the next one!
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
375 reviews3,088 followers
June 1, 2021
Full review to come on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/hollyheartsbooks
Finding light in the darkness is something we can all relate to -- whether it be as simple as discovering the solution to a small puzzle or as grand a notion as searching for one’s purpose in life. For The Wolf addresses both ends of this spectrum and does so throughout with charm, smarts, and grace. This Red Riding Hood inspired fantasy had me more invested in the sentient forest and the creatures calling it home than the romance smothered in its pages.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
260 reviews282 followers
May 31, 2021
This is a dark, richly imagined world where the Big Bad Wolf isn’t exactly what you were always told.

It’s a world where the First Daughter is for the Throne, the Second Daughter is for the Wolf, and the Wolf is for the Wilderwood.

Twin sisters Red and Neve are devastated that soon Red will be sent to the Wilderwood forest as a sacrifice to the Wolf. Legend has it that the Wolf demanded that payment in exchange for keeping the monsters of the forest at bay. The people also want the Five Kings back, and they hope that this human sacrifice will appease the Wolf enough to free them. When Red arrives at the forest she discovers that her knowledge of the Wilderwood and the Wolf are mostly tall tales and soon she will have to harness her mysterious and budding powers to save her world.

This novel has the classic dark and brooding male love interest, the heroine who doesn’t need any man to save her, and a few evil villains added to the mix. It is a slowly paced tale with rich detail that never feels like information overload. I prefer fantasy with well-developed characters over heavy plot and world-building. This book struck a nice balance between fully imagined characters and a forest that literally comes alive.

I took one star off because, sometimes, I found the plot dragged. The romance wasn’t for me, but I’m sure others will enjoy it.

Still, I can’t wait for the sequel!

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit for this ARC in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinions.
Profile Image for idiomatic.
500 reviews16 followers
June 27, 2021
the absolute only thing you need to know here is that the protagonist of this little red riding hood retelling, who wears a red cloak and red lipstick, goes by red because it is short for her name: redarys. i will never get over this in my fucking life.
Profile Image for Hilly 🎐.
709 reviews1,325 followers
August 5, 2023
“A forest in your bones, a graveyard beneath your feet. There are no heroes here.”

There’s something really sad about liking a book until the second half hits and it’s nothing like you were expecting it to be. It's such a waste that this has the most tame & basic conflict I’ve ever seen in adult fantasy when the writing is so good.

This book is basically ✨just vibes and aesthetic✨ plus a sprinkle of character-driven fantasy. And it was fine for me when I was waiting for the big conflict to explode, but that just made my disappointment bigger in the end. The world-building and the plot are not fleshed-out enough, the pacing is super slow, the characters are fun but one-dimensional. Red was my least favorite character, so passive she let everything happen to her with no way of responding because she had no personality [go girl give us nothing]. Nothing happens for the majority of the book, and when things happen it's just a cycle of repetitive fights against the Shadowlands that all start and end the same way.

Still, this book was fun. It gave me Margaret Rogerson vibes, and I liked that it's not too on the nose as a retelling. I think that on itself is remarkable as I've never liked fairytale retellings, especially Beauty and the Beast ones. I also found the slow-burn romance to be well-written (we're going to ignore the fact that it got particularly sappy by the time the ending came around). In conclusion, the vibes made everything better and definitely saved this book for me.

I'm going to keep an eye on Hannah Whitten. I'm unfortunately not interested in the sequel as I don't care about the plot and I'm not attached to the characters enough to want to know where they end up. However, I feel like this author has potential in the romance fantasy genre. There's lots of room for improvement since this one is only a debut.
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