Book Review: For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
Author: Hannah Whitten
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publish Date: June 1, 2021
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The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.
For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark, sweeping debut fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.
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.
Let me just start off by saying this is the first book I’ve pre-ordered since my high school days when Harry Potter midnight release parties were a big deal. I’m now over 30 and if there’s one silver lining to all of these pandemic shenanigans it’s that I rediscovered my love of reading. When I saw the synopsis and marketing for For the Wolf something in me just had to have it. And voila, here we are!
The official synopsis is absolutely true to the plot, so I don’t feel the need to add anything else. It’s alluring and mystifying, just like the first few pages of the book. At first it’s a little confusing because the reader is thrust into the last few nights leading up to Red’s departure for the Wilderwood. There’s no setting of the scene or painting of a broad brush to get the reader established into the world. Normally I like a few pages of introduction, but the lack thereof serves to enhance the mysteriousness.
For the Wolf seemingly starts off as an adult retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. There’s a female character named Red. There’s talk of a dangerous wolf in the woods. And Red has to go into the woods to save her people, which I think is analogous to “checking on grandma.”
Once Red enters the Wilderwood and finds out the Wolf is actually a man, that’s where the tale takes a different turn from our childhood bedtime story. She realizes that everything she learned about her kingdom’s last several hundred years’ worth of history isn’t quite accurate. Time has a way of skewing the truth, or how people want to remember the past.
As Red learns more about her magic from the Wolf, back in Valleyda her twin sister, Neve, works on a plan to find and bring Red back from the Wilderwood. Neve will do anything to save Red, even if it means sacrificing herself to a cause she doesn’t quite understand.
There’s strangers to lovers (is that a thing?), or at least not-quite-enemies to lovers. There’s some spice. It’s not Sarah J. Maas level of spice or graphic (if that’s not your thing), but those scenes are *chef’s kiss*.
Simply, I loved everything about this book: the writing style, the characters (even though some of them frustrated me), the creepy Wilderwood. The whole concept of the Wilderwood fascinates me and I’m still not one hundred percent sure I understand it. But you won’t get anymore details out of me–no spoilers! I can’t wait for the next book, For the Throne, which I will definitely pre-order. If you haven’t read this book yet, do yourself a favor and get on it.
Content warnings: blood
Reading format: Paperback