Don’t Call the Wolf – Aleksandra Ross – HarperTeen – Published 28 April 2020
When the Golden Dragon descended on the forest of Kamiena, a horde of monsters followed in its wake.
Ren, the forest’s young queen, is slowly losing her battle against them. Until she rescues Lukasz—the last survivor of a heroic regiment of dragon slayers—and they strike a deal. She will help him find his brother, who vanished into her forest… if Lukasz promises to slay the Dragon.
But promises are all too easily broken.
I adored this gorgeous fantasy novel. It feels like a fairytale, but one of the original versions, with truly scary monsters and lots of bloodshed. It also feels like a unique fantasy quest novel, again one that is dark and devious. I loved the characters and loved how they oh so slowly came to like each other and learn to work together. I loved the twist at the end. I loved the magic, the monsters and the evil the characters must face, which brings them all together. But most of all, I loved the world that has been build and the beautiful, descriptive writing that ties it all together and brings it to life.
Ren is Queen of the Forest. With her lynx family and wolf friends, she tries to stave off the ever encroaching press of monsters and darkness that seeks to suck the life out of the forest. They must also avoid humans, who don’t understand them and who cause more harm than good. Lukasz, the youngest of ten brothers is now alone, the last of the Wolf-Lords to traverse the world, fighting monsters and evil. The brothers were exiled from their homeland after the Golden Dragon arrived and over the years, each of the brothers has felt the call to return and try and take their home back from the dragon. Now Lukasz must also return. But as he and Ren reluctantly join forces, they realise their goals are not so different from the other’s.
Ren is a queen. She has the ability to turn from girl to lynx and back again. This power helps her fight back the monsters that ravage her forest. She is strong, kind but a fierce leader. Lukasz, for all his Wolf-Lord glory is vulnerable. Alone, missing his brothers and injured. Ren seems an unlikely ally. But, he needs her. She needs him. He just hasn’t told her that he won’t be able to deliver on his promise. They hardly see eye to eye and never agree to anything and have to start over so many times and yet for all that they make a great team. It was so wonderful to watch them grow closer, to have to trust each other. Theirs is a slow, quiet romance, but it was the perfect addition to the story.
Through short flashback chapters, we readers also get to know Lukasz’ brothers and a bit of their history and travels since leaving their mountains.
While this book is a complete story and the perfect standalone (love that in a fantasy novel), I’d love to return to the world created here and can’t wait to see what Aleksandra Ross writes next.
Each time I put this book down I was very eager to pick it back up again. The world captured between the pages, while scary and I’m not sure I’d like to live there, was enchanting and somewhere I was very happy to return (so long as I didn’t have to actually be here, facing those monsters myself.)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and can’t wait to share it with our library’s fantasy fans.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Brothers, monsters, forest, royalty, leadership, death, fighting, wolves, animals, dragons, magic.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Violence, death injury, blood, monsters, scary scenes.
Published: 28 April 2020 by HarperTeen.
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 512 pages.