In early 20th Century Russia, or so the story goes, wolves were popular pets – until, that is, they got too big and stopped being cute and playful. At this point the wolves were usually killed. Sometimes wolves were lucky, and sent into the woods, where someone brought them back to what they once were and reminded them of their wolfish ways. That someone was a Wolf Wilder.
Feodora’s mother is one such person, and Feo is learning her mother’s craft until the vicious Russian Army comes, and everything changes. When her mother is dragged to prison because of her actions, Feo has to fend for herself, and in doing so inspires revolution.
Katherine Rundell creates a really vivid depiction of a country on the brink of revolution, through the eyes of a child who is as wild and brave as the wolves she trains. This book feels rather like a fairytale, albeit a Grimm one with dark undertones and a sense of threat in the air rather than a saccharine sweet Disney remake. That being said, it still manages to have a very clear sense of time and place, and the combination of these characteristics make it completely unique and a really memorable read. It’s one of those books that feels like it will stand the test of time and become a classic. I’d definitely recommend it!
The themes in this book mean that it could be a bit on the scary side for younger children, but it’s perfect for readers age 9 and over.
Whilst wolf wilding wasn’t really a thing during the early twentieth century, lion re-wilding really does exist, and is a fascinating topic to look into.
Bloomsbury has also created a teacher guide for this book, which is available here.