Wednesday 9 June 2021

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Review: For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten (#Ad)

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

I received this eProof for free from Orbit Books via NetGalley for the purposes of providing an honest review.

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

Published: 1st June 2021 | Publisher: Orbit Books | Source: NetGalley
Hannah Whitten's Website

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.
From The StoryGraph

Being such a huge fan of retellings, it will come as no surprise that I just had to read For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten when I heard of it. A mash up retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast, For the Wolf is a high fantasy story where the second born daughter of to the crown is sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wilderwood, in hopes that he'll return the Kings, the lost gods that have been trapped in the magical forest for centuries. After centuries without, there's now a second daughter: Red, and it's her turn to be sacrificed. She has spent her whole life knowing what her purpose was, knowing she would be willingly given up by her people for a chance to get back the Kings. Despite knowing it will lead to her death, Red is glad to be sacrificed, even though her sister, Neve, rails against the idea. For Red has a dark, dangerous magic inside her she struggles to control, and is terrified of hurting the people she loves. Inexplicably drawn to the Wilderwood, she soon discovers the Wolf is not a monster, but is himself uniquely tied to the forest. There's more to the story she's been brought up with, more than her people know. And it's Red's magic that might just save them all.

Apart from the fact that Redarys goes by Red, and the warden of the Wilderwood is known as the Wolf - but is actually called Eammon - For the Wolf is much more of a Beauty and the Beast retelling than one of Little Red Riding Hood. Eammon is believed to be a monster that kills the second daughters, when in actual fact, the Wilderwood is the only thing keeping a different realm, the Shadows Lands, a prison for the monsters that used to terrorise the world, from opening. A bargain was made years ago, to keep everyone safe. But the Sentinel trees are constantly battling rot, that will allow the way through. The second daughters are needed by the Wilderwood, the price of the bargain, to keep the Shadow Lands closed. The Wilderwood is weakening, and is desperate for the magic in Red's veins, but Eammon is doing all he can to keep her from the Wilderwood, to not let it have her.

The worldbuilding for For the Wolf is amazing! I love the religion surrounding the Kings, I loved the dark, creepy, sentient Wilderwood, the brooding, tragic Eammon, and just how messed up the magic is. It's actually a part of the Wilderwood that they both have in them. Eammon has more, due to his connection with the forest, and it's freaking disturbing everytime he uses it. From his body sprouts vines, bark grows on his skin. The Wilderwood is living inside them. But the Wilderwood also wants to be whole, to connect with their magic to do its job. It's a constant fight to stop the Wilderwood from sending vines and shrubs into any cut Red might get. There's a definite body horror element to the story, I'm not really describing it very well, but when the Wilderwood comes for you, it's not messing about! It's downright sinister.

But For the Wolf it's a much slower story than I expected. Red is terrified of her power, or not being able to control it, but seeing what Eammon goes through, trying to use his own power to heal the Sentinels that start to rot, and close the breaches that do manage to open, she realises he can't do this on his own. But he is full of guilt over the deaths of the previous second daughters, deaths he feels he should have been able to prevent if only he was stronger, and he's trying to make sure the same doesn't happen to Red. Blood or magic is the only thing that helps, and Eammon is almost bleeding himself dry to try and prevent the changes to his body brought on by using magic. And with the Wilderwood weakening, soon Eammon won't be enough. Their slow burn romance is sweets during the constant back and forth. There are baby steps, where Eammon allows her to help in small ways, but it's not enough. This is the story for the most part; Red learning about her magic, trying to learn to control it, trying to convince Eammon to let her help, with the threat of the Wilderwood, and what comes through the breaches a constant backdrop.

There were a number of interludes that go back to Neve's sister and see things from her perspective, where she's willing to do whatever it takes to get her sister back, and her collaboration with a priestess who is obsessive and fanatical. This is where the story gets darker. Things are going on while Red is trying to learn how to use her magic. Dark, sinister things. These interludes were much more disturbing than the Wilderwood itself, to be honest. So while it's slow, there is a lot that's going on, and this sense of foreboding, as you now things are going to get really, really bad.

For the Wolf wasn't as exciting as I would have hoped, but it's definitely intriguing! I love the dark, sinister aspects to the story, and it really kicked up a gear towards the end, with quite the cliffhanger ending! I'm really interested to see where the story goes in the second and final book, For the Throne. If you like your fairy tale retellings dark and disturbing, definitely give this one a go!

Thank you to Orbit Books via NetGalley for the eProof.

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1 comment:

  1. That's interesting that it's more Beauty and the Beast than Little Red Riding Hood. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm glad it was a good read, but sorry it was a bit of a slower read than you would have expected.