The Wolf’s Curse: A Brief Summary and Review. This fast paced middle grade fantasy book is a phenomenal twist on the Grim Reaper mythology with a strong core message of hope and healing. Enter the GIVEAWAY!
One of the reasons I love to read middle grade books is that they can address difficult and heavy topics with a sense of hopefulness that is often missing in adult fiction. This book, The Wolf’s Curse by Jessica Vitalis, reminds me what a pleasure it is to read a beautifully written children’s book that asks big questions and provides meaningful answers.
I read this debut book aloud to my four kids (ages 15, 13, 11, and 7) last month and although the narrator warned us on the very first page that the path wouldn’t be easy and would be filled with darkness and despair, all five of us unanimously agreed that the experience was phenomenal.
I’m absolutely delighted to share this fast-paced fantasy story about death, grief, and tradition with you and your young readers.
Note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. Also, I partnered with The Children’s Book Review and Harper Collins Publishers on a Book Tour for The Wolf’s Curse. Review opinions are 100% my own.
What is The Wolf’s Curse About?
In the fictional French village of Bouge-by-the-Sea, 12-year-old Gauge lives with his grandfather, Bastien the Carpenter, and works as his apprentice.
The village, however, is rife with traditions and superstition surrounding death. When the Lord Mayor’s wife dies and Gauge sees a wolf invisible to everyone else, he is accused of causing the death and is forced into hiding.
Readers quickly learn that the snarky Great White Wolf is no danger to anyone and only appears to ferry souls to the afterlife. After many years in this sacred position, the wolf only wants to convince Gauge to take her place so she can rest in peace. But like the rest of the village, Gauge has grown up with the false traditions and narratives about death and he fears the wolf.
When Gauge’s grandfather and sole caregiver dies, the Lord Mayor vows to find and capture Gauge. Angry and grieving, Gauge vows to find the wolf that he thinks cursed him and get rid of it once and for all. However, the closer he gets to the wolf, the more secrets he uncovers and he begins to suspect that neither the wolf nor the village traditions are quite what they seem.
This unique twist on Grim Reaper mythology is both engaging and thought provoking. It isn’t easy to tackle death and grief in a children’s book, but Vitalis has done it with both grace and creativity!
What We Loved About the Book
While there is certainly a place for slapstick humor and lighthearted adventures on kids’ bookshelves, I get especially excited by a children’s book that isn’t afraid to grapple with darkness. My children, like many others, have already come face to face with disappointment, divorce, and even death in their young lives, so I appreciate when I find books that can help them process big emotions, encourage resilience, and build empathy. What Vitalis does so well in The Wolf’s Curse is tell an honest story about some of these darker subjects in a way that is hopeful, healing, and even entertaining.
I also appreciated the careful and creative way that the author deals with death and its rituals in the story. The fantasy setting makes it easier to discuss death in a way that isn’t frightening or specific to any religion or culture. Because it’s set in a fictional village with a culture unlike any other, death occurs without coffins, funerals, and cemeteries. Instead, there are wharves, boats that set sail to the sky, and mirrors that release the soul. It’s beautiful and thought provoking while remaining very accessible to young readers. Kids can read this story and make universal connections with the bigger themes surrounding death and grief without the story ever feeling dark or moralistic.
My kids loved the wolf, a snarky first-person narrator who brings levity to the story. They also appreciated the fast pace and engaging plot. There is a hint of mystery – What is the Lord Mayor really up to? What is going to happen to the wolf? What secrets are being kept about the village traditions? – in every chapter that kept my kids begging for “just one more chapter please” when we read together every night. I know we’ve picked a good one when they don’t want me to stop reading!
Bottom line, The Wolf’s Curse is a phenomenal debut book that we wholeheartedly recommend for kids ages 10 and up. Not only is it really fun to read, it’s the kind of book that stays with you.
Ages 10+ | 336 Pages | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | ISBN-13: 9780063067417
Enter the Giveaway
Enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of The Wolf’s Curse!
Five (5) winners receive:
A hardcover copy of The Wolf’s Curse
The giveaway begins September 21, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends October 21, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
The Wolf’s Curse Giveaway