Reviews of Lone Wolf
The literary grandchildren of Richard Adams’ Watership Down (1974) proliferate in this complex and nuanced talking-animal adventure
School Library Journal
Grade 4–7—A wolf pup is left to die by his pack because his malformed foot is considered bad luck. A grizzly bear, Thunderheart, whose cubs have been killed, rescues Faolan and nurtures him until her accidental death. As the young wolf continues on alone, he discovers "the Cave Before Time" with wall paintings portraying the history of the wolves and realizes that he must return to his own kind and learn their ways. This anthropomorphic fantasy has a number of the traditional characters found in these tales, such as the young outcast Faolan; the wise and solitary Gwynneth, the owl; and the powerfully maternal Thunderheart. The relationship between the wolf and the bear is particularly touching as they develop a strong and loving bond. After her death, the story meanders a bit as Faolan deciphers the message in the cave. As it ends, enough questions remain about his future to leave room for a sequel. Those who enjoy this genre will probably be intrigued enough by this young wolf to tag along on his journey.—Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA
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The literary grandchildren of Richard Adams’ Watership Down (1974) proliferate in this complex and nuanced talking-animal adventure. Lasky’s descriptions of a newborn wolf pup’s craving for light, milk, and meat are wonders of sensory economy—immediately you’re invested in his struggle. But wolf custom decrees that he be abandoned to die because of a deformed paw. A childless bear named Thunderheart finds the pup and names him Faolan. Under her guidance, he grows to be unusually strong and savvy. Then a tragic event compels him to seek out his own kind. This is a soulful, searching read consumed with the spiritual journeys of animals and the ethereal connection between slayer and slain. At times it becomes mired in mythos, but when the story lets loose, it pays off, as when Faolan encounters a metalsmithing owl (with connections to Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’hoole series), who rights the wolf’s crooked path. A sedate start to the Wolves of the Beyond series, perhaps, but with an invigorating ending that bodes well for the next volume. Grades 5-8. --Daniel Kraus
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