Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there was a dark and stormy girl …”

From that captivating first line, Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder (published by Bloomsbury) blends the fabric of old-favourite fairytales with the unexpected.

The “dark and stormy girl” – Feo – lives with her wolf-wilding mother Marina and three wolf “siblings” in a remote, snowy cabin not too far from St Petersburg, Russia. Though their lives are quiet, private and essentially wild, Feo’s happy family fall under the watch of the Tsar’s Imperial Army, and in particular one General Rakov who’s reputation for ruthlessness has left the nation trembling and helpless to fight back.

But not all the Imperial Army are bad. Feo accidentally befriends Ilya, a young soldier who would rather dance for the Imperial Ballet than fight for Rakov. He is won over by the wolves, and, eventually, Feo is won over by him.

When Rakov attacks Feo’s world, arresting her mother and burning her home, Feo and Ilya along with her wolf pack set out for St Petersburg to set Marina free. Extreme snow, cold and ice are the least of Feo’s struggles as she battles to save her mother. Loss, heart-ache and the relentless evil of Rakov threaten to discourage her from her course.

But then help comes from unexpected places. When Feo’s path crosses that of a young revolutionary a village full of fierce children ready to follow her lead, Feo’s lone quest grows into the most extraordinary revolution, and one Rakov never saw coming: a revolution of of children turned wild. The pack is coming…

I thoroughly enjoyed Katherine Rundell’s characterisations in The Wolf Wilder. Feo is a strong and admirable character, but with believable weaknesses and by no means able to succeed without the help of friends. And I especially loved her profound relationship with the wolves. This book will appeal to lovers of adventures with a dark and dangerous side, the kind that heroes are born out of, as well as lovers of snow and far-off lands. Rundell’s stories always have a classic feel about them, yet her voice is unique, keeping her them fresh and exciting.

And as you’ll see from the photo, this book is Hugo approved. *He thinks he’s a wolf… shhhh!

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Adventure

Recommended Tea: Russian tea (of course) with plenty of sugar