Book reviews and recommendations, Children 10-12, Young Adult 12-15

Orla’s Book of the Month

Title: She Wolf

Author: Dan Smith

Genre: Middle Grade (9+) to Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Adventure.

Review by: Orla (Kildare Town Library)

This book is set in the desolate, wintry landscape of Northumbria in 866 AD. We are introduced to Ylva, whose name translates as ‘She Wolf’. A fierce name, for a fierce girl. The book opens with the heartbreaking scene where Ylva finds her murdered mother.  She makes a mental note of what the killers look like as they escape on horseback. Etched in her mind is the three fingered Viking and the wild red-haired woman.  Ylva vows to seek revenge for her mother’s death. She believes this is what her Gods expect her to do. 

Faced with the treacherous terrain of heavily snow-covered mountains this is not an easy task. Hazardous conditions make the precarious landscape hard to navigate. With Geri, her beloved dog, by her side she is on a mission. She will not stop until she gets justice. Geri is a comfort to her and Ylva is glad that they can read each other’s thoughts.  They soon cross paths with Cathryn and Bron. At first, Ylva is wary and defensive. Her mother told her not to trust anyone on the road. Ylva doesn’t like Cathryn telling her what to do or what to think. Cathryn tries to convinces Ylva they would be better off staying together. However, Ylva is stubborn and has her own ideas.  

Cathryn mocks Ylva that communicating with Geri is a figment of her imagination. Ylva ignores this. Ylva also questions if Cathryn is too sweet to be wholesome? After departing company Ylva is finding the elements of the wild challenging. In the distance hungry wolves are howling and bears are roaming. The heavy snowfall is relentless.   Her mother’s mantra ‘survival always comes first’ keeps Ylva focused and resourceful to stay alive.  This book is peppered with Norse tales and Ylva believes she has the strength of Thor. Being naive, hungry and vulnerable, Ylva soon finds herself in a situation where she can’t outsmart bad men. She promises them silver to spare her life. However, they can tell she is fibbing. She is saved from this perilous situation when Bron and Cathryn come to her rescue.   
Cathryn tells Ylva that they are being tracked possibly by the Vikings who murdered her mother. She suggests that they spilt up and go three different ways to better their chances of losing them.  They arranged to meet later. Ylva is ambiguous. She worries that Cathyrn has sent her on a wild goose chase and wonders if this is some kind of trap?  All is not all as it seems, friends become enemies and enemies become friends. This book is so descriptive and spine chilling it will make you shiver while reading it. It is action packed from page one and impossible to put down.  

Would you like to borrow a physical copy of this title? Feel free to request it online from your local library make an appointment to visit your local library and collect it when we notify you it has arrived.

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