Wolfskin by W.R. Gingell
‘If you want adventure, you have to march right up to it and kick it in the shins . . .’
At fourteen, barefoot and running wild, Rose is delighted to be apprenticed to Akiva, the witch of the forest. She thinks it will be all enchantment and excitement, and not so much fuss about baths. The reality is much more sober and practical- that is, until she meets a mysterious wolf in the forest and is tricked into stepping off the path . . .
In young, naive Rose, Bastian sees a way of escape. Cursed to remain in the shape of a wolf after running afoul of a powerful enchantress, he has lived many decades under a spell, and now he is both desperate and ruthless. But by breaking part of Bastian’s curse, Rose has caught the attention of Cassandra, the enchantress who cursed him: and Cassandra is by no means ready to forgive and forget.
Meanwhile, wardens have been disappearing from the forest, one by one. Rose is certain that Cassandra is behind the disappearances, but can she and Bastian get to the bottom of the matter before Akiva disappears as well? And are Bastian’s motives entirely to be trusted?
Sometimes the little girl in the red hood doesn’t get eaten, and sometimes the wolf isn’t the most frightening thing in the forest.
You might have noticed that I’m kind of a fan, and if so, you’re right. W.R. Gingell’s works are perfect examples of the very best of noblebright fantasy. They’re not twee or silly or juvenile (although I’m sure she could write charming YA if she chose to); they’re not stupid or naive or logically challenged. They’re not utopian. They’re about complicated, imperfect people choosing to do the right thing even when it’s hard, about learning from one’s mistakes, about choosing to be generous and kind when it doesn’t seem justified. Her fairy tales include allusions to old myths, but plenty of unique twists. Her characters are clever and sometimes snarky but not mean or cynical (at least not for long). All in all, I will read anything she writes because I trust it will be delightful.
This book review originally appeared on C. J. Brightley’s blog.