For the Wolf (Wilderwood #1) by Hannah F Whitten

My Five Word TL:DR Review : I wanted to love this

FortheWolfOkay, I think I will start my review of For the Wolf by saying I think a case of overhype and misdirection led me to expect something different from this one.  Basically, I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings and can’t resist picking them up always with that sweet expectation of finding something whimsical and yet deliciously dark, twisted and different.  To be fair to For the Wolf I literally led myself down the garden path a little with this one.  I read the description and put two and two together, basically reaching the conclusion that a story with a character called Red and a dangerous wolf in a forest equated to a Red Riding Hood retelling.  That’s my own fault at the end of the day.  In fact the blurb mentions that fans of Uprooted will like this one and I think that particular comparison is much more apt.

As it is, this felt much more like a Beauty and the Beast style story – which isn’t a problem because that just so happens to be my favourite fairytale – but, I think a combination of a rather busy style background in terms of the folklore elements coupled with a style of magic that felt a little strange left me unable to fully enjoy this one.

Redarys, or Red, is the second Princess and therefore fated from birth to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Forest.  Centuries ago a deal was struck whereby dark magic was banished and kept at bay by the Wilderwood and its sentinels.  Unfortunately the Five King’s were also banished due to an unexpected twist.  Over the years it seems that the story and the bargain struck have evolved into something different.  It was believed that the second daughter born to the royal family would be given in sacrifice to the Wolf in the Woods, this sacrifice being linked to the release of the Kings (or Gods as they seem to have become known over the course of time).  However, having been sent into the wood, Red discovers that there is to be no sacrifice and the wolf is in fact a man who is single handedly struggling to keep the darkness at bay.

On a positive note I thought it got off to a really good start.  It fairly soon establishes the main characters and their respective roles and also sets up for a story with two sisters who seem devoted to each other.  I thought the introduction of Red into the Wilderwood and the chase through the trees before she reached the Tower was also really well done.  Also, to be honest, although there was a good deal of creating situations that would lead to sexual tension between Red and Eamonn (the wolf – or warden as it happens) I did quite enjoy the romance aspects to the story.  I wouldn’t call it unique and it definitely wasn’t unexpected but still I liked the feelings that built between the two characters and the eventual relationship that ensued.  I have no guilt whatsoever in that respect.  I came expecting some romance and Whitten delivered.

I think the main issue I experienced with For the Wolf was a sense of puzzlement.  I wasn’t sure why there was a plot to release the five kings – and this does take up a good portion of the story involving a religious cult and a scheming priestess.  The motivations were very thin on the ground.  The world here seemed to have survived perfectly well since the kings disappeared so what was the purpose of wanting them back?  This part of the story felt very under explored and it just left me feeling as though I’d missed something.  The Priestess herself, she lacked any sort of substance that would lend credulity as to why anyone would follow her.  And, the magic used here seemed mainly to revolve around cutting and bleeding onto things which I can’t deny was not an aspect of the story that I enjoyed.  I also would mention that at almost 450 pages this did feel a little bloated in parts.

Criticisms aside, I think For the Wolf will definitely find it’s audience.  On this occasion I don’t think that will be me and I don’t expect to pick up further instalments in the series although it might be the case that more information about the Kings and the magic is forthcoming as the story progresses.  I admit I’m not the target audience for this one and although I did enjoy the brooding romance the retelling or fairy tale elements didn’t really work their magic for me on this occasion.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy for review, through Netgalley.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3 of 5 stars