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Review: For the Wolf

1/5 stars

For the Wolf, by Hannah Whitten (2021)

Cover - good.

Idea for story - good.

Execution - terrible.

I read this a while back and wasn't sure if I would review it, since I really didn't like it, but... sometimes it's fun to just rag on something.

This is billed as a retelling of some kind of mash-up of Red Riding Hood and Beauty & the Beast. I like a good reimagined fairy tale, so I was game to try. In the town of Valleyda (pronounced vuh-lay-duh), the second daughter of the king & queen must be sacrificed, on her 20th birthday, to The Wolf, who lives in the nearby Wilderwood. No one knows anything about The Wolf except that, supposedly he will release five kings from Valleyda that have been imprisoned for hundreds of years. I'm not sure what that's supposed to do or solve, but everyone wants it real bad. But the sacrifices have also been going on for hundreds of years so I also don't know why they think that's the answer.

Enter Redarys, known as Red - the second daughter. She has a magical power she doesn't want, and can't explain or control, and is afraid she will at some point hurt her sister, Neve, with it. And so, she goes willingly to the sacrifice, despite her sister and sort-of boyfriend (he loves her, she's fine with him) trying to convince her to run. Off she goes, and meets The Wolf, who's just a guy, Eammon, but who is connected to the forest in a way where either it controls him or he controls it? He's stuck there, and so are a few other folks who made a bargain with the forest and therefore can't leave - Raffe, Lyra, and Fife, who don't really do or represent much of anything, and could have been left out entirely.

I don't know what else happens. Nothing, really. There are times when it seems like the story is actually going someplace, but at the end I just thought, so why did any of these characters bother with any of this?

There's a totally flat and unremarkable romance, if you could call it that, between Red and Eammon where they pine after each other while also doing that thing where they think they know what's best for the other person, and what's best is "you need to stay away from me, it's for your own good!" and "damn you, what's best for me is YOU!" but "no you have to save yourself..." All the while smizing at each other and making everyone else roll their eyes so hard they see their brains. Also, Red is supposed to be a strong female character but the second she meets this wolf guy she falls apart because, SWOON, OMG he's so cute and angsty, this smelly teenage boy!

The "world-building" is useless and the "magical system" makes absolutely no sense. I put both of those in quotes, because I wouldn't describe what Whitten does here as either world building or magical.

This is also the most repetitive book I've ever read. Characters say and do the same things over and over. I should have started counting how many times Whitten used the phrases, "she didn't realize she was crying until she tasted salt," "she dug her fingernails into her palms, creating red crescents," and "she tasted iron as she bit into her lip." Eammon lounges in a doorway every few pages, and Red just reiterates the same thoughts again and again. I honestly can't understand how this got through the editing phase of publication.

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