Monday, 25 July 2016

Review: Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

2016  304 pages  Corgi Childrens

Whilst the Second World War rages throughout Europe, eleven-year-old Annabelle McBride lives a quiet life on her family farm in the small Pennsylvanian town of Wolf Hollow. But peace is disrupted when new student Betty Glengarry arrives and Annabelle quickly learns just how manipulative and cruel Betty really is. Things soon grow worse when reclusive war veteran Toby becomes a target for Betty’s scheming ways, and before long the whole town is involved in a man hunt fed entirely by rumour and fear. Annabelle however knows the truth, and she must somehow find the courage to be the only voice of justice as tensions throughout Wolf Hollow begin to rise.

This novel is simply delightful. Its poignant story and effortless writing style make for a memorable reading experience and I didn’t want it to end. Wolf Hollow has been compared with To Kill a Mockingbird and I can certainly see where the similarities lie – Annabelle, like Scout Finch, is a young country girl who explores the fight for justice and witnesses the consequences of false accusations. Whilst I don’t know the true inspiration behind the story there are parallels that can definitely be felt throughout, especially with Toby who acts as a Boo Radley figure. Despite this the novel works wonderfully and the story stuck with me long after I’d turned the final page.

Child narrators can sometimes be difficult to master but Annabelle is a brilliant heroine, with Wolk managing to evoke just enough childlike innocence in to her character to be believable. Annabelle is strong and brave and rather than simply watch the events that are unfolding in her town, she actively becomes involved in trying to create a solution. Whether her actions always prevail or not, it was pleasing to read about a young female character who is active and who is aware of what’s happening around her. I also liked how the book highlighted the importance of relationships between adults and children. Toby is a shy, nomadic figure haunted by war but Annabelle has only ever seen kindness from him and the friendship they grow to have is lovely. Annabelle learns from her parents, like most children, how to behave and treat others and I loved how this family relationship ran continuously throughout. The novel explores how adults lay the foundation for who their children become and the positive experience gained from reading this was really touching.

The writing flows easily and the tone of the story is so atmospheric that I flew through the pages quicker than I anticipated. I loved the rural Pennsylvanian setting and the details behind the name of Wolf Hollow are a nice touch – everything just worked so well and the end result is simply charming. I think what I loved about Wolf Hollow so much is that I was surprised by it – I wasn’t expecting to read a story that was so haunting and captivating. The book is marketed for middle grade readers but this is well worth a read for those of us past our school days, because I absolutely loved it. One of my favourite reads of the year so far. 

Overall rating:
4.5 stars

My proof copy Wolf Hollow was sent to me by The Bookbag and my review was originally published on their website.

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