For the Wolf (Wilderwood #1)

Why did I choose to read this book?
If I’m being truthful, I find the “rewrite a fairy tale/myth/classic” trend a bit lazy sometimes. How many retellings of Jane Eyre do we really need? I was won over by the feminist retellings of Greek myth by Madeline Miller, and I enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, so when I read the synopsis of For the Wolf I was willing to risk the Little Red Riding Hood/Beauty and the Beast comparisons for a new mythology. I chose it because it called to me and it was worth the risk.

What is notable about the story?
The first daughter is for the throne. The second daughter is for the wolf. And the wolves are for the Wilderwood. Any time a second daughter is born to the royal family, she is destined to be sacrificed to the Wilderwood and the Wolf that resides within it. The people believe the Wolf to be a monster, preventing their gods/former kings from returning, and live in the hope that the sacrifice of any Second Daughter will be good enough to convince him to release their gods. But in reality the kings are terrible and locked in the shadow realm, and the Wilderwood acts as the lock on the door to that realm. The Wolf and the Second Daughter together can keep that door closed, preventing the ruin of all the lands in the light.
This story asks important questions about the nature of rituals, desperation, and choice. The presence of consent, the making of a choice is more powerful than any ancient ritual or belief. In the process of asking these questions, For the Wolf reveals the nature of love: that only true love can be borne of true choice, and the bonds formed from that love are the most powerful of all. The love story between Eammon and Redarys is believable because it grows from choice. This is the most clear connection to Beauty and the Beast: Eammon lets her go and in that action provides her with the space for making her own choice about her role in the Wilderwood and her role in their partnership.

Was anything not so great?
There is so much cutting and bleeding in this book, to the point of grating repetition in the middle 30% of the story. If I hadn’t purchased the book I would have stopped reading and returned it to the library. As it was, I pressed through and found the delightful and fulfilling ending, which left me excited for the next installment. If you are triggered by cutting, bleeding, or anything like that, this might not be the book for you.
I found Neverah (Neve, Red’s older twin sister) very boring, the typical pearl-clutching princess who is blown about and used by the stronger people around her, only coming to realize her role as a pawn when it is too late, and then pulling the “it’s all my fault, I deserve this” pity party type storyline that I am never a fan of if it’s drawn out for too long. I am looking forward to For the Throne (book 2) and I am hopeful that Hannah Whitten will not drown us in Neve’s naivete for too long.

What’s the verdict?
I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads (lost a star for the boring bits). I strongly recommend For the Wolf to anyone who enjoys seeing a woman grow and lay claim to what she loves through her own actions and choices. If you enjoy a story about upending tradition to create something new, this book is for you. Go get it, and then preorder For the Throne. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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