Hello, party people!
It’s my stop at the Tbr and beyond blogtour and it has been such a pleasure reading and reviewing this book. Here you’ll find my thoughts about this book as well as my favorite quotes. Don’t forget to look at the other posts of this tour, in case you need a little more convincing.
“The path ahead isn’t easy. It will be filled with darkness and despair, and you will almost certainly regret your decision, just as I regret mine.”
~Narrator, The Wolf’s Curse
Twelve-year-old Gauge’s life has been cursed since the day he witnessed a Great White Wolf steal his grandpapá’s soul, preventing it from reaching the Sea-in-the-Sky and sailing into eternity. When the superstitious residents of Bouge-by-the-Sea accuse the boy of crying wolf, he joins forces with another orphan to prove his innocence. They navigate their shared grief in a journey that ultimately reveals life-changing truths about the wolf––and death. Narrated in a voice reminiscent of The Book Thief and Lemony Snicket, this fast-paced adventure is perfect for fans of literary fiction fantasy such as A Wish in the Dark and The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
I was very happy to be part of this blogtour and to have the opportunity to read this book just before it was released. I feel it’s a wonderful autumn read, just perfect to read in bed or curled up on the couch with a steaming mug of tea and a cosy blanket. The book feels like foggy autumn mornings, when dew and frost covers the fields and you can smell the cold and the moisture in the air. It’s perfect for the season.
I’m not sure where to begin because there is so much to tell. The book is told by the all-seeing narrator who sometimes addresses the reader directly. It’s the Great White Wolf herself, who not only knows everything that’s going on but also makes snarky remarks that never failed to make me laugh. She knows her time is coming to an end and she is desperate to get the protagonist Gauge to take her place. It puts the reader in the advantage to know more about what’s going on that the main character but still she’s not telling you too much, so you have to experience what’s happening with the characters together.
Gauge is the main character in this story. Ever since he saw a wolf that nobody else could see and who was said to be stealing the souls of the dead and prevent them from going to the afterlife, he was shunned and was even meant to be sent out to sea (put on a raft without paddles and left to die) if it hadn’t been for his grandfather. When his grandfather’s soul is “stolen” Gauge is hunted by the village. Gauge is a good boy, despaired by his grandfather’s death and his situation. He is a calm boy, ridden by grief and his anger at the wolf who he doesn’t understand and who he blames for everything. He is helped by Roux, the blacksmith’s daughter who has her own worries and grief to deal with.
The story spans over only a handful of days but it’s never too fast or too stretched. The pacing is nice and even though there is a lot of hiding and planning going on, I never felt that the book was boring or too slow.
The tone of the book is somber with a whiff of thrill and urgency. I liked how the author created a believe system revolving about dying and the afterlife. It was interesting to learn about these believes and the traditions that came with them. Since Gauge was hidden away for many years he did not have many experiences with it and we can learn about them alongside him.
The themes of death and grief were handled very respectfully which I liked a lot. You can feel the love Gauge had for his grandfather and his despair over losing him. It never felt too heavy or depressing though.
There still was a mystery to solve and it was woven neatly into these themes of death and grief. And while these themes are very prominent in the book it didn’t feel off-putting. There was not that much real magic going on, it’s more of a mystery than an adventure story but that didn’t trouble me in the slightest.
In conclusion, I really, really enjoyed the book and it’s somber tones. It was perfect for the season and I liked the world the author created. There was a good ending to the story and the way to get there was full of secrets and lies and grief and curiosity. I liked the book a lot and will be on the lookout for more books by Jessica Vitalis.
JESSICA VITALIS is a Columbia MBA-wielding writer. After leaving home at 16, Vitalis explored several careers before turning her talents to middle grade literature. She brings her experience growing up in a nontraditional childhood to her stories, exploring themes such as death and grief, domestic violence, and socio-economic disparities. With a mission to write entertaining and thought-provoking literature, she often includes magic and fantastical settings. As an active volunteer in the kidlit community, she’s also passionate about using her privilege to lift up other voices. In addition to volunteering with We Need Diverse Books and Pitch Wars, she founded Magic in the Middle, a series of free monthly recorded book talks, to help educators introduce young readers to new stories. She was recently named a 2021 Canada Council of the Arts Grant Recipient. An American expat, she now lives in Canada with her husband and two precocious daughters. She loves traveling, sailing and scuba diving, but when she’s at home, she can usually be found reading a book or changing the batteries in her heated socks.
He wants a peek. A glance at the life he once led – the life he hopes to lead again one day. It could happen. Or at least he believes it could.Chapter One
Surely by now you’ve figured out that the universe is vastly more complex, and interconnected, than you ever imaginedChapter Two
Right away, I see that I’ve made a mistake. Rage burns in the boy’s eyes. Accusations. Hatred. My appearance has ripped the newly formed scab off his aching heart, exposing the raw wounds underneath.Chapter Five
Rather than deal with the hard truths, you humans often sweep them under the ashes, hoping to spare your loved ones pain. Not that I can throw dead fish; I used to do exactly the same thing.Chapter Five
For the love of all the sharks in the sea, why must humans always assume that violence is the answer?Chapter Five
Nobody can outrun death. Trust me – I tried to save my daughter. But the boy will do his best, and I suppose that is all anyone can ask.Chapter Six
Watching Roux, he can’t help but think that sometimes, the best way to love somebody might be to let them set sail.Chapter Eight