Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves

Wednesday Bks. Jan. 2022. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250785060.
Gr 9 Up–Long takes readers underground and cross-country in her deadly, frozen sci-fi adventure. Sena was orphaned by the deaths of her mothers in a corporate-sponsored wolf sled race on Tundar, a planet with “electrically charged weather and never-ending ice.” She is part “scavver,” a mysterious ethnicity hated by the greedy “corpos” who have no regard for human or animal life. Sena is discontent, living her life stealing from tourists and skulking on the edges of the city’s underworld, wanting nothing to do with the upcoming race. By chance she is pulled onto a team of researchers who know she could be an asset because of her background and scavver know-how. With her wolf companion, she reluctantly agrees to go along, knowing it could cost her life. The author creates a tale of darkness and intrigue with a tough narrator. The complex world of the novel’s setting is a bit of a challenge to envision, and the planet’s specific vocabulary can be an early stumbling block. However, once Sena’s voice breaks through the pain of her circumstances, readers can’t stop rooting for her. Human/animal interaction, heart-stopping race action, and lurking predators are evenly paced, while plot lines crescendo and converge. The blizzard scenes, ice collapses, and temperature drops may entice those who skipped Gary Paulsen or Jean Craighead George to go back and fill in reading gaps. Contains some strong language and violence.
VERDICT A forceful debut for teen fans of danger, the outdoors, and the underworld.

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