Red Wolf

HarperTeen. Jul. 2021. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062411624.
Gr 10 Up–Adele and her mother live in a village surrounded by a monster-filled wood; her werewolf-bitten father was burned alive before he could become a monster himself. Engaged to watchman Grainger, Adele cannot understand why her mother objects until learning that she, like all her female relatives, can shape-shift into a red wolf. Although “redwulf” are guardians who protect people from monsters, watchmen believe anyone sorcerous, and their families, must be burned alive to protect the village. Adele also learns she was betrothed at birth to another guardian’s son, Max, and that his village’s future depends on her bearing him daughters. However, Adele won’t forsake Grainger and refuses to accept that, for the sake of her village, she must kill anyone—however innocent—who learns their secret. How can she accept that she must become a monster herself? This fast-paced dark fantasy features strong worldbuilding, distinctive characters, and evocative sensory details, but may be too disturbing for some readers. Adele is forced to make excruciating ethical choices, as she must decide—about people she’s known forever—who to kill, who to betray, who to save, and who to marry. The results are often shocking, and bloody. Characters’ ethnicities are not mentioned, though Adele has red hair and freckles.
VERDICT Hand this Little Red Riding Hood–inspired tale to dark-fantasy fans who relish disturbing ethical decisions, and are unfazed by blood and gore.

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