FOR THE WOLF (WILDERWOOD #1) BY HANNAH F. WHITTEN | BOOK REVIEW
TITLE : For The Wolf (Wilderwood #1)
AUTHOR : Hannah F. Whitten
GENRE : Fantasy, Fairytale Retellings, Romantic Fantasy, YA Fantasy
FR RATING : ⭐⭐(2.5 Stars)
DATE OF PUBLISHING : June 1st 2021
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK, Orbit for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
TRIGGER WARNINGS : Please check them out here!
For The Wolf by Hannah F Whitten is the first book in the Wilderwood series. This is also Hannah’s debut, and the story is an inspired retelling of the classic fairytale The Red Riding Hood and Beauty And The Beast. For The Wolf tells the story of Red, the second daughter of the Queen. She is also the only second daughter that has been born in centuries and will be sacrificed to the Wolf as per the traditions of their kingdom. The plan is to free the five Kings whom they see as their Gods. Red’s Twin Neve as the first daughter will reign as a Queen after her mother. The two share a close bond and Neve refuses to sacrifice her sister and goes on her mission to save her sister from the barbaric tradition at any cost. Meanwhile, Red is relieved to leave her home behind and go to Wilderwood as she fears her strange power and the destruction it could cause if she let it loose. This makes her even more determined to leave behind her old life and start fresh and accept her fate. When Red meets the man behind the monster she realizes that the stories of the Wolf and the Kings are not as told and the more she gets to know the new place and her place in it, she learns secrets that could change everything. Will Red be able to handle her new world? Are the monsters going to stay behind with Red’s sacrifice?
This was an interesting take on the classic fairytale and the themes were quite similar to Emily Duncan’s Something Dark And Holy. We have our young woman Red, who is sacrificed by the religious order to free the Kings who were banished by the Wolf. Upon closer inspection Red figures out that not all stories they knew were what they seem and at first, glance. The more she dug, the more secrets are revealed. The story is told through mainly Neve and red’s perspective and we see how each of their actions have a bigger impact on each other and their Kingdom and neither of them was prepared for it.
The main characters are Red and Neve, and this story is focused mainly on Red. For me, the characters were not as developed as I would like them to be. I am not sure if it’s the writing style or the characters themselves, I found myself not connecting with either of them. The motivations of Neve and her actions are not as clear or convincing. Their bond or relationship is not something I felt, because it was told they shared a special bond but we don’t get to see the evidence of that. The telling rather than showing is partly the reason it fell flat for me. I would have preferred to have seen more moments of the two of them together to establish the bond and their sisterly connection and closeness.
To me, Neve and her refusal to accept and respect Red’s decisions and choices were just annoying. I find it hard when characters are so focused on their wants and needs that they refuse to accept others’ choices. I think it would have been better to see them together more to know it was hard on Neve to let go of her sister. A lot of telling and not enough showing of their bond or relationship leaves the readers wondering why Neve bothered to interfere in the first place. I could understand her fear and apprehension but even when circumstances have changed she refuses to listen or understand Red.
Other characters were again one-dimensional and instead of showing us how the dynamics work a lot of it is told and that takes out the experience of getting to know them and understand them. I think this has to do with the setup of the story and the writing style. Friendships, relationships, family dynamics all fell flat for me. I am someone who loves to see these aspects developed fully and so it was a bit disappointing when I was didn’t get to experience them first hand.
The plot was too simplistic and even then I found myself wondering what is going on even quite a few times. The execution of it could have been better. The world while it was interesting again got a bit confusing as the story progressed. The world-building could have been better. While the idea of cursed forests and mystery surrounding 2nd daughters were good enough, I wish it was more developed and explained in an effective manner. Some elements are not fully clear to me and for me the ongoing focus on the world of Wilderwood and how the forest behaves took most of the space in the story. The magic system is based on blood and cutting and so if you are queasy then don’t pick this book up. I am not entirely sure of how it works and what the limitations are. Again we see more interactions between Wilderwood and our main character and her and Wolf than others. Information regarding the forest and its behavior took a long time to come to light. Even then none of the rules, limitations, or reasons were made clear.
There is a small romance and it happened very quickly and some common tropes were used to execute the progression of the romantic relationship. Again as I mentioned before, all of these moments happen too quickly resulting in me not feeling invested in any of them. I knew what the author’s intent was before it happened and it still fell flat as there was no build-up or anticipation to make me interested.
The writing is ok, and while it was easy to read, it didn’t work for me. This book is marketed as an adult book, with the trigger warnings, I can see the age range as the target audience, but other than the TW content, the story, writing, or the world didn’t feel adult fantasy to me. I believe this is a YA novel with TW content. I had high hopes for this book and so many people were hyping it up. I believe that’s one of the reasons for things not working out for me as expected. My expectations were too high and I was let down by the writing and the progression of the story. The pacing is not too fast or too slow. But towards the end, things pick up and got me interested. My issue is mainly with the focus on the forest and the interactions with it, which made everything else fall behind. The story starts off pretty quickly without setting up the foundation on which things progress. The character’s decisions, choices, and motivations were oftentimes unclear or unconvincing, and this made it difficult for me to connect with them or care for them as the author intended.
I believe I am in the minority when it comes to the book. I have seen quite a few glowing reviews and it makes me sad that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped. Overall, if you enjoy fairytale retellings you must check it out and see if it’s interesting to you. For me, being a character-driven person, I like seeing the interactions, growth, and journey so much and that personal touch was missing. Also, the world and magic system and how things work were a bit confusing at times. Although there were moments that felt promising to me, it wasn’t followed through or executed properly. I am giving the book 2.5. The ending did feel a lot better and I am intrigued so that’s a good thing. I am also hoping the second book will deliver the punch I expected from this one. The book has potential, and I wish Hannah the very best and I hope she has a wonderful future ahead of her with her books. Make sure to check out the story and comment below if you have read this book and what your thoughts were on it.
The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.
For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.
As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.
Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.
But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.
Source : Goodreads
Well, you gave it a chance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Maybe the writing style will click with other readers. And I agree from your description that it does sound YA.
I had high hopes for it and it didn’t hit the mark for me. It is disappointing when it happens. I have seen it work for a lot of people.