The Wolf’s Curse
Jessica Vitalis, Author
Greenwillow Books, Fiction, Sep. 21, 2021
Suitable for ages: 8-12
Themes: Death, Grief, Rites and ceremonies, Orphans, Wolves, Grandfathers, Fantasy
Book Jacket Synopsis:
The Wolf is not bound by the same rules as you are.
The Great White Wolf is very, very old. And she is tired. After living through 700 winters, she id searching for someone to take her place. But she is invisible to most people. In all those years, only three have seen her. One died young. One said no. One is still alive a — a twelve-year-old boy named Gauge.
Gauge lives in the fictional French village of Bouge-by-the-Sea with his grandfather, Bastien the Carpenter, and works hard as his apprentice. He’s been hiding much of his life in his grandfather’s shop, just because he once saw the invisible Wolf — and right after that the Lord Mayor’s wife died. Now his only protector, his beloved grandpapá, has died.
Everyone in the village is superstitious about death and believes that Gauge is a Voyant — witch. Gauge wants nothing to do with the Wolf, but the Wolf visits the boy regularly. The Wolf has an offer. She can save him the pain of growing up. Now that he’s all alone in the world, it may be the only way to escape the bounty on his head. If only his grandpapá’s last words hadn’t been, Stay away from the Wolf.
Why I like The Wolf’s Curse:
Jessica Vitalis’s debut novel, The Wolf’s Curse, is a captivating and unforgettable fantasy about about death, grief, loneliness, superstitions, magic, and friendship. The storytelling is exceptional and full of depth. The plot is risky and engaging. And the ending is perfection. This is a story that will remain with readers.
This beautiful tale is narrated by a snarky female Wolf, who has her own back story to tell. She’s old and tired and has set her hopes on Gauge taking her place to free the souls of Gatineau from their bodies and help them on their journey to a place of rest. The Wolf is not harmful. The Wolf also tells the stories of the the other characters and brings some humor to the story. Fans of The Book Thief may enjoy this novel.
Gauge is a relatable character who has endured isolation, loneliness and anger because of how he’s been treated by the villagers. But, he’s also courageous and wise. When his grandpapá dies, he has no choice but to emerge from hiding and deal with his releasing ceremony alone. With a bounty on his head, no one seems to care about Gauge, except Roux, the Blacksmith’s kind and smart daughter. They hide Gauge in their home while the authorities hunt for him. When Roux loses her father to lung disease, the two friends begin to question the village’s long-held beliefs and rituals, and search for the truth. In doing so, they bravely expose corruption.
The Wolf’s Curse addresses difficult and thought-provoking topics with a wonderful sense of hopefulness. It will enable readers to discuss death in a way that is less scary.
Jessica Vitalis is a full-time writer with a previous career in business and an MBS from Columbia Business School. An American expat, she now lives in Canada with her husband and two daughters. This is her first novel. Visit her at her website.
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*Review copy won on Natalie Aguirre’s website Literary Rambles, where she interviews authors and agents weekly and offers many giveaway opportunities to her readers. Make sure you check out her wonderful site and read her fascinating interview with Jessica Vitalis.