Good books (2.5 to 3.5)

The Wolf of Mist and Fire, by Eve De Gruchy

3.5 out of 5 stars. A good story, but told in a way that leaves room for improvement towards the target audience.

3.5 stars
This review is part of a LoveBooksTours – I’m proud to be a host! Please take a look at the other wonderful reviews on this tour.

Imagine you’re shipped off for school holidays to an uncle you’ve never met, on a small island you’ve never been to, living in a wooden hut that’s probably never been cleaned and hasn’t seen more than one occupant (and a more than fair share of fish guts) living in it before. Maybe this sounds awful to you, but can you sense the adventure beyond it? Let’s see what we will find!

The first thing that’s really found in this book is a coin from the iron age, slowly followed after by an adventure. There’s a wolf in it (you haven’t seen that one coming, right?), some strange characters and the three kids that embark upon this adventure.

Will you heed the call of adventure when it comes for you?

The kids are great characters, everyone is an individual. (I adore Bear, he’s my secret hero.) Adults are somewhat watered down, not quite as fleshed out. They’re not the protagonists, true, but I would have loved a little more personality on at least some of them, like the Uncle. That man stays a mystery, albeit not an interesting, just a confusing one. Other adults – especially the “bad” ones – are most likely written the way they are to add some kind of comic relief, which makes sense.

The story itself is full of wonders and mystery (and history), but also some stuff that seems random, unconnected. I’m not entirely sure what the targeted audience is, but I think that younger readers might have a hard time following some threads throughout the books seemingly disconnected events. I also suggest – judging by the age of our heroes and the cover artwork – that this is the intended audience, so there’s a certain mismatch to my opinion.

That’s really my biggest point of critique – the pace is not fitting. There are long parts that feel sluggish, like nothing is moving – parts where I had the impression that nothing happened to further the plot. That’s usually a not so good kind of thing in every form of literature, and it’s particularly bad for children’s books. We might be talking about the generation smartphone here, with an attention span of less than 20 seconds. And the story makes some jumps between stuff and the conclusions the children draw from them that seem lacking a foundation – it’s not always clear why some actors act the way they do.

And the ending, well – I can see where the author thinks this is a happy ending. But there’s a lot missing for my feeling, and there’s some more logical mishaps. Like – very minor spoiler: How could Iris think the torc found in a muddy hole in a field is her torc from the museum? Any other person would have realized it’s a pair immediately, without going back to the museum and surprisingly finding the other torc still locked away. I mean – how does she think that would happen?

Would you expect some reverse tooth fairy to break your possession out of locked storage to hide it in a muddy field?

I would recommend the story to young adults (13+) or mature readers with a sense for adventure, but not really for a younger audience. Not because of violence, but the writing style – some thoughts seem to jump all over the place, and I don’t think younger kids would enjoy that. Also – the non-plot-furthering parts of the book are drawing the story out, and the ending lacks somewhat.

For me, it’s 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I’ve received a free Advanced Reader’s Copy and am leaving this review voluntarily.

By Stefan

father of two, not enough time to read everything I want to read

2 replies on “The Wolf of Mist and Fire, by Eve De Gruchy”

Well, thank you for organizing all those great tours! It’s really amazing what you’re doing and handling, and I’m grateful to be a member of your LBT club! 😁


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