Sunday 10 March 2013

The Wolf Princess

The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable (Chicken House)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-1-9084353- 42-7
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Sophie has strange dreams of Russia, her beloved father and wolves. Then she and her best friends Delphine and Marianne get to go to St Petersburg on a school trip. But then they end up in a remote palace with a mysterious Princess in the middle of the Russian Winter and the girls begin to suspect something is not quite right about the visit.

The Wolf Princess explores the sense of dreams and reality and the blurred line in-between the two. It also touches strongly on the concept of home and what that means. As the adventure continues, Sophie, an orphan girl who often feels out of place at boarding school, gains confidence while her two ‘larger-than-life’ friends fade into the background.

The story begins slowly, but the promise of excitement to come shines through and the intrigue mounts throughout until the dramatic climax. In places the plot is a little stiff, the writing awkward and there can be too much ‘telling’ of Sophie’s feelings at times so that the two friends feel like a cliché. But Sophie’s character is wonderful and the writing in many places is beautiful, especially when describing the snow filled woods, the dilapidated palace and the wolves. ‘Be careful of the moon, little Sophie,' Ivan Ivanovich whispered. ‘It will bewitch you. Before you know it, you can no longer live in the day, but only in the world of dreams.’

The dreams of travelling to an exotic place with best friends, discovering you are a long lost princess, the romance of a snowy Russian world, luxuriant train journeys and hidden diamonds will all touch a chord with many young girls (10 +). It is a fantasy they will happily indulge in and the thrills of blizzards, distant wolves and secret histories will keep the reader on edge and well entertained. The purple and silver cover and pages are eye catching.

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