Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Boy, the Wolf and the Stars by Shivaun Plozza. Special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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Goodreads: The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: 17 November 2020
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
A boy and his pet fox go on a quest to find a wolf who has eaten all the stars in the sky before the Shadow Witch destroys the stars and removes good magic from the world forever.
Long ago, the land of Ulv was filled with magic. But that was before a wolf ate all the Stars in the night sky, ridding the world of magic and allowing Shadow Creatures, beasts made of shadow and evil, to flourish. Twelve-year-old Bo knows the stories but thinks the Stars and the wolf who ate them are nothing more than myths—until the day Bo’s guardian, Mads, is attacked by a giant wolf straight from the legends. With his dying breath, Mads tells Bo that Ulv is in danger and the only way to prevent the Shadow Creatures from taking over is to return the Stars to the sky. And so Bo—accompanied by his best friend, a fox called Nix, a girl named Selene who’s magic is tied to the return of the Stars, and Tam, a bird-woman who has vowed to protect Bo at all costs—sets off on a quest to find the three magical keys that will release the Stars. But Bo isn’t the only one who wants the Stars, and the friends soon find themselves fleeing angry villagers, greedy merchants, and a vengeful wolf. And all the while, an evil witch lurks in the shadows and time is running out
Shivaun Plozza is an award-winning author of books for children and young adults. Her debut novel, Frankie, was a CBCA Notable Book and won a number of awards, including the Davitt Awards and a commendation from the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. Her second novel, Tin Heart, sold in three foreign territories, received two starred reviews, and was nominated to ALA’S Best Fiction for Young Adults list. Her debut middle-grade novel, The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars, is forthcoming in 2020 from HMH Books for Young Readers and Penguin Random House Australia. She is a frequent contributor to anthologies, and when she is not writing she works as an editor and manuscript assessor.
- It’s a fast-paced quest-like adventure story about being brave, knowing your worth, and recognising the power of hatred, fear and forgiveness.
- Strong friendships and found family
- Layered world building that will keep you eager to explore all the creepy and fascinating elements of Ulv!
- Captivating lore about the stars, the moon, magic, hungry wolves and brave friends fighting the odds.
- Surprisingly delightful humour that serves to lighten the mood amongst the story’s darker-themes.
Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
“Their hate isn’t my responsibility I’ll do what I can to put things right, but I won’t hate them; I won’t punish them like for like.”
This book had all the elements that I normally love in a middle-grade fantasy! We get an amazing landscape in the world of Ulv that’s rich in culture and myth, an innocent and curious protagonist, a cute and mischievous furry companion, and best of all wonderful friendships and found family! This also had surprisingly deep themes about abandonment and Plozza also doesn’t shy away from showing the darker side of humanity.
First of all, there’s a map and I love a book with a good map, especially when it enhances the world building. Plozza does a wonderful job in bringing Ulv to life in this story through rich descriptions of the surroundings, and most of all, through the inclusion of myths and the extensive history of the areas and different races. The chapters are broken up with “excerpts” from Ulv’s historical texts, where we get more background on what was happening (or about to happen) in the story in the present. It was a really fun way of slowly building up the world and there was really so much to learn/see! I’m really glad that we explore a fair bit of Ulv through the quest-like adventure that Bo and his friends embark on. It’s actually quite a dark and sinister world with lots of haunted forests, as well as cunning and malevolent creatures. There’s really so much to appreciate in the world building and it was without a doubt my favourite part of the story!
“There are more things to fear in this world than there are boils on a troll’s bum. But few are more deserving of your blubbering, jelly-legged terror than wolves.”
I was immediately lured into the story when we’re introduced to Bo and Nix. My heart immediately went out to Bo because of his sad situation. As the story progressed I became increasingly incensed at how people, mostly “adults”, treated this child. I raged and wanted to throw my Kindle across the room! They were so incredibly cruel and hurtful–and to a child no less!–but I did appreciate how Plozza used them to show the negative influencing power of fear and anger. As I said before, the friendships and found family aspect of the story was wonderful! Tam and Selene were great additions to Bo’s and I loved how unquestioningly supportive they were of him. There were strong themes of parental abandonment within the friendship group that allowed to form a quick but deeply understanding bond, and my heart broke for all of them, their experiences and how they saw themselves as a result of that. The friendship really strengthened their characters though!
“He had been scared but he had also been brave, and his friends had been beside him the whole way, fighting for him, believing in him. It was time he started believing in himself.”
That said, I wish the characters had been more deeply developed, especially Tam and Selene. I was curious and to a point, I cared and was invested in their journey to set the stars free, though I wasn’t particularly attached to any of them–not even the adorable foxy, Nix. I also found the ending a little anti-climactic as a lot more focus was given to the build up. It wasn’t terrible just a little too easily resolved… However, I recognise I’m not the intended audience and I have no doubt that middle-grade me would’ve 100% adored this book and I’m sure many young readers today will love it too!
Overall, this was such a delightful middle-grade fantasy that will sweep you away with its incredible world building, fascinating myths and history, and intriguing magic, all wrapped up in a fast-paced and action-packed adventure!
Have you read The Boy, the Wolf and the Stars or is it on your TBR?