by Marcus Sedgwick
In a small, struggling coastal settlement during ancient times, life is difficult and getting harder every year. Crops are failing, the fish no longer abundant, winters cold and long. The people are barely surviving. Then they discover a small ragged girl in a wolf cave, and bring her home. She has an uncanny ability to communicate with animals which they mistrust and fear, even as it could save them from starvation. But there is more to her obscure past. While scavenging for food on the shoreline, the wolf girl and her adopted brother find a mysterious, beautiful wooden box among the flotsam. They take it home, but the girl is plagued with a deep fear of it. Then a stranger comes among them, asking for the box. At the same time, rumors are arising of a warring tribe descending from the north, and the tribe is in turmoil as their leadership falters. All these events are in some way connected to the wolf girl, and as they try to first deal with then flee their oncoming fate, she might be their entire undoing. This is a fast-paced story. Well told, with sparse yet vivid language. It definitely kept my attention. Even to the very end, I was never quite anticipating where the story would turn next.
Rating: 3/5 224 pages, 2003