Wolves of the Beyond
by Kathryn Lasky
Wolf pup Faolan is cast out by his pack at birth for a deformity- he has a splayed front paw with a strange mark on it. He would have died, but a grizzly bear that had just lost her cubs took him in, nursed him and taught him all she knew. When the wolf pup grows up he realizes he\’s not actually a bear, and sets off to find his own kind. Adventures ensue, hinting at some grand destiny for this little wolf.
I liked the beginning of this book, when the wolf was being raised by a bear. I thought the talking animals were written really well, with realistic behaviors and some interesting invented animal culture in there. The story moves pretty quick and things really change when the wolf leaves to find his own kind. He encounters savage cannibalistic wolves that live with no apparent laws, then explores a cave with depictions on the walls that teach him history (this was rather confounding, I couldn\’t figure out how the wolf learned to read the symbols on the wall so instantaneously), and then meets a clever metalsmithing owl. It all takes place in the same universe as the Guardians of Ga\’hoole (which I haven\’t read, but saw the movie) I read it as a standalone but ended up it didn\’t really work for me. I started skimming at some point, it was feeling like a very different kind of story and some of the elements got a bit too mystical or fantastical for my suspension of disbelief. Also, it seemed really unlikely that a young, lone wolf, no matter how well-fed and taught by a bear, could kill a cougar on its own, and later take down a full grown caribou, also solo. There\’s lots of killing- the wolf and other characters talk about it matter-of-factly and it\’s not deliberately gory but might be off-putting for some kids (this is middle-grade fiction). The more spiritual elements like the wolves, bears and other animals telling things by star patterns, was a bit of a stretch for me too. Oh well. This series (and others by the same author) have lots of fans, so it\’s probably just me. Being too old, and too critical.
Rating: 2/5 219 pages, 2010