Review: For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten


As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose – to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in order to save her kingdom. Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the Wilderwood – and her world – will be lost forever.

For centuries the second born daughter of the royal family is given to the Wolf. Sacrificed in hope that the Wolf will release the lost kings from the forbidding Wilderwood. Redarys “Red” is the second daughter and she’s reached the age to be sacrificed. Surrendered to the forest and the mysterious Wolf, Red learns not everything she’s been told is the truth, and it’s possible, she might be a saviour in more ways than one.

For the Wolf was gothic, wistful and rather irresistible. The story unfolds through Red’s perspective with interludes that focus on her sister, Neve. 

Whitten weaves a story with an atmospheric and macabre energy – a girl destined for sacrifice, honorific clothing to signify it all, chaplains to worships lost kings and past daughters, and then to a derelict castle overgrown and earth trodden, and dark altars channeling darker forces.

The Wilderwood is a powerful entity in of itself. I was surprised by the level of personification given to the Wilderwood. It has desires, memories and power, and uses those in ways that serves its need for survival, as it is revealed it’s existence is under threat. I wasn’t at any point certain if it was to be trusted or not by how eerie and commanding it was, but it certainly demanded respected. 

I liked Red’s character. She started off the typical female heroine of many fantasy tales with some bite to her, but by the end, her character development was clear and it was really satisfying to see her become more at peace with herself, expunging her fears and moving to take control of her own life.

Whitten definitely succeeded in writing a love interest that causes a good swoon. He is the perfect concoction of moody, distant, guarded yet gentle and deeply caring. He has lived for so long carrying loss and burdens on his own, that he not only finds it difficult to trust another person, but finds it hard to delegate any tasks – which was an excellent source for conflict. I liked how Red didn’t cower to Eammon, and instead went toe to toe with him.

And there are really good side characters that add interesting dimensions to the story, with the exception of Kiri. Her dialogue was cringeworthy and she offered nothing to the story but irritation for the reader, which I suspect Whitten knows, which for me would make it worse. The glimpses we’re given of the better characters struck my curiosity, especially Lyra and Fife (the Wolf’s companions), and they all for the most part felt worthwhile support to the story. I’m very, very intrigued about Lyra and Fife’s ongoing story and their histories. 

The only thing that irked me at times was it lacked in its originality. It’s undeniably a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast – even down to two sidekicks for the Wolf/Beast – along with smidges of Sleeping Beauty and Red Riding Hood. The pace is slow burn as well, which made parts of the story feel a bit sluggish, when paired with the feeling of having heard/read a similar story before.

For the Wolf is extremely romantic. Love connects and motivates all the characters in one shape and form. Red and Eammon’s relationship was somehow gradually developed yet happened all at once, which worked for me. There is a sex scene toward the end of the book; it’s on page but it’s not too explicit and is really enjoyable, especially once invested in the characters and the romance. 

My favourite part of For the Wolf was the relationship between Red and Neve and its subsequent development across the story. They both start from a place of love and commitment to each other but it quickly evolves beyond those roots. Through individual and combined lenses, we see the sisters journey through their love, fear, control and ultimately power. 

The gradual drawing of lines between one side and the other provided a mounting palpability and excellent momentum toward a tense climax and what can only be described as a harmonious cliffhanger, promising that the story is far from over. I’m very, very intrigued about what’s coming next and where the characters will end up. Here’s to the wait For the Throne! 👑 

Thank you kindly Orbit Books UK and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC, in exchange for this honest review.

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