148. Wolven by Di Toft

Wolven by Di Toft (Canada) - (USA)
Wolven series, book 1

Pages: 322
Ages: 8+
Finished: July 28, 2010
First Published: Jun 1, 2010 (Aug. 2009 UK)
Publisher: Chicken House
Genre: children, paranormal, horror
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

In Nat Carver's opinion, the strange animal being paraded before him looked as though it owed its origins more to Dr. Frankenstein than Mr. Darwin.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Scholastic Canada.

Reason for Reading: I love stories of shape shifters and I'm always open to a fun werewolf story.

First impression, the cover. Maybe it's just me, but I really find that dog/wolf face goofy looking and had the idea that this was going to be a humorous Middle Grade werewolf story with lots of humour and a little of the scary. The first few chapters humorously held up my belief but as the book progressed there soon came a time when I realized this book was serious.

Nat adopts a strange looking mutt from a farmer because he knows said farmer will drown it if this last chance try to get rid of him doesn't work. He's a ragtag mutt all right, 3yo, large, filthy, howls and looks like someone has taken a knife and fork to his fur. After Woody, the dog, has been cleaned up Nat starts to bond with him then one day he finds a naked boy lying on the floor beside his bed. Turns out Woody is a Wolven, a wolf who can change into a human. Woody's in trouble, some very bad government guys are looking for him, along with a crew of bad werewolves, so they can use Woody to further their experiments in diabolical genetic mutations for military purposes.

A bit of a shaky start, but once the action started I was hooked. An intricate story involving bad government experiments gone wrong and evil creatures on the loose. The book is age appropriate but is certainly quite intense and there is violence. Not graphically detailed but heads get severed and loved ones get shot in the chest, over and over. I know my own son wouldn't be able to handle the tension, severed heads wouldn't bother him, but the anticipation of dread would do him in. (He's sensitive in that regard) I on the other hand am not, and loved it and found the book to be well-written and right on with the targeted age group. There is a lot of humour to be found in the dialogue which lightens the mood evening out the heavy, scary moments. It is a typically British type of humour and helps keep the story grounded in England, where the possibility of these legendary creatures is so much more plausible than in the New World.

An intense, involved plot in this genre for the MG crowd which looks like it may be a series or at least a trilogy as the second book is already out in the UK, Wolven: The Twilight Circus.


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