The Children’s Book Review | May 9, 2015
Written by Dorothy Hearst
Age Range: 10 and up
Paperback: 341 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
What to Expect: Wolves, Acceptance, Rivalry, Adventure
Wolf Kaala is born different. An outcast from birth, Kaala will have to fight to be accepted into the Swift River wolf pack. Not only is Kaala an outsider, but she also bears the mark of the crescent moon, a bad omen among wolves. She should be afraid and work hard for acceptance, try and do as the others do to become a member of the wolf pack her own mother was banished from, but Kaala is a fighter, and she’s not willing to listen to one version of a story: Kaala needs the truth.
Kaala is given until winter to prove herself worthy of becoming a member of the pack – not an easy task when the wolf leader despises you and you are drawn to the one thing that is strictly forbidden by all wolves: contact with humans.
But there is growing unrest in the Wide Valley, with scarce food and rivalry for claiming territories adding to the tension. As Kaala goes searching for answers for herself and for the wolves, she strays onto a dangerous path, a path the Greatwolves have been guarding for the Ancients, one they do not want crossed, one that humans inhabit. Kaala desperately seeks acceptance and love, but will she find it in the companionship of her pack, or in the arms of humans, who, with their sharpsticks and past wars, are prophesized to bring nothing but destruction to all of wolfkind?
Dorothy Hearst’s dazzling debut novel, Promise of the Wolves, beckons the reader to not only walk alongside Kaala but become a member of her pack, too, for Heart’s evidently exhaustive research into the lives – mannerisms, habits, and all – is fiercely acute and observant, each action and insight into the lives of the wolves believable and educational.
And then there’s the story. Rich and vivid, the landscape, myths, friendships and foes, are mesmerizing. It’s hard not to be instantly pulled into Kaala’s story, with such a natural fluency – a real storyteller’s voice – and plenty of adventure thrown in from the get-go. The warm yet delicate balance of friendship between humans and wolves is grounded in reality, with a good dose of imaginative myth added to the mix.
Young or old, those looking for a unique and observant story will fall in love with spirited Kaala, rooting for her fight to keep the bond between humans and wolves alive.
About the Author
Before the wolves barged in the door, demanding that their story be told, Dorothy Hearst was a senior editor at Jossey-Bass, where she published books for nonprofit, public, and social change leaders. She currently lives, writes, and plays with dogs in Berkeley, California. Spirit of the Wolves, the third and final title in the Wolf Chronicles, will be released December 2. For more information, and to download free CCSS-aligned discussion questions for all three novels, visit her website: dorothyhearst.com.
Promise of the Wolves, written by Dorothy Hearst, was reviewed by Charlie Kennedy. Follow along with our book reviews and articles tagged with Acceptance, Adventure, Dorothy Hearst, Rivalry, Wolves and our Young Adult Books category to discover more great novels.