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A Wolf for a Spell
By Karah Sutton
The Girl Who Drank the Moon meets Pax in this fantastical tale of a wolf who forms an unlikely alliance with Baba Yaga to save the forest from a wicked tsar.
Since she was a pup, Zima has been taught to fear humans—especially witches—but when her family is threatened, she has no choice but to seek help from the witch Baba Yaga.
Baba Yaga never does magic for free, but it just so happens that she needs a wolf’s keen nose for a secret plan she’s brewing… Before Zima knows what’s happening, the witch has cast a switching spell and run off into the woods, while Zima is left behind in Baba Yaga’s hut—and Baba Yaga’s body!
Meanwhile, a young village girl named Nadya is also seeking the witch’s help, and when she meets Zima (in Baba Yaga’s form), they discover that they face a common enemy. With danger closing in, Zima must unite the wolves, the witches and the villagers against an evil that threatens them all.
“Karah Sutton has crafted a vivid and rollicking adventure that proves a wolf doesn’t have to be big or bad to win the day!” —Rosanne Parry, New York Times bestselling author of A Wolf Called Wander
Published Dec 1st, 2020 by Alfre A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
This is the 2nd Middle School book I’ve read as an adult (and both just in this month alone) and I must say, I think I’ve been missing out on some really great reads. Where were these awesome books when I was in Middle School, I wonder?
As a child in school, I remember watching a short film that took place in snowy Russia, had a wolf and a boy as the main characters, fighting against some evil villain. I remember I really liked the short film, I can recall a few images in my mind, but that’s about it. I’m guessing now, that was probably a popular Russian fable and I think A Wolf for a Spell may loosely be based off of that particular fable, sort of like the reimagining of Fairy Tales that have gained popularity over the past several years. Like those, this book is so much fun!
And the cover! It is just simply beautiful. It’s like a piece of art that I want to have on my bookshelf, immediately!
A Wolf for a Spell is a beautifully written, magical tale that begins with a classic good vs evil scenario. Zima, the (good) wolf and Baba Yaga, the (evil) witch are both in need of life-altering assistance that only the other can provide.
“A crack and a snap split the air. And then the witch was before her. Baba Yaga. Zima had never seen her, but there was no mistaking the cane in her bony hand and the smell of magic clinging to her like smoke. Her skin was as rough and wrinkled as the bark of a pine, and what little gray hair she had stuck out in all directions from her head like many twigs forming a crown. Stone-gray teeth punctured shriveled gums.”
Zima has always been told by her pack to stay away from Baba Yaga and her evil magic as previous interactions with the witch have left other wolves forever cursed.
“Humans lie. The witch lies. Wolves do not lie.”
But when Zima’s family is in danger, Baba Yaga is the only source she can turn to for help.
Baba Yaga has never had the inclination to care about anyone or anything except her hut and her woods (and maybe her raven). But now an evil threatens to impose its will over her woods and the winds have whispered that she must find the grey wolf before it’s too late.
“For so long she’d been content to stay in her hut and let the problems of the outside world pass her by as though they didn’t concern her. But they did. The forest was now in danger because of her mistake – no, her choice. Of all the evils in the world, the greatest was the temptation of the easy path over the right one.”
Add to this interesting plot, 2 girls from the orphanage who will play very important roles in this story and you have a large female cast of characters that will have the ability to shape the future of their land. Go girl power!! The roller coaster of events will take you on an adventure that will definitely keep you up late at night (yes – I’m very sleep deprived this morning) to find out what happens.
There are some moments in the story with strong themes of family (both family chosen for you and family you chose) that will sufficiently warm your heart and keep you cozy on these long winter nights.
And don’t let the Young Adults label keep you away from these great stories. This is definitely worth the read, whether you are a YA or an Adult!
About the Author
Sutton is a former bookseller and a current writer, bird watcher, and Baba Yaga enthusiast. Her debut middle grade fantasy adventure A Wolf for a Spell is inspired by her Russian heritage and the fairytales that have enchanted her since childhood. Karah also works in marketing for the video game industry, and has had the pleasure of working with some of the world’s most respected and well-loved entertainment companies including Disney, DreamWorks, Fox, and Cartoon Network. A dual American/New Zealand citizen, she splits her time between her home town in Kentucky and Wellington, New Zealand.