Don't Call the Wolf
A forest, besieged. A queen, unyielding. Fans of Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black will devour this deliciously dark Eastern European–inspired YA fantasy debut.When the Golden Dragon descended on the forest of Kamiena, a horde of monsters followed in its wake.Ren, the forest’s young queen, is slowly losing her battle against them. Until she rescues Lukasz—the last survivor of a heroic regiment of dragon slayers—and they strike a deal. She will help him find his brother, who vanished into her forest… if Lukasz promises to slay the Dragon.But promises are all too easily broken.

Don't Call the Wolf Details

TitleDon't Call the Wolf
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 28th, 2020
PublisherHarperTeen
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, Dragons

Don't Call the Wolf Review

  • ✨ A ✨
    January 1, 1970
    Wolves. Dragons. Polish folk lore. And a pretty cover. ....This is how you get my attention. ARC recieved from publishers via edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
  • Candace Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    Eh, so while I loved the cover for one this so much, I was a bit confused by this world! Lovely writing but just very confused.
  • ♠ Tabi ♠
    January 1, 1970
    "Don't call the wolf from the forest." I should have listened to the title of this book because, yikes, I was stunningly disappointed with this. It tries so hard to be a Leigh Bardugo-type fantasy but it ISN'T because there really is no definite, interest-grabbing plot. It tries so hard to be super magical but ends up throwing too many creatures and myths at you without taking time to develop them into the world of this book . . . which even then the world isn't that greatly-written, either. "Don't call the wolf from the forest." I should have listened to the title of this book because, yikes, I was stunningly disappointed with this. It tries so hard to be a Leigh Bardugo-type fantasy but it ISN'T because there really is no definite, interest-grabbing plot. It tries so hard to be super magical but ends up throwing too many creatures and myths at you without taking time to develop them into the world of this book . . . which even then the world isn't that greatly-written, either. There are some pretty moments and some decent lines scattered throughout, but overall as I read this book I liked it less and less. It just tries too hard to be great but ultimately fails into a lengthy, tangled mess with a truly laughable finale that is just . . . too happy. And while there is blood and guts in here, it feels a bit fake cause it's like a kids fairy-tale someone tried to make "mature" just by slapping some violence into things. And the romance??? Wow, terrible cliches everywhere. So, yeah, color me highly disappointed with this.Longer, probably saltier RTC after publication dateI received a digital ARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Quotes in the review and reading updates were taken from an uncorrected ARC copy.
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  • anna (readingpeaches)
    January 1, 1970
    THIS BETTER BE GOOD OR MY POLISH ASS IS SUINGedit: the author is actually polish so this is giving me much more hope !
  • Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]
    January 1, 1970
    ARC received in exchange for an honest review - thank you! Probably the one thing you should know is that Aleksandra Ross can WRITE. The prose in Don’t Call the Wolf is absolutely gorgeous, dark and lyrical without being purple, like (dare I say it) Leigh Bardugo herself. The writing is basically most of the reason this book gets 4 stars.In giving this rating, I’m forgiving a range of plot holes and clichés, which will be detailed below. The best way to think of this book is as a fairytale – ARC received in exchange for an honest review - thank you! Probably the one thing you should know is that Aleksandra Ross can WRITE. The prose in Don’t Call the Wolf is absolutely gorgeous, dark and lyrical without being purple, like (dare I say it) Leigh Bardugo herself. The writing is basically most of the reason this book gets 4 stars.In giving this rating, I’m forgiving a range of plot holes and clichés, which will be detailed below. The best way to think of this book is as a fairytale – with all the positives and negatives that entails. Twenty-one-year-old Lukasz Smoków is the last of the Wolf-Lords. Seventeen years ago, he and his nine older brothers fled the Mountains that were their home when the evil Golden Dragon descended on it. Then they made their name in the land as dragon slayers, the Brygada Smoka, part of the Wrony – the king’s army. But slowly, one by one, his brothers have all vanished into the Mountains – and now Lukasz is the only one left. For a thousand years, our people have run with wolves and slain dragons. We are heirs to gold and fire, baptised under ice, destined to inherit a tradition as ancient as the hills themselves. Whatever lengths we travel, Lukasz, whatever worlds we visit: we shall be buried in the shadow of the Mountains, beneath the blessings of wolves. When he loses his sword hand in a tussle with a dragon, Lukasz decides he has no choice but to go into the Mountains himself, following the footsteps of his older brother Franciszek. There’s a chance Franciszek is still alive and Lukasz is determined to save him. But the advent of the Golden Dragon has resulted in plenty of other evil creatures infesting the forest. There are vila, nocnica, rusalki, and worse, strzygi, which are born from the bodies of dead humans. Lukasz’s journey is almost over before it can begin when he’s dragged into the water by a rusalka.Then he’s saved by Ren.Seventeen-year-old Ren is the queen of the forest, sometimes a girl and sometimes a lynx, running wild with her lynx brother Rýsz and a talking wolf named Czarn. There is nothing she hates more than humans. They come into her forest and destroy it, and try to entrap the supernatural creatures who call it home. Yet she saves Lukasz anyway, and they make a deal: he’ll kill the Golden Dragon terrorising her forest if she leads the way. Together with an enigmatic Wrony soldier named Koszmar, a colourless girl named Felka, and the scientist Jakub whose face Ren ruined, they set out for the Mountains. Along the way they encounter gods, demons, and everything in between.So, yes, the writing was stunning. There are SO MANY phrases I plan to highlight once I get my hands on a print copy. The scene where Lukasz is drowning, and they go underwater into the rusalka’s lair? Fabulous. Almost everything was beautifully and emotionally described. I honestly can’t get enough of Ross’s prose style. In this respect, it was incredibly fairy-tale-like and atmospheric, all about gossamer and magic and bones and kisses.The Polish mythology was also brilliant. We get everything thrown at us, little flashes of all the kinds of creatures which inhabit Slavic folklore. I hugely enjoyed reading about them. There’s also an interesting author’s note at the back which goes into more depth about the origins and pronunciations of all the words.The world-building, I was broadly fine with. It isn’t great – all the action happens either in the forest/Mountains or Miasto, the capital of their country Welona. There’s no discussion of magic. Ross set up the bones of a really interesting world and I’d have loved to explore it more. Nevertheless, I was able to suppress most of the questions I had and I enjoyed what we did get. Unfortunately, I had several issues with its content. The book’s conception of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ was, at times, disappointingly simplistic. Ren got given a lot of screen time to be a multifaceted character, both cruel and kind, and that was great. But I felt deprived of the same nuance when it came to the other characters. There are some excellent secondary characters, and (avoiding spoilers) what happens to one of them makes me feel infuriated and let down. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. It felt like a case of ‘evil people come to bad ends’ and we constantly got told he was evil EVEN THOUGH HE NEVER ACTUALLY DID ANYTHING EVIL so I guess that’s why he had to go the way he did. The ending was also ridiculously deus ex machina . A huge bunch of things happen in rapid succession, most of which aren’t explained very well and shouldn’t even be possible. Prior to that the book had spent a lot of time setting up the atmosphere, and I hated to see how it was wrecked by a careless and unrealistically fairy-tale-like ending which didn’t make sense at all. Like (again avoiding spoilers) there’s something which they need to kill the Golden Dragon, and it’s been missing for a thousand years and nobody has been able to find it, but then Ren just… does? Not even in a weird location? Am I supposed to believe it evaded the detection of a millennia of people but not her? Little things like that began showing up regularly once we neared the end of the book. Ren is a little bit of a Mary Sue and that got annoying really fast. She’s stupendously gorgeous (we’re told on multiple occasions that she’s ‘perfect’ and ‘flawless’) and EVERYONE LOVES HER. EVERYBODY. Even Baba Jaga, yes, that Baba Jaga, falls under Ren’s spell for no discernible reason whatsoever. Lukasz, of course, was a goner (almost literally, what with the rusalka) the moment he laid eyes on her. The romance, especially at the beginning, did have a heavy sense of ‘two attractive people are attracted to each other and thus let there be love.’ Overall It feels like the author realised she was taking up too many pages so she rushed the end. That’s by far the worst bit of the whole book. Apart from that, I loved the beginning/middle, and the insanely quotable writing definitely makes this book a must-read.[Blog] - [Bookstagram]
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  • ʙᴇʟʟᴀ.: ☾**:.☆*.:。.
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)Don't call the wolf tells us the story of Ren, a girl that is the Queen of the Forest and Lukasz, the last Wolf-Lord. In this world, Wolf-Lords are Dragon Slayers. Ren is a lynx shape-shifter and is trying to save her forest from the evil monsters plaguing it, especially the strzygi which are a sort of zombie creatures that are infesting the forest. Lucasz crosses paths with Ren in the forest and after that ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)Don't call the wolf tells us the story of Ren, a girl that is the Queen of the Forest and Lukasz, the last Wolf-Lord. In this world, Wolf-Lords are Dragon Slayers. Ren is a lynx shape-shifter and is trying to save her forest from the evil monsters plaguing it, especially the strzygi which are a sort of zombie creatures that are infesting the forest. Lucasz crosses paths with Ren in the forest and after that fated encounter the two of them become allies in their quest: she needs his help to save the forest, and he needs her help to find his brother. They are joined by a group of characters as they journey together. Let me say this beforehand: this book has NOTHING of Leigh Bardugo's style or characters-alike. This is what I call wrong marketing. If anything, this should be compared to Naomi Novik because there's zero percent Bardugo in it, unless you count the Russian mythology. About the characters, Ren was a complex, strong girl and I liked her a lot. However, I'm not particularly fond of the trope "everyone loves her because yes". There were characters in the group who barely interacted with her and yet they loved her...it just sounds too convenient for me. Nevertheless she was a great heroine, reversing the tropes of a damsel in distress and actively saving herself and others. I loved how she was brave and kind, stubborn but not to the point of being annoying, which is rare in heroines nowadays. Lucasz was a cinnamon roll and I loved how respectful he was to Ren. It broke my heart the way he cared for his family. He had an amazing family and his backstory was the best. However, regarding Ren, his insta-love aka love at first sight, was a bit too much? It was way too fast. However, I enjoyed that the author did his relationship with Ren a slow-burn, and I really shipped these two. It was one of the cutest relationships in YA I've read in the past years. The writing quality here is amazing and the world-building was absolutely awesome, from creepy monsters to shape-shifters and the forest and all the creatures felt like an old fairytale, very atmospheric and unique. As for the supporting characters I loved Felka and the representation of strong female friendship she portrayed. Koszmar was hands down my favorite character. Had he been one of the main I would have given this a much higher rating, because there was so many sides to him worth knowing and such underlying complexity that was never allowed to develop further. He was the kind of supporting character that of given the chance would have outshined the protagonist in a splendid way. I feel so sorry when a character with huge potential is left stagnant because of plot devices. Czarn and Rhys were lovely but I couldn't feel their connection to Ren as I was supposed to. I had expected a stronger bond and stronger emotions. I really enjoyed that the author put Jakub in the group and it was refreshing to see an older adult in the midst of teens and young adults. I really enjoyed the pacing and the plot, however, even before the moment we got the Dragon's first POV I foresaw everything that was going to happen regarding the Dragons and hence, there were no twists to me regarding that matter. I wish I could have been surprised because the Dragon's plot was very predictable. In sum, this book had good things and bad things. The end felt too convenient and Deus Ex-Machina. A certain character had an end that he did not deserve while others had a too much unbelievable happy end. However, I cannot deny the little gem this book is. It is lovely and fairytale-like and the descriptions of the places and imagery are so well-done that there was never a dull moment in this book for me...it felt like a true adventure in a old fairytale book. I'd recommend this to Naomi Novik's fans or fans of Grimm's fairytales.Real Rating: 3,5 Stars
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  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    POLISH FOLKLORE!!!!! 2020 can‘t come fast enough
  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)In Don't Call the Wolf, I really liked the world building. There's dragons, which are always an instant-win for me, but also other Eastern European folklore creatures such as rusalkas and Baba Yaga. Told in dual POV, Don't Call the Wolf examines loyalty and family. There are questions of our origin and those who have been led astray. Unfortunately, the romance felt too disjointed and I (Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)In Don't Call the Wolf, I really liked the world building. There's dragons, which are always an instant-win for me, but also other Eastern European folklore creatures such as rusalkas and Baba Yaga. Told in dual POV, Don't Call the Wolf examines loyalty and family. There are questions of our origin and those who have been led astray. Unfortunately, the romance felt too disjointed and I was left with more questions than answers. Thematically I enjoyed some of the questions Don't Call the Wolf asks - are we truly the monsters we think we are? And the world building was fabulous, but the chapters delving into the past were confusing at first and at the end of the day I felt like I had a better sense of Lukasz than Ren. For the majority of the book I was reading because of the world, but I wasn't sure what was happening in the plot. By the time more things start occurring, I was left with many questions as well.
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  • Nia •ShadesOfPaper•
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you HarperCollins and HarperTeen for the ARC.Blog | Twitter | Instagram | BlogLovin’
  • Lexie
    January 1, 1970
    This is Polish folklore and my heritage is Polish so super interested! Hope it's good! The premise sounds intriguing.
  • Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
    January 1, 1970
    Dragons, dragon-slayers and a half-human/half-monster queen? I'm in!
  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not quite sure what to make of Don't Call the Wolf. The story follows Ren, a girl who can turn into a lynx and is queen of the forest, and Lukasz, the last of a mythical line of warriors called Wolf-Lords. Both Ren and Lukasz want to rid the forest of the Golden Dragon, which has been causing destruction and bringing about the return of all sorts of terrible monsters. The book has a lot of fantasy elements but felt more like a zombie novel in terms of pacing and plot structures. The I'm not quite sure what to make of Don't Call the Wolf. The story follows Ren, a girl who can turn into a lynx and is queen of the forest, and Lukasz, the last of a mythical line of warriors called Wolf-Lords. Both Ren and Lukasz want to rid the forest of the Golden Dragon, which has been causing destruction and bringing about the return of all sorts of terrible monsters. The book has a lot of fantasy elements but felt more like a zombie novel in terms of pacing and plot structures. The world-building was very original and also quite challenging to follow at times. There were loads of super cool, incredibly fresh monsters but it could be hard to keep track of what all of them were. I was very confused for the first 100 or so pages and at some point just decided that it didn't matter if I never got the world-building explanations I was looking for. The main characters were actually my least favorite of the bunch. There were so many delightful side characters -- from Ren's brothers Czarn and Rhys who are talking wolves to Jakub who wants to become a professor on monsters -- that made the story significantly richer. In the midst of a story about the need to save the forest from the Golden Dragon, the side characters did a great job reminding the reader why the main quest was so important. (view spoiler)[I could've done without the insta-love between Ren and Lukasz. While they spend a decent bit of the book pretending to hate each other, it's clear from the first scene together that the two will end up as a couple. I never really got what each saw in the other and didn't gain anything from the romance element of the story. (hide spoiler)]Don't Call the Wolf was a mixed bag for me. I found the setting and monsters inventive but was sometimes frustrated by the lack of explanation as to how the world worked. While I didn't like the main characters much, I was attached to a lot of the side characters. Overall, I would say this is a solid fairytale-esque fantasy. Trigger warnings: gore, animal death, death of a loved one (on-page) Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Miranda Reads
    January 1, 1970
    That cover looks positively enchanting. Love it already.With thanks to the author for a free copy in exchange for an honest reviewYouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat @miranda.reads
  • Fanna
    January 1, 1970
    - debut novel perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black- based on the Polish fairy tale “The Glass Mountain"- feys, monsters, dark magic- slow-burn romance- dragons & witches
  • Olivia & Lori (The Candid Cover)
    January 1, 1970
    When I read for fans of Leigh Bardugo in the synopsis, I became immediately intrigued. Six of Crows has got to be one of my all-time favourite series. A book that features dragonslayers just sounds epic, doesn’t it?!
  • Salma19 (High Lady of the Dawn Court)
    January 1, 1970
    It sounds so good! I hoped it would have been released a little bit earlier. It got some whimsical winter vibe :) and would match the weather so well!
  • Literary Belle
    January 1, 1970
    Polish high fantasy by a Polish author #ownvoices So excited!
  • Christina (Ensconced in Lit)
    January 1, 1970
    I skimmed through this entire book. The beginning was interesting with a different folklore than I had seen with the wolf lords and killing of dragons. Also the female MC was interesting and a shapeshifter. That said, the plot moved like molasses and progressed exactly as it seemed it would with no twists. Just not my kind of read but will likely appeal to those who enjoy retelling of fairytales.
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  • Alice Reeds
    January 1, 1970
    As Polish person I'm honestly BEYOND excited for this book, and so curious. Can't wait to read it! :D
  • Holly Hughes
    January 1, 1970
    They have such a capacity to change...and I think that is their real magic. They hold such darkness, these humans, but they still choose the light. My full review is available on my blog!Honestly, it's taken a few days to write this review because I'm torn over how to feel after having finished Don't Call the Wolf. There were lots of things I loved. But there were also elements that left me... disappointed.Undeniably,the book's largest strength is in Aleksandra Ross' writing. Her prose is They have such a capacity to change...and I think that is their real magic. They hold such darkness, these humans, but they still choose the light. My full review is available on my blog!Honestly, it's taken a few days to write this review because I'm torn over how to feel after having finished Don't Call the Wolf. There were lots of things I loved. But there were also elements that left me... disappointed.Undeniably, the book's largest strength is in Aleksandra Ross' writing. Her prose is beautiful and makes for an immersive and enjoyable reading experience. Her descriptions are atmospheric, and I lost count of the passages that I marked with post-its. I will gladly pick up her future books because I'm certain her writing will retain that same magic regardless of the story she's telling.However, while I initially loved the manner in which protagonists Ren and Lukasz were pitted against each other—there's few things I enjoy more for the pairings in the books I read than the tried-and-true trope of enemies-to-lovers—it was quickly cast aside in favour of instant attraction meets inevitable (but also ingenuine) denial.I will also be entirely honest here, I've come to accept that I'm a lot less forgiving of how relationship dynamics are executed (for better or worse, but particularly for worse) when the pairing is straight.Basically, this culminates in several hundred pages of disjointed growth and a severe lack of the promised "simmering tension" leading up to the moment the characters profess their feelings. The result? It's really, really difficult for me to be invested Ren and Lukasz making it to the last page and (hopefully) getting their happily ever after. And speaking of endings: it felt too rushed, with too many revelations explained in rapid succession (and that don't feel like proper, fully fleshed out explanations, either).In the end, in many ways, I found the book's strengths just as quickly turned into it's weaknesses. And by the time I turned the final page, I was left with too many questions that I felt needed answers, and the sense that things concluded a little too perfectly—even for a fairy tale.
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  • micolreads
    January 1, 1970
    I struggled to finish this book. It started with a promising plot, promising characters, but all I got in the end was a bit of confusion about everything. I think the style of writing was trying to be way too pompous that made the read hard. I did not feel a connection with any character and it just made me grow annoyed over everyone.I did not hate this book though; I just didn’t find the writing style and plot overall to give it more than 2.5 stars. The thing that actually saved this book from I struggled to finish this book. It started with a promising plot, promising characters, but all I got in the end was a bit of confusion about everything. I think the style of writing was trying to be way too pompous that made the read hard. I did not feel a connection with any character and it just made me grow annoyed over everyone.I did not hate this book though; I just didn’t find the writing style and plot overall to give it more than 2.5 stars. The thing that actually saved this book from a DNF was the world building and all the backstory about the monsters.Final vote: 2.5/5Ebook provided by Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review. The copy provided is not the ultimate version, something could change before publication.
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  • Yara
    January 1, 1970
    Very cute read. It’s a little too juvenile (more like middle grade) but I loved it all the same. The characters are endearing, the setting is magical, the monsters are scary but manageable, and there are characters that turn out to be something you weren’t expecting. I loved the Polish references to clothes, foods, monsters names, etc. And it’s a stand-alone :) Overall I really liked this and recommend.
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  • Greyland Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    My little Polish* heart is so ready for this!*(I'm only a quarter Polish, with many other parts of me being Irish, Scottish, German, Russian, and Crow).
  • Sanne ♔ (Sanne and the Books)
    January 1, 1970
    well hello this sounds hella interesting. why did i not hear about this sooner?
  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    A very dynamic written book, but with a very confusing plot at times. Interesting characters, monster, and imagery just not for me.
  • Kelsey
    January 1, 1970
    [Late March expiry]
  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    I edited this, so of course I love it. But I think a lot of you will, too: it's a dark, sumptuous journey through a deadly forest; it's a love story that crackles with tension; it's a fairytale retelling, but one you haven't seen too many times before. I fell in love with wary Ren and exhausted Lukasz (#relatable), with the dragons and wolves and lynxes and nymphs that populate this forest, with their quest and the gnarled twists it takes. Can't wait for all of you to meet them, too!
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