Sue Bursztynski

Woolshed Press (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-86471-825-6

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Etienne is not really interested in being a warrior, but as his family’s only son, he is sent to Lucanne to complete his training with Lord Geraint. As a page in the kindly lord’s household, Etienne is to learn how to rule his own estates, when the time comes. When Geraint goes missing on harvest night, Etienne meets the wisewoman Sylvie and her unusual daughter Jeanne, and begins to suspect that all is not as it seems with his lord. Etienne then becomes caught up in a plot to destroy Geraint’s life, a plot that separates them all from their loved ones and regular worlds, and sees them embroiled in the doings of shapechangers and gods.

Based on a medieval romance, Wolfborn takes from history in many ways but in the process creates a richly detailed fantasy world, blending adventure, romance and paranormal elements to create a coming of age story that is quite unique.

I completely enjoyed reading this advance review copy of Wolfborn (due out in December 2010) but I feel it could have been expanded further. At times it felt like the author was rushing through plot development just to get to the end, particularly in the first half of the book. I would have liked to see more fleshing out of all the characters, their backstories, and their relationships, for a stronger overall story. For my mind, there is enough story here for a much longer book, or perhaps, a short YA trilogy. There were definitely places within the plot that would have been natural end points of ending for sequential books, and given that sort of freedom, a fuller, more rounded story may have evolved. I don’t mean the story would have been padded out, only that the characters could have had more flesh on their bones, while providing more scope in the storytelling. Many events we only hear secondhand through Etienne, and there is certainly opportunity to show these in a more immediate way.

Having said that, the story races along and keeps reader interest high. I found it hard to put the book down, and was sad to come to the end. I can see Wolfborn being very popular among the target readership and will certainly be buying copies for my school library!