(D) Ages 10-12, (E) Ages 12-15, Adventure/Thriller, Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Middle Grades
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The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

A teenage “Mad Wolf’s Daughter” in late medieval Scotland stakes her claim to legendary status. Ages 10-14

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras.  Penguin 2018, 256 pages

Reading Level: Middle Grades, 10-12

Recommended for: ages 10-14

On the night the invaders came to raid the Mad Wolf’s camp, only one of the war chief’s family sounded the warning.  And only one escaped the raiders, and witnessed Grimbol and all five of his warrior sons captured and bound aboard Lord Fauntree’s ship.  That one is the youngest, and the only girl, Drest.  Now, only one can save Grimbol and his sons from certain execution.  All she has is a sword, her own determination, and a bargaining chip: the young knight left behind by the raiding party.  He’s injured (presumed dead), which puts him at her mercy.  What’s more, he seems to be someone of importance.  If she can transport him from her cove to Fauntree Castle in five days, there may be some way to save her kin.  But she can’t trust the knight, and there are perils along the way.

The 15th-century Scottish setting feels authentic, and in some ways this is a throwback, an adventure story along the lines of Ivanhoe or The Scottish Chiefs.  What sets it apart from those classics is the hero, a girl of indeterminate age (12? 14?) who’s every bit as tough, brave, and wily as any of her brothers.  What she lacks in brawn she makes up in courage and cleverness, and where other family members are merciless she allows room for tenderness.  Drest is almost too much of a paragon—we don’t see any weaknesses to overcome, only challenges to meet.  She  also meets a colorful cast of characters, from treacherous nobles to mysterious witches to wise allies (and one crow).  Some background material remains blank, such as Who was her mother?  And some plot threads are left hanging, so look for further adventures of “the Legend.”

Cautions: Language (a few instances of medieval swearing, such as “God’s bones”); Violence (not graphic), Worldview (sympathetic witches)

Overall rating: 3.75 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5
  • Artistic value: 4

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