Shivaun Plozza, The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars, Penguin Random House Publishing, October 2020, 384 pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), 9781760893453
The Boy, The Wolf, and the Stars is the kind of adventure that will take young readers on a journey through an imaginative world, filled with myths that will capture their attention. Let’s not forget a healthy dose of humour, and a diverse trio out to save the land of Ulv.
When Mads, Bo’s guardian, is attacked by a wolf, Bo finds the myths he learned about the land of Ulv, and the disappearance of the stars in the sky just might be true –a wolf did eat them! Mads asks Bo to stop the Shadow Creatures from taking over Ulv by returning the stars to the sky.
It’s an epic quest for a young boy, but Bo is determined and weighed down by more than a little guilt in how his actions impacted Mads’s death. Accompanying him is his best friend Nix, a fox. Along the way they meet Tam a bird-woman and by all accounts someone Bo should fear but finds instead a brave friend. This trio becomes a quartet when they meet a girl names Selene, who can do magic, but in the land of Ulv, magic is feared.
Together they embark on a quest to find three keys that will release the stars into the sky, except they begin to find out that stories they thought were myths and legends are completely real.
These are characters who have had a difficult time in their pasts, who are feared for who they are, and sometimes ridiculed. Each believes they should fear the other for various reasons but, as they begin their adventure, they find instead in each other the kind of friendship that lasts a lifetime.
These friends embark on a journey into danger together, save each other, challenge each other and stand up for each other. This is a book that teaches young readers to believe in what they experience, and not the ugliness of rumours, no matter how legitimate they may sound.
It’s also a book about family and that you may find them in unexpected places – and how wonderful and strong these bonds can be.
The Boy, the Wolf and the Stars is a glorious read, and young readers will enjoy the journey through a world of magic, magical creatures with a quartet who find they aren’t alone in this world after all.
Reviewed by Verushka Byrow
Once Upon a time in the land of Ulv it was never truly Dark. During the day, the Sun would shine its Light upon the land, and once it retreated beyond the horizon the Moon and her daughters, the Stars, would take its place. The Stars were made of magic, and they would balance out all of the evil magic in the world. That is until a vengeful witch tricked a greedy wolf into eating the Stars, and Darkness descended upon the land. And people had reason to fear the Dark.
At least this is the story parents would tell their children at night, but 12-year-old Bo was too old for such stories. Anyway, no myth could stop the ravenous Shadow Creatures from running rampant each night when it turned Dark. Bo is shunned in the village, considered a curse, a leader of the Shadow Creatures, as when he was a baby he was abandoned in the forest and survived the night before being taken in by his current guardian Mads. His only and best friend is a fox called Nix.
However, one day Mads is attacked by a giant wolf straight out of legend. With his dying breath Mads tells Bo that a great evil has awoken and that their only hope is for him to find the three keys and release the Stars. But they aren’t the only ones after the Stars…
This fantastical story follows Bo through his quest as not only does he grapple with monsters, witches, and haunted forests, but also his inner grief, anger, guilt, feelings of abandonment, and self-hatred. Along the way he makes some unlikely friends who show him what love and loyalty are, and that hatred does nothing but hurt yourself.
I really enjoyed this gripping story and would recommend it to 8-12 year olds who like fantasy adventure books.
Reviewed by Libby Boas