The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars by Shivaun Plozza
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publishing Date: November 17th, 2020
A boy and his pet fox go on a quest to find a wolf who has eaten all the stars in the sky before the Shadow Witch destroys the stars and removes good magic from the world forever.
Long ago, the land of Ulv was filled with magic. But that was before a wolf ate all the Stars in the night sky, ridding the world of magic and allowing Shadow Creatures, beasts made of shadow and evil, to flourish. Twelve-year-old Bo knows the stories but thinks the Stars and the wolf who ate them are nothing more than myths—until the day Bo’s guardian, Mads, is attacked by a giant wolf straight from the legends. With his dying breath, Mads tells Bo that Ulv is in danger and the only way to prevent the Shadow Creatures from taking over is to return the Stars to the sky.
And so Bo—accompanied by his best friend, a fox called Nix, a girl named Selene who’s magic is tied to the return of the Stars, and Tam, a bird-woman who has vowed to protect Bo at all costs—sets off on a quest to find the three magical keys that will release the Stars. But Bo isn’t the only one who wants the Stars, and the friends soon find themselves fleeing angry villagers, greedy merchants, and a vengeful wolf. And all the while, an evil witch lurks in the shadows and time is running out.
Why is it that middle-grade books have the best ability to nearly reduce me to tears? A story about a boy who makes a mistake and puts in a phenomenal effort to put it right with the help of his newfound friends who become more of a family. You can’t help but feel for Bo – even though he technically has the most basic needs met, he lacks a home. Without Nix, I have a feeling the Bo we go on an adventure within The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars would not be the same boy. The story behind the Un-King and his mentality reminds me of a character that you would find in Wonderland. Tam was by far my favorite character (besides Nix), and seeing her dedication to Bo was heart-warming.
The land of Ulv is beautifully described – even right down to the gloomy and haunting forests, the names of which have more meaning than Bo thought they did. The finished book will feature a map, and I can’t wait to see it – I LOVE book maps. My favorite area was the Forest of Tid, and I would be just as enchanted with it as Bo was. Tam’s home with the Korahku, while interesting, would be downright creepy – I’m not entirely sure I would be willing to enter that area of Ulv. I will admit I wish the story covered the weird beasties that often get mentioned throughout the story better. Are they real? I know at least some of them turned out to be.
“Doesn’t mean I’ll forget what they did and it doesn’t excuse it,” he said. “It means I won’t give them power over me anymore. Because that’s what hate does. It gets me all tangled up with people who don’t even care about me — trying to figure out why they treat me bad, what I did wrong, how I can get my revenge on them. But their hate isn’t my responsibility. I’ll do what I can to put things right but I won’t hate them; I won’t punish them like for like. I’ll fight back. I’ll make a difference. I might even forgive them one day, if they earn it. But I won’t let hate win.”
The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars was such a beautiful, mesmerizing book sprinkled with tough subjects for middle-grade readers. To name a few – the death of a loved one, abandonment, anger/hatred, mob mentality, and last but not least, warped opinions. It also has its fair share of positive things for kids to learn – the beauty of found family, defying ignorance, hate, and tradition, standing up for yourself and others, and believing in yourself. I would highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy magic, found family, middle-grade, and fantasy. If there ever happens to be a continuation of this story I will 100% read it. A huge thank you to TBR & Beyond, HMH Books for Young Readers, and Shivaun Plozza for the opportunity to read this beautiful adventure of a boy, his fox, and his chosen family – all opinions are my own.
Shivaun Plozza is an award-winning author of books for children and young adults. Her debut novel, Frankie, was a CBCA Notable Book and won a number of awards, including the Davitt Awards and a commendation from the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. Her second novel, Tin Heart, sold in three foreign territories, received two starred reviews, and was nominated to ALA’S Best Fiction for Young Adults list. Her debut middle-grade novel, The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars, is forthcoming in 2020 from HMH Books for Young Readers and Penguin Random House Australia. She is a frequent contributor to anthologies, and when she is not writing she works as an editor and manuscript assessor.