Drew Ferran was raised on a rural farmstead in an area called the Cold Coast. Drew lived the simple life with his family until tragedy struck one night while his father and brother were away at market. A monster invades their home. While terrified, Drew unleashes a beast from within himself that he never knew existed. His father and brother return to a gruesome scene of Drew huddled over his bloodied mother. Confusion and rage ensue as the blame quickly falls on Drew. He is forced to flee his own home to the forests where he has to survive on his own. Isolated and alone, Drew must come to terms with his demons and his destiny.
It has been awhile since I’ve read something in the young adult category. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the simple way these stories are told. The drawback of its simplicity is that the plot is quite transparent — I knew what was ultimately going to happen by the end of the second or third chapter. Even so, it was still a very enjoyable journey. Despite my initial reservations about the simple plot, I found myself excited to come home from work and buzz through a few chapters before bed.
The characters are likable in Rise of the Wolf, even if they are the typical Rurals, Royalty, and Renegades (my three R’s of fantasy characters) you see in most medieval fantasy. It’s also the Werecreateures themselves. The Weres retain most of their cognitive ability when transformed; They can even talk. Weres are also the royalty of this world. They pass down the transforming abilities genetically. Families of Werebears, boars, lions, and others are the nobles that control the various lands that make up the kingdom of Lyssia.
I changed my star rating for Rise of the Wolf three times. Bouncing from 3 to 3.5 before settling on the higher score of 4 stars. I was torn because I actually liked the book a great deal, but could not shake the feeling that such a cool idea for a world was wasted on another “farm boy finds his destiny” story line. I then came to the conclusion that I’m not your typical 13 year old. I am in fact 30, and have read more fantasy than your average young adult. If I had stumbled across Rise of the Wolf at an earlier age, it might very well be listed as one my favorite books and I’d think back on it fondly. Kind of like books you read a long time ago which might not now speak to you as they once did. The classic concepts used in Rise of the Wolf would have been new to me when I was the age this book was intended for. I figured it wasn’t quite fair to hold it to the same standards as the books I typically read.
Rise of the Wolf is the start of a new series by Curtis Jobling. Jobling has vast experience in communicating to a young audience. He is after all, the creator of Bob the Builder. If you are familiar with Jobling then you need to rid yourself of any preconceptions immediately. Rise of the Wolf is very much young adult complete with lots of blood, torture, and general mayhem. Nothing too graphic for 12 or 13 year olds, but I hesitate to recommend it for anyone younger than that. Parents should definitely give it a read first. Overall I found the characters to be charming, and the story engaging and fun — exactly what a YA book should be. The ending left no question that the intention is to release more WEREWORLD books, and I truly hope they do.
You can also learn more about Jobling's books at the Fantasyliterature Curtis Jobling page