A vein of ice runs through this entire novel. Not because it lacks heart, quite the opposite. It's because it's set in the wilds of frozen Russia where Feo and her mother Marina tend to wolves that have been outcast by the Tsar's aristocratic government and the wealthy elite that reside there.
Living on their own, isolated from civilization, Feo and Marina are tough, human-wary folk interested in minding their own business and helping wolves.
After Feo befriends Ilya, a young solider defecting from the army, everything changes. Ilya starts to learn to trust and respect the wolves, not hunt them like the other soldiers.
Then one day Rakov, the army commander and his men come, burn down Feo's home and take Marina away to prison. Now, with the help of her three wolf companions and Ilya, Feo must embark on a suicide mission into the heart of the army's stronghold to get Marina back. Along the way they meet fiesta revolutionaries, dangerous soldiers and children willing to risk their lives to help their cause.
The Wolf Wilder is a story that insists on being read by a roaring fire next to a dog for company. Hopefully your own dog. Don't go and kidnap someone's dog.
You can feel the icy windy rip around your neck and face as Feo trudges half-dead to safety after her home is burned down by Rakov. You'll lean forward with excitement as she rallies her little army of misfits against him and his men. It's a great story that deserves the praise it's been getting.
I recommend this to Year 7 students and up!