Monday, 18 April 2011
MG Monday: Review: Wolven by Di Toft
Author: Di Toft
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: 3 Aug 2009
Synopsis: From Amazon
WOLVEN is a fantasy firmly rooted in the mysterious present. A boy and his eccentric grandparents live near a strange wood - apparently cursed. He longs for a dog - but the dirty ungainly farm creature finally found by his grandfather hardly fits his image of the perfect pet. And it howls in the night. But it's only when his dog starts to grow human ears that he realises that something is seriously wrong. The truth is stranger than his wildest dreams -the boy who appears, alarmingly unpredictably, is a kind of special werewolf in reverse. A noble, almost heraldic breed of WOLVEN - the kings own werewolves from ancient times, who have been in hiding until rediscovered by evil government scientists who are trying to breed werewolves as weapons.
This book just jumped out at me from the instant I set eyes on it. The cover is holographic and a lot of my pupils played with it much to my annoyance when I was trying to read it in a free lesson. The basic premise of the story gives the saying 'man's best friend' a whole new meaning. Plus there is a nefarious secret government society, you know I love conspiracy theories.
Following an intriguing start the story begins to fill with an array of colourful characters glorious to imagine. The ingenious use of Greek mythology added to the basic storyline giving the narrative another dimension.The use of third person omniscient narration allows insight into the multi-levels of the plot without being distracting or losing focus.
The descriptive writing style appeals to all the senses - not particularly appealing when you have a horrific, smelly werewolf in you imagination. The colloquialisms and regional dialect used added to the realism and three dimensional quality of the characters. The realism of the prose was also aided by the topical references to farming, animal experimentation and hunting. Some of the imagery conjured with regard to the tortured wolven was quite horrific and might not be suitable to more sensitive children.
The weaving of medieval history into the narrative was a masterful stroke; the similarities expressed between the Templar's and witches including their persecution was fascinating. The way in which education was depicted via television has humorous but also quite scary on a subconscious level. the funny references and one liners from commercials and TV shows lighten the atmosphere. I felt really, really old at the mention of The Wurzels (my mum used to listen to them).
The suspense is well paced, little tidbits of information are scattered through the narrative developing the background plot. The depiction of bullies being cowards underneath really shone through the story. 'Man's' cruelty in the pursuit of power brought up images of Hitler and the atrocities and horror he caused in his quest for domination.
There are a few surprises along the way but the conclusion to the story was nice, the open ending promising adventures to come. I for one will certainly be picking up the next book to see what is in store for Nat and Woody.