Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Wolf Princess

The Wolf Princess

Fall 2013 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Cathryn Constable
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545528399
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Sophie Smith wishes something exciting would happen to her. At her London boarding school, she's a completely unremarkable charity student with messy hair and bad clothing; she isn't glamorous, like her friend Delphine, or a particularly good student, like her friend Marianne. At home, she's not only unremarkable, she's practically invisible; her father died when she was a child, and her guardian Rosemary has as little to do with her as possible. In her dreams, though, Sophie can still hear her father's voice, telling her stories of wolf princesses in the snowy forests of Russia, and she longs for that magical land of romantic tales. Her life seems destined for ordinariness, though, until a beautiful stranger appears at her school and takes a surprising interest in her. Sophie and her friends are unaccountably placed on a class trip to St. Petersburg, and even more unaccountably whisked away from their itinerary onto a train painted like a wolf's head, to a crumbling winter palace in the snow, where a fascinating and terrifying wolf princess waits for them.

This fast-paced novel is part Gothic suspense, part adventure, and part mystery. The plot is engaging, and the setting is richly described and evocative. The book depends for its appeal on some well-worn national stereotypes; French Delphine is stylish and a bit snobbish, and the Russian Revolution seems not to have made much of a lasting impact on most of the Russian characters in the novel, who are proud, noble, or cold if they are upper-class, and staunchly devoted to service if they are lower-class. Despite these problems, Sophie's fantasy of finding a place that is simultaneously exciting and homey is a compelling one, and young readers will enjoy unraveling the mystery at the heart of the novel.

Naomi Lesley   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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