Feo lives with her mother, and Black, Gray and White, the wolves that never left her, even after she finished wilding them. You see, Feo, is a wolf wilder. A long time ago, in Russia when the tzar still ruled, aristocrats (rich people) used to have wolves for pets. But once the “pets” outgrew their captivity as all wolves will at some point, they needed a place to get rid of them. That is where Feo’s family came in. For generations, Feo’s family has been teaching these captive raised wolves what it means to be a wolf again, and then releasing them into the wild. Because she and her mother have wolves around all the time, most people stay away from them.
All that changes one night when the local general, Rakov, forces his way into Feo’s house and says that the wolves they have sent back to the wild are actually killing the animals in the tzar’s forests and as such he demands compensation for the loss. Of course, Feo and her mother don’t have the money he demands. He then tells them if he catches Feo near any wolves, he’ll kill the wolves and arrest them both.
Feo doesn’t really think that will happen, but when another wolf gets dropped off at their door for wilding, Feo has no idea the storm that is about to irrupt and change her life forever.
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell is a non stop page turner. The wolves make the story as well as a host of other characters Feo encounters along the way. Although the story is set in pre revolutionary Russia, it is hard to know exactly which parts are historically accurate and which are just fun fiction. Still, the book is a quick and enjoyable read, one which this reader wishes had included an author’s note regarding the past or current practice of re-wilding animals.
Recommended for grades 6th and up.