The Wolf Hour
THE WOLF HOUR by Sara Lewis Holmes is both a fairytale retelling and something new entirely. The book focuses on Magia, a young girl who wants to be a woodcutter like her father. Unfortunately for her, the forest is a dangerous place that has wolves and Stories, and once anyone gets stuck in a Story, they’re stuck indefinitely. The witch in town has much to gain from these Stories playing out exactly as they should. However, when Magia finds herself caught in one that drastically impacts her family, she will do whatever it takes to escape the old woman’s powerful clutches.
Many often wonder why certain fables have endured the test of time. Holmes’ answer is much darker than one could have ever imagined. The way she incorporates The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood into her own novel demonstrates her explanatory twist on how these Stories could retain their lives. Somehow though, she creates a special kind of reverence for these old Stories without mocking them or treating them cynically. Instead, she maintains their mythical nature and breathes new life into them with a set of fresh circumstances.
I particularly love that THE WOLF HOUR takes place in a little Polish town. The image of a simple city draped against the backdrop of a vast, snow-covered wood, is beautiful and immediately magical. The use of the Polish language and unfamiliar words also adds a fantastical, otherworldly element. Though Poland is of course a real country and has a real language, it still functions as “a land far, far away,” for most readers of this particular book.
Overall, the plot is a bit slow at times and I would have liked to see even more fables creatively woven in, resulting in more unexpected circumstances and odd characters. With that being said, THE WOLF HOUR is definitely unique and chock-full of childhood nostalgia.