Sunday 8 February 2015

Guardians of the Wild: A Whisper of Wolves by Kris Humphrey

Alice wished that the demons were just ancient history, but she knew better than that. The missing hunters and the changes in the forest were small things, coincidences perhaps, but Alice felt a growing fear that something sinister was behind it all – and she knew Storm and the other wolves shared her suspicions.
224 pages
Paperback due 2nd March 2015 from Stripes Publishing
Summary from Publisher’s website
When a raven drops a white feather at the doorstep on the day of your birth, it is a symbol of your destiny. You are a Whisperer – a guardian of the wild.
Many years have passed since the people of Meridina last knew war, but a shadow has settled over the kingdom. When Alice and her companion, Storm, sense a demonic presence in the forests, they send for help. But they’re running out of time. With the entire balance of the natural world at stake, will Alice and Storm have to face the demons alone?
This is the first in a four-part series featuring different children with animal companions who have to save their world from the evil Narlaw. It’s an appealing concept – and another in the growing trend of featuring the natural world in books for children – hoorah! As anyone who
knows children is aware, animals and nature have a deep resonance with younger readers. Anything that focuses the great outdoors as an alternative to a purely ‘virtual’ existence has a head start for many children – and a place in my heart.
It’s quite short – and fairly easy to read. It does move from Alice’s point of view to Dawn’s on occasion – though not without signal. Any reasonably competent reader would enjoy the adventure as it zips along. There are some frightening scenes – but the resilience of the main characters really helps you feel it will work out - somehow. That means I can recommend it for younger fluent readers – unless they are sensitive about demons and the like. One of the best aspects is the gender balance. This story passes the Bechdel Test – and then some. There are lots of male and female characters in important roles – which is an improvement on many traditional fantasies I have read or watched. I have hopes that the next story ‘Warning Cry’ will be even more inclusive. Surely Nara from the remote savannah with her leopard companion, Flame, won’t disappoint?
This first story has an attractive cover which gives a flavour of the book: full of green forest trees and featuring our heroines, Alice and Storm: I wish I knew who did it to give them due credit.
All in all, an enjoyable fantasy read for the younger fluent reader with a soft spot for magic and animals. I will be interested to see the series progress in summer 2015.

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