Cover Image: A Wolf for a Spell

A Wolf for a Spell

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

A Wolf for a Spell

3.5 stars

What I like

This story was a truly wonderful fairytale read that is great for all ages. This reads more middle grade than YA, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it. I thought this book grazed some important and inspiring topics while also crafting a mildly dark and unique fairytale. This book was easy to read and easy to enjoy.

What I did not like

There is nothing in particular that I didn't like about this book. Not specifically. It was enjoyable but there was nothing truly fascinating about it.

In Conclusion

A fun easy fairytale that I would recommend especially for middle grade or even for children who are not easily frightened by stories that take place in the dark woods at night.
Was this review helpful?
I love books about wolves and I love book based on folktales or mythology so this was great.  I liked all the characters and the plot was good.  The writing was also good.  The pictures were very nice.
Was this review helpful?
Such a beautiful and well-told reimagining of the Baba Yaga folktale for middle grade readers. I read this aloud with my 7 year old who loves wolves and she was captivated from page one. If you enjoy fairytale reimaginings, Russian folklore or stories full of magic, excitement and adventure then this is for you. It would also be a prefect read for fans of the movie Wolfwalkers. I can't wait to see what the author does next!
Was this review helpful?
As a result of my various committee appointments and commitments I am unable to disclose my personal thoughts on this title at this time. Please see my star rating for a general overview of how I felt about this title. Additionally, you may check my GoodReads for additional information on what thoughts I’m able to share publicly. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this and any other titles you are in charge of.
Was this review helpful?
This is a middle grade that will clearly speak to more than just children and it made me think of books like The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier and even a little similar to the feeling of The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (or perhaps LOTR due to the long, detailed journey)

I really loved the folklore and Russian mythology incorporated in the story and I think that was my favorite part. I loved the atmosphere and I think that having an animal as a main character was really interesting. My main problem was following the plot. The plot took a while to kick off and be clear and once it got going it was a bit hard to follow. I also thought that because two of the characters switched bodies at some point in this book it was hard to determine who was who.  Don’t get me wrong, the emotions it invoked are incredible and I loved the ending but I didn’t feel that pull towards picking it up and continuing to read, I wasn’t wondering what was going to happen next
Was this review helpful?
Format: E-book/Audiobook. I’d like to thank Karah Sutton and Random House Children’s for a copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review! I went back and forth with the ebook and audiobook while reading.

To sum up: 
In this is a reimagining of Baba Yaga, a wolf makes an unlikely bargain with the witch to save her brother. This bargain has a price, however, which requires the wolf, Zima, and Baba Yaga to switch physical forms temporarily. This leaves Zima in a position she never thought she would find herself in, but she quickly becomes involved in a quest to save her pack and to save the forest she lives in. Woven through this tale, Baba Yaga attempts to fix an old mistake, and protect a boy that saved her in the forest. Lastly, this is also the tale of a young girl in the village, Nadya, who just wants to run away from the orphanage she grew up in, but her best friend Katarina, and the Tsar’s betrothed, has promised her a place in the palace if she can behave herself (easier said than done!). When Katarina falls ill before her wedding, Nadya is determined to figure out what has happened to her friend and nurse her back to health. These stories are woven together so that by the end, all of them will be needed in order to save Baba Yaga’s magic and to restore peace between the forest and humankind. 

Review: 
This was such a sweet and whimsical story. The POVs were rich, funny, and unique, and the way that they all became woven together in the plot was beautiful! I loved how the story unfolded and how the characters came together. The setting was also richly detailed and beautifully rendered. I felt like I was being told this tale at a fireside as snow fell outside! Lastly, I loved the themes in this book, the search for belonging, standing up for your sense of home and family, new unlikely friendships, and confronting old prejudices and fear. 

Overall, I thought this was a really sweet and engaging tale! I think all ages would enjoy this one (MG-adult) and it would be a fun one to read as a family.
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately, I DNF’d at around 20% as it did not keep my interest.  The synopsis and characters might be middle grade, but it didn’t read that way, so it clashed in my head.
Was this review helpful?
A Wolf for a Spell was great middle grade fantasy based on Russian folklore that revolved around a wolf-Zima, a human-Nadya, and a witch-Baba Yaga. It was about facing fears and not let it overpower you, doing right things, it’s okay to be different, friendship, belongingness, family, trust, and good vs evil.

Writing was easy, gripping and mesmerising with short chapters. It was third person narrative from Zima, Nadya and Baba Yaga’s perspective that worked perfectly here telling readers about each main characters’ life and what they thought about each other and their situation more clearly. I never felt confused with switch between perspectives. It was easy to follow and didn’t distract me from story of each characters.

Plot was interesting. It had Red Riding Hood feel. I’m not going to repeat the plot as synopsis said it well- how it started, how three different characters had their own issues and goals, and how the body switching spell made things complicated that gave a new twist to their goals and changed their life and perspective. It was interesting to find out what was Baba Yaga’s plan, why she needed a grey wolf for it, how their path connected with each other, and how both Nadya and Zima will face the enemy and make things right.

All three main female characters were flawed, realistic, and relatable and they all developed wonderfully throughout the story. They all were my favourite but I loved Zima and Nadya’s story more.

Zima was brave, strong, fiercely protective of her family and resilient wolf but at the same time she feared and worried a lot for being different than her pack. Her voice and emotions were well portrayed. It was hard for her to voice her thought when it was not appreciated and then meeting Baba Yaga and sparing human life didn’t help her case. But I liked how after being in human body she learned things quickly and how it changed her perspective towards the witch and humans. She saw differences and similarities and found things to learn from humans as well. I admired her determination and how even after all the mess she created, she tried harder to make things right without thinking about dangers arounds her. She developed to be grateful towards her leader and learned to voice her thoughts in right way.

Nadya was kind, lovely, and free-spirited girl. She didn’t like the chores of orphanage and never was good at sewing or any other activities but she loved to wander in forest, she knew forest like home and never feared the dangers of it or from wolves. I felt sad for her when orphanage keeper threatened to send her as servant girl. I could see why she was desperate to go with Katerina and at the same time I admired her bravery for going to Baba Yaga even though she never heard anything good about the witch. I liked how she formed her own opinion after meeting the witch, helped Katerina despite of all the dangers around her and did right thing. I liked her development, how she learned to stood up for herself, realised nobody is perfect, everyone had their own issue in life, and found home and family she was looking for all this time.

Baba Yaga was interesting character. We know most of her story and how she had powers through Zima and her attempt in knowing what was her plan. This formidable old witch was strong and wise yet she was not very different from Zima and Nadya. She too lived a lonely life because of her past mistakes and let fear overpower her life for so many years. But her journey through forest changed her a lot, she realised she had to make things right on her own rather than depending on others or making others do it for her. She was infamous but definitely was amazing and every young reader would love her.

World was fascinating with witches, animals and villagers all living in and around the magical forest. I enjoyed reading how the forest seemed all consuming and dangerous with deadly streams, poisonous plants, and hidden dark holes to caves in ground that could trap anyone for days and yet it helped everybody living in and around it, gave power and protection to all creatures. Baba Yaga’s loyal egoistic hut was fun to read. Snow storms, evil villain and forbidding palace and its corridors added tension to story. Despite of this dark world it never felt heavy and gloomy as characters were not affected or harmed by it which made it perfect for middle grade readers.

Twist and turns were good. I couldn’t guess if Baba Yaga would arrive back in time and how they were going to fight their common enemy. Climax was interesting. I was glad to see Zima take control over things and lead witches, humans and wolves in right direction and how they fought against evil together. End was sad but they all found what they were missing in life.

One thing I would like to mention was there was minor pacing issue. Some readers found second half slow I found the middle part a bit slow but there wasn’t any major negative point so it definitely can be overlooked.

Overall, A Wolf for a Spell magical, beautiful, imaginative, and well written fantasy based on Russian folklore with classic good vs evil theme and perfect middle grade and young readers.
Was this review helpful?
I read this book back in June, but when I tried to submit my response it all completely disappeared. I am so sorry for the late response. 
A Wolf for a Spell follows the perspective of three characters across the terrain of the Russian woodlands. Nadya, a human girl, treks through the dangerous woods to escape the perils of her life in an orphanage. Zima, a wolf who is trying to find her voice and place in her pack after her parents death, spends much of her time avoiding humans or harming them. Baba Yaga, a character drawn from Russian folklore, is a witch who lives in a house on chicken legs. The three interweaving stories weave together as the reader learns with the characters about trust, friendship, and family. 
I truly enjoyed this book. I found the plot intriguing and the artwork inspirational. The way that the stories come together seemed well planned out, and the plot felt very stable the whole time. I am a high school student, and I haven't reached for middle grade in a long time. When I saw the cover of this book, I was absolutely intrigued. The inside artwork is just as stunning, and provides a vivid picture of the plot throughout the book.
Was this review helpful?
In this tale, a young wolf, Zima, wants to protect her pack; a young human, Nadya, seeks a way to be with her friends; and Baba Yaga searches for a secret that has been hidden away. Through individual quests, body swapping, and animal friends, these three characters find each other and unite to take down the evil threatening their land and their friends. 

If you are looking for a cute, fairytale-like, adventurous middle grade book steeped in myth and magic, check out A Wolf for a Spell! I have always been a fan of stories with Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged house and this story did not disappoint! The magical characters provided uplifting and heroic actions teaching the importance of never giving up and the value of friendship. Young readers will find an easy, whimsical read that pulls them into the story. 

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Children for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Em “ A Wolf for a Spell” Karah Sutton se inspirou em lendas eslavas, mais especificamente em contos de fadas russos, e contou uma linda história para todos os públicos que apreciam uma boa fantasia, recheada de magia e aventura.

Digo isso, pois o livro é focado no publico infanto-juvenil, mas tem uma história fantástica que encantar adultos. Li em formato de e-book e sinto que não pude apreciar as ilustrações ao longo da publicação  como elas mereciam. É um livro muito lindo. Todos os detalhes foram bem cuidados e a história, assim que concluí, me deixou com o coração quentinho. 

Lobos, bruxas e lições sobre família, seja ela a de sangue ou não, são elementos e questões trabalhadas na história. A Bruxa do livro é inspirada na lenda da Baba Yaga e leva o mesmo nome - que é de fato bem mais aterrorizante que a do livro -, mas com uma  construção mais leve da personagem, tenho certeza que você também vai se encantar por ela. 

Na jornada, conhecemos Pax, que desde filhote aprendeu a temer bruxas e humanos, mas quando a ameaça a sua família e a sua floresta aparecem, o medo do desconhecido é deixado de lado. Em sua aventura, também vai conhecer Nadya, humana que também vai recorrer a bruxa Baba Yaga por ajuda. Será que humanos e bruxas são tão ruins assim? Será que lobos só tem uma única família? E a magia? Sabe que ela não vem de graça, não é mesmo? 

Como comentei: um excelente livro para todas as idades! Daqueles que deixa a gente com o coração quentinho e desejando ter a edição física em sua coleção. Se o e-book já é bonito, fico sonhando com a versão física, mas por enquanto, não sei de nenhuma editora BR que se interesse em publicar.
Was this review helpful?
Where do I start? Hmmm….well, I want to say that I LOVE a story with Russian element. Baba Yaga has always been a story that has intrigued me. As a Russian Language and Literature major in college, I know all about the magic of a Slavic story. And, Baba Yaga is one that’ll pull you right in. So, when I read the synopsis, I knew that I was sold. 

The characterizations in A WOLF FOR A SPELL were so well written, I truly felt like I was transported into a true, Slavic story. Zima’s character evolution really does bring you into the character’s mind and make you root for them. Every character had their own set of goals. Moral dilemma. Everything a story needs to keep a reader engaged. 

The world building was EVERYTHING I wanted. The world. Magic. Characters. Everything possessed such a sense of the land and its people. I LOVED IT!!!!!!!

Overall, I easily give A WOLF FOR A SPELL a solid 5 star rating! Sutton did such a fantastic job giving a twist to the Baba Yaga tale, and I’m here for it…if you haven’t noticed. I would recommend this one to everyone who loves MG Fantasy stories.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Random House Children's and NetGalley for providing me the opportunity to review this title. 

A Wolf for a Spell spins Russian folklore around Baba Yaga into a fun new middle grade book. It follows a number of strong characters: Zima, a young wolf desperate for respect from her pack; Nadya, a young orphan who is sad her dear friend is marrying the tsar and yearns for a family of her own; and Baba Yaga, the magic-wielding old woman who is trying to save the woods before all is lost. The illustrations match the story perfectly.

I did feel the development of certain characters was lacking a bit. By the end, I knew Zima and Nadya and even Katerina quite well. I never quite felt the same way about Baba Yaga; I wanted to know more about her. But the lack of development was most noticeable in the villain, Tsar Aleksander. He feels flat and just evil for the sake of being evil. I never got a good idea of his motivations. This didn't bother me too much because it is in keeping with the fairy tale feel of the novel, but I would have liked to see a little more.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Random House Children's and NetGalley for providing me the opportunity to review this title. 

A Wolf for a Spell spins Russian folklore around Baba Yaga into a fun new middle grade book. It follows a number of strong characters: Zima, a young wolf desperate for respect from her pack; Nadya, a young orphan who is sad her dear friend is marrying the tsar and yearns for a family of her own; and Baba Yaga, the magic-wielding old woman who is trying to save the woods before all is lost. The illustrations match the story perfectly.

I did feel the development of certain characters was lacking a bit. By the end, I knew Zima and Nadya and even Katerina quite well. I never quite felt the same way about Baba Yaga; I wanted to know more about her. But the lack of development was most noticeable in the villain, Tsar Aleksander. He feels flat and just evil for the sake of being evil. I never got a good idea of his motivations. This didn't bother me too much because it is in keeping with the fairy tale feel of the novel, but I would have liked to see a little more.
Was this review helpful?
This is the 2nd Middle School book I’ve read as an adult (and both just in this month alone) and I must say, I think I’ve been missing out on some really great reads.  Where were these awesome books when I was in Middle School, I wonder?

As a child in school, I remember watching a short film that took place in snowy Russia, had a wolf and a boy as the main characters, fighting against some evil villain.  I remember I really liked the short film, I can recall a few images in my mind, but that’s about it. I’m guessing now, that was probably a popular Russian fable and I think A Wolf for a Spell may loosely be based off of that particular fable, sort of like the reimagining of Fairy Tales that have gained popularity over the past several years.  Like those, this book is so much fun!

And the cover!  It is just simply beautiful.  It’s like a piece of art that I want to have on my bookshelf, immediately!

A Wolf for a Spell is a beautifully written, magical tale that begins with a classic good vs evil scenario.  Zima, the (good) wolf and Baba Yaga, the (evil) witch are both in need of life-altering assistance that only the other can provide.

“A crack and a snap split the air. And then the witch was before her. Baba Yaga. Zima had never seen her, but there was no mistaking the cane in her bony hand and the smell of magic clinging to her like smoke. Her skin was as rough and wrinkled as the bark of a pine, and what little gray hair she had stuck out in all directions from her head like many twigs forming a crown. Stone-gray teeth punctured shriveled gums.”
Zima has always been told by her pack to stay away from Baba Yaga and her evil magic as previous interactions with the witch have left other wolves forever cursed.

“Humans lie. The witch lies. Wolves do not lie.”
But when Zima’s family is in danger, Baba Yaga is the only source she can turn to for help.

Baba Yaga has never had the inclination to care about anyone or anything except her hut and her woods (and maybe her raven). But now an evil threatens to impose its will over her woods and the winds have whispered that she must find the grey wolf before it’s too late.

“For so long she’d been content to stay in her hut and let the problems of the outside world pass her by as though they didn’t concern her. But they did. The forest was now in danger because of her mistake – no, her choice. Of all the evils in the world, the greatest was the temptation of the easy path over the right one.”
Add to this interesting plot, 2 girls from the orphanage who will play very important roles in this story and you have a large female cast of characters that will have the ability to shape the future of their land. Go girl power!!  The roller coaster of events will take you on an adventure that will definitely keep you up late at night (yes – I’m very sleep deprived this morning) to find out what happens.

There are some moments in the story with strong themes of family (both family chosen for you and family you chose) that will sufficiently warm your heart and keep you cozy on these long winter nights.

And don’t let the Young Adults label keep you away from these great stories.  This is definitely worth the read, whether you are a YA or an Adult!
Was this review helpful?
I would like to thank PRH International for providing a digital copy in exchanged of an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I always, always love reading middle grade books. Every story is just cozy, warm, and refreshing. The heart is also always present in it. I wouldn't deny that I picked this book because of its beautiful cover. Who wouldn't, right? What I didn't expect is how I would love the story so much. A Wolf for a Spell is an enchanting middle grade novel that is heavily woven with Russian folklores. The story is unique and original. Plus, it has strong yet lovable characters.

It followed the three main characters: Zima, Nadya and Baba Yaga. Zima was a wolf who dedicated her life protecting her pack and home. Nadya was a young girl who often went to the forest to find somewhere which she belonged. Baba Yaga was the forest witch who had a bad reputation among wolves and humans. When the forest which the three of them loved was threatened to be destroyed, the unlikely trio teamed up to face a common enemy. Upon reading the synopsis, the plot was pretty straightforward, but there were some twists and turns that I didn't see coming. It was told through the alternating POVs of the three protagonists. The pacing was good, and the author did a great job describing the overall atmosphere and setting of the book. Lastly, did I mention that this novel also has gorgeous illustrations? They really complimented and highlighted the story telling.

The things that made this book standout for me were the Russian folklores and fairy tale elements. To people like me who weren't familiar with Russian folklores, you wouldn't be lost and confused. Instead, it was a great introduction to Russian folklores. I was amazed with the uniqueness and quirkiness of these elements. I only knew Baba Yaga and her character was often viewed as a villain. That was why I really liked how she was portrayed as one of the protagonists instead.

Overall, A Wolf for a Spell is a delightful tale both young readers and adults will surely enjoy. It talks about finding your home, unlikely friendships, and understanding oneself. I highly recommend this novel.

5/5 stars!
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this fantasy based around wolves and Slavic folklore. It was wintry, witchy, and very good.
Was this review helpful?
I am an admirer of Russian mythology. I wanted to read this book because it had Baba Yaga, a new witch in the making, a wolf, and an evil Tsar. The characters gave me enough motivation to choose this book on Netgalley.

The book is narrated from the point of view of Zima, the wolf, Baba Yaga, Nadya, a friend of the girl who will marry the Tsar. Zima wants to keep her wolf family safe. Baba Yaga wants to keep the forest safe from the evil Tsar. Nadya wants to accompany her friend to the Tsar’s castle, away from her orphanage. All their wishes lead them to seek each other out and work for a common goal.

I liked the point of view of Zima, the wolf, how her opinion of humans changes with time. There are many elements of magic in this novel, the house with the chicken legs, the talking raven, and a few more. I felt the points of view of the characters could be less spaced out. In a few chapters, Nadya completely disappeared and sometimes it was Baba Yaga. On the whole, it was an engaging read.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a great story! It’s fast paced and I loved their adventure. I adore Baba Yaga , what a unique character! This is a middle grade novel which is packed with everything I wanted and so much more! It has wolves, a strong heroine, magic and fairy tales!

“I am the forest. It flows through me. And now, I will flow through it.”

I loved the writing and I would like to read more like this! Such a great story!
Was this review helpful?
This truly felt like an old style fairytale.  You can see that the Russian fairytale that the author talks about in her notes really inspired her in this story.

This story follows 3 main characters POVs: Zima, the grey wolf, Baba Yaga, and Nadya, the orphan child. I loved Zima and her willingness to do anything for her pack! She was beyond adorable for me, so curious and full of heart. Baba Yaga was my second favourite character. I haven’t read any story with Baba Yaga in it before, but I loved this interpretation of this well known fairytale character.

At first. I really wasn't sure how the third storyline connected with the other two. It was obvious from the beginning that Zima and Baba storyline were connected and would cross, but I never could see how Nadya was involved.  The people around her, yes, but not Nadya herself - not until the halfway point when their stories did cross.

I loved that in each POV we got to see that the character's perceptions were turned on their heads as they learned more and were exposed to their thoughts/beliefs/misunderstanding. The common theme of being alone/wanting to belong was strong throughout this story, but I loved hoe the author managed to take that theme and tell in it such different ways.

I highly recommend this if you enjoy fairytales or tales inspired by fairytales; if you love books written from an animal's POV; or if you love books with Baba Yaga in it!
Was this review helpful?