Cover Image: A Wolf for a Spell

A Wolf for a Spell

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Sutton combines Russian folklore with curious characters and descriptive writing to build an enticing fantasy world for young readers as multiple stories converge into a whirlwind of adventures.  

Zima, a wolf, and Nadya, a young girl, both seek the help of Baba Yaga but neither of them get what they expect.  Zima is tricked into trading bodies with Baba Yaga so the witch can carry out a secretive quest. Nadya then arrives, believing Zima to be the true Baba Yaga and makes her heartfelt request.  The two are thrown into a perilous predicament and they'll need to use everything they have, courage, love, and magic, to save those they care for.

Sutton's writing is so full of descriptive details that readers can nearly feel the ice form around them as the cold winter blows through the enchanted forest.  This narrative style fits perfectly with the story as the setting, characters, and plot are peppered unique elements to make readers eager to learn more.  Even characters that lack a large amount of "page time" are granted full personalities and motivations to make the story seem even more tangible.

The only downfall of the book is pacing.  The chapters switch between the perspectives of Nadya, Zima, and Baba Yaga, offering pieces of the puzzling plot as they go, but the switch is often quick, giving readers only a few pages to acclimate to the new information.

Overall, this is a charming title with an all-too-rarely featured folklore character and a fantastic message of confidence, love, and courage.
Was this review helpful?
A Wolf for a Spell was my first time reading a Baba Yaga retelling and I highly enjoyed this book. It's clear this book has been influence by Russian fairy tales and I loved how everything comes together. Karah Sutton created a world I really enjoyed and could really see as I was reading the book. I really appreciated the 3 POVs in this story. For me it really help keep the story going and me wondering how they were all going to come together.

In A Wolf for a Spell we follow Zima (a wolf), Nadya and the witch Baba Yaga. All three of these characters are stronger than they realize and plan on fighting for what they believe in. None of them plan on sitting around doing nothing. My favorite thing about middle grade books are the lessons we often find in them. I really believe A Wolf for a Spell shows us to believe in ourselves and family isn't always blood. In the end our main characters come together to fight evil and it shows that not all is what it seems. Wolves, witches and humans can come together to make everything right.

For me A Wolf for a Spell was a magical adventure that I'll definitely revisit in the future. I really hope Karah Sutton writes more magical middle grade books. Her writing style and imagination made this book a great read. Add some really nice illustrations throughout this book and I was a happy bookworm. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more books by this author.
Was this review helpful?
A Wolf for a Spell is a middle grade book inspired by Russian folklore. Baba Yaga and Zima, a young wolf, have to switch bodies in order to try and save the forest that they both love from the humans. 

I loved the illustrations in between the chapters and in the headers. They were beautiful. The story is well-paced, with lovable characters like Zima, and the cranky but secretly caring Baba Yaga. The characters are well-developed, but I wish that I learned more about Baba Yaga. She’s always been a favorite character of mine, and I love whenever stories have her involved because it’s a chance for me to get to know her better. 

Overall, this story is a fun and beautiful fairytale.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
A Wolf for a Spell is a cute MG about inner strength, and the lengths one will go to help those they love.
I really enjoyed this one! See my blog for a more in-depth (but spoiler free) review! 

Thank you to the publisher and TBR & Beyond Tours for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
The wolves do not trust humans or witches. Yet, when her pack is in danger, Zima, a young wolf, is forced to take Baba Yaga’s help. But Baba Yaga does not help for free. She wants something from Zima – her keen sense of smell. The result – Zima switched bodies with Baba Yaga, who flees into the forest to set her secret plan to fruition. Meanwhile, Nadya, an orphan girl, visits Baba Yaga seeking her help. How will Baba Yaga, Zima, and Nadya help each other and help their beloved forest?

Wolves, Witches, forests – my favorite concoction in the world. I am glad to say Karah Sutton’s A Wolf for a Spell brews this concoction perfectly.

A Wolf for a Spell is a story of compassion, finding friends in the unlikeliest of places, and facing your fears. It is lucidly written and poignantly drives home the fact that you do not need to be the biggest, fiercest wolf to lead your pack. Sometimes, you can be the wolf whom no one believes can win. What is important is to believe in yourself and not let fear hold you back.

The book sketches vivid portraits of a pack of wolves running through verdant forests, large and tall gold-decked castles whose turrets touch the sky, and a dangerous but magical and protecting forest. The magic in the book does not overwhelm the plot. The simple illustrations further bolster the strength of the book.

Further, all the characters felt real to me. However, Zima was my favorite. She does not cling to the rigid beliefs of her pack, trusts her instincts, and forms her own opinions. Moreover, the story builds to a tense and bittersweet climax.

A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton is an enchanting Russian folklore retelling. It is a perfect wintry read and will endear itself in no time to the middle-grade audience. Recommended for young readers. Many thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of the book via Netgalley.
Was this review helpful?
A Wolf for a Spell follows the story of Zima, a wolf who is extremely wary of humans. However, fate leads to Zima exchanging her body with Baba Yaga’s for a certain period of time- for a reason. Will Baba Yaga get to complete her goal, and does Zima get to return back to her body?

This book is so cute, I JUST CANNOT. AAARGH.

I have read more than a few middlegrade gems this year, but this one certainly takes the cake for me! Whimsical stories are my jam. I’ve always been fascinated with the Baba Yaga stories, but this was my first time actually reading one related to it. And this was my first Russian folklore book too! Yay!

I loved the fairy tales vibes. Honestly. From Zima being turned into a human who can start speaking immediately to Baba Yaga’s final plan, everything was seemingly non-complicated and that’s what I like the best about middlegrade. It’s like a breath of fresh air! I absolutely adored the huge cast of characters, from Zima to Baba Yaga to Veter to Nadya and EVERYBODY ELSE. Also, look at the ABSOLUTE GORGEOUSNESS that is the cover of this book! I’m dying to hold this in my hands.

The story was incredibly quick paced, and is very engrossing. The ending though, hit me hard omg. It was just so perfect that I had to close my kindle and just stare at the wall in front for me for a whole five minutes. This book would be perfect for anyone who’s looking for a light, captivating, and charming little fairytale! Definitely recommend.
Was this review helpful?
While I knew a little about Baba Yaga and some of her attributes, I have never really read a story involving her and I'm so glad this was my first. We follow a few different perspectives in this story with Baba Yaga being one of them, the others being Zima (a wolf) and Nadya (a young girl). At the surface this could certainly be framed as a fairy tale, but I felt it went much deeper than that. The three characters we follow as well as other characters go through transformations. There's a lot of narrative about not taking things at face value and forming their own opinions/decisions. There's also a lot about learning to face your fears or rise above fear when you feel it.

I absolutely flew through this story and was engrossed the entire time I was reading it. I did not want to put it down since I was so absorbed. The style of writing was easy to read and just kept me hooked the whole time.
Was this review helpful?
This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. 

This is a non spoiler review, because you as reader need to read this book. Also, I feel sometimes I have in the past gave away to much of the plot line. This has diminished the pleasure for would be readers

A YA middle grade historical fantasy based in Russia. A Wolf for a Spell featuring my all time favorite perceptive for middle grade books, animal narration. 

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

A spellbinding Russian inspired tale that is richly detailed.

This story inspired by RussiaA delightful fairy tale told in alternating chapters by three main POV’s. A young orphaned girl Nadya, a female wolf Zima, and the witch Baba Yada... and the woods that must be saved.
These three characters will find their past cross and their destinies enter-woven together in charming middle grade book. 
Karah Sutton delivers a compelling, intriguing, and well-written read here with absolutely fantastic characters that I found myself captivated with.
This stunning book that I can’t wait to read more from author.

I highly recommend this middle grade fantasy
Was this review helpful?
I will not be getting to this before the archive date. It does interest me, but I have more pressing ARCS.
Was this review helpful?
The House with Chicken Legs meets a fantastically 'Freaky Friday' situation, glistening with magic, and inspired by Russian folklore.. uhh yes please!

Beautifully bold and enticingly enchanting, A Wolf for a Spell was perfectly-impossible-to-put-down and mirrored the talented likes of Sophie Anderson and Kelly Barnhill.

Plus, Pauliina Hannuniemi's cover and interior black and white illustrations are just beautiful. If there's ever a time to judge a book by its cover this is that book!
Was this review helpful?
This was a fantastic, magical, mystical tale that I want to read again and again. Zima stole my heart as she tried her best to help her pack. All she wanted was for them to be safe, and she would do anything to prove that. I can’t wait to read this story to my kids. It’s a great book, and has amazing lessons for young and old alike!
Was this review helpful?
I am not a big reader of middle grade, but I decided to give this one a try mostly because it’s a retelling of Baba Yaga, a character from Slavic folklore. For those who don’t know me, I come from Romania, which is between a bunch of East European Slavic countries so we do share part of those myths and legends.

I haven’t grown up with stories of Baba Yaga, mostly because my Grandma had her own original stories, that she knew from her grandma and so on. But this book made me go back to those cold winters when I would sneak with my little brother in her room and she will start telling us fantastic stories half asleep after a day of hard work.

The characters are completely amazing and well written, I enjoyed, in particular, Zima’s POV in Baba Yaga’s body and that somehow it gave me exactly the feeling of a wolf experiencing the human world for the first time.

Baba Yaga personifies here one of my favorite tropes, the morally grey character, who’s done some bad, looking to fix it, and you are not sure if you should root from them or not.

I do really have trouble finding any kind of faults to this story, while I had a hard time at the beginning with Zima’s POV, and the fact that you are thrown right into it doesn’t help a bit after I got used to it the story had an amazing flow.

I honesty was caught up completely, this book has that timeless placeless feeling that fairytales usually have. It does also has a very straightforward plot common to the genre, where the good always triumphs at the end. This was not a problem for me, as I expected it, and is honestly part of the charm with fairytales.

In the end, this was a very enjoyable read, and will probably recommend this in the future to middle-grade kids and adults alike.
Was this review helpful?
A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton sounds like your typical fairytale retelling for middle grade readers. Promising intrigue, fun and action. But A Wolf for a Spell is much different. At first I was a little skeptical, as it’s a retelling of the story of Baba Yaga, but as I read, I realized just what a fascinating and beautiful retelling the book really is.
A Wolf for a Spell follows three characters—Zima, a wolf; Baba Yaga, the forest witch; and Nadya, a girl who doesn’t want to be separated from her childhood friend. All three characters meet when Baba Yaga switches bodies with the wolf so that she can hunt down the true heir to the throne, and when the girl comes to Baba Yaga for help, not knowing that the witch isn’t really the witch.
I could try to pick a favorite character but that would be nearly impossible. All three were very interesting, well-rounded characters, each with their own goals that ultimately tied together. I loved the fact that one of the characters was a wolf, as wolves are one of my favorite animals. It was also nice to see an old character as a protagonist, as that’s not done often enough in fiction. I also enjoyed the new twist on the plot and the forest-magic.
There were some moments in the book, however, that I feared things might go a little too far and would be more suited for older readers, but Sutton never described any of the violence or ‘scary’ moments in a way that would be too much for young readers. I can confidently say that my younger sisters, who still read Middle Grade, would be able to enjoy this book without me worrying that something was too much.
Overall, A Wolf for a Spell was a beautiful and unique twist on the tale of Baba Yaga and is perfect for fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill and the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson and can even be enjoyed by older audiences.
NOTE: I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley for review purposes only. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
A Wolf For a Spell is a middle-grade fantasy based on old fairytales featuring Baba Yaga, from the authors Russian heritage. I have not read many books with Baba Yaga, so this was a real treat!
This fantasy world is so engaging, I felt pulled in right away! We see the story from different viewpoints: Baba Yaga- the witch of the forest, Zima the wolf, and Nadya the village girl. Each character is full of life, and innate bravery that comes out when they need it the most.
It's a story of family, born with and found, a story of courage and taking responsibility. It winds these themes together so beautifully that you don't notice the morale until you've realized it yourself. The forest is a lush world of it's own, kind and helpful, yet deadly if you don't watch your step.
This is a delightful middle-grade book, and even as an adult I was entertained and will definitely be watching this author! I also have to gush about the AMAZING illustrator, Pauliina Hannuniemi, that brought this tale to life with her drawings that were throughout the book.

Thank you Netgalley and TBRandbeyondtours for this ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This was a wonderful middle grade fantasy. I would gladly recommend this to my younger siblings and friends who love to read fairy tales.
Was this review helpful?
A Wolf for a Spell was absolutely delightful. I loved all the different perspectives we had to follow within the story. Following Zima’s point of view was so incredibly unique and interesting. It was interesting to see the dynamics of her family and the complicated relationships the wolves have with each other and humans. Following Baba Yaga’s perspective was also incredibly interested. I didn’t know a lot about the mythology of Baba Yaga, so seeing a story with her as a prominent character was incredibly exciting.

I loved the pacing in this story. It was fast paced, but it was full of interesting plot and characters. Having a number of characters made it more exciting because we didn’t always know what each character was doing, adding some suspense to the story. I loved all the twists that this story took. There were a lot that I wasn’t expecting and the character growth and development was fantastic.

Overall, I thought this book was absolutely incredible. I think readers who enjoy middle grade and readers who have not read a lot of middle grade will love it. This is a story for anyone who loves fairytales and magical stories.

Rating: 4.5/5
Was this review helpful?
I love Russian folklore, so naturally I was beyond excited to join the tour and read this middle grade fantasy. This version of Baba Yaga was the most positive light I have seen her in and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her this way. One of my favorite things was one of her modes of travel – a mortar and pestle that could take flight. The illustration for it was even better! I was not expecting illustrations but they are rustic and lovely. They also provide illustrative breaks for younger readers to look at and enjoy.

I loved seeing the intertwining relationships and their importance throughout the book. Once each character ceased attempting to use force and let situations guide them, it brought them all to exactly where they needed to be. Zima and Baba Yaga learned the most about themselves throughout A Wolf for a Spell, heightened by the fact that they switched bodies. Even though Baba Yaga thought she was prepared for the outcome – she wasn’t. The supporting characters were also well done, I didn’t feel like they lacked depth or reasons behind what they were doing in the story. My favorite was the snarky raven – so much sass for a bird.

A Wolf for a Spell is a beautiful tale with beautiful illustrations about finding your true path, making the right choices (and how to make up for them if you don’t), and how good found family and a place to belong can feel. I would highly recommend reading this book to those who enjoy middle grade, folklore, fairytales, and fantasy. I would like to thank TBR and Beyond Tours and Karah Sutton for the chance to read a digital ARC of A Wolf for a Spell – all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
What a charming little book! I love middle grade books that readers of all ages can enjoy.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Although the beginning was slow, the story was atmospheric and immersive. As much as I love stories about witches, I am surprised that this if my first experience with the character Baba Yaga! Apparently, she is a classic witch of the woods character and I have been ignorant of her existence. 🤭
A perfect gift for young readers this holiday season!!
Thank you NetGally and Random House for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Book release date: TODAY! December 1st, 2020!
Was this review helpful?
A Wolf for a Spell is about Zima, a wolf struggling with her pack leader/brother, and how she switches bodies with Baba Yaga in a deal to save a different brother. After finding out that the whole forest is in danger, she, along with Nadya, a (human) girl from the village, and a few other friends, set out to stop it.

I thought that this book was kind of similar to a fairy tale. Maybe that's mostly because Baba Yaga's in it, and it takes place in (something like) fairy tale Russia, but it was still fun. I liked the characters, but I did feel like Baba Yaga should have gotten more character development. Or maybe she didn't really need it. I'm not exactly sure... I also thought that, even though she wasn't really a main character, Katerina could have also done with some more character development, beyond being perfect and then making a few mistakes. And if that was being done, I feel like it could have been written a little better. I really liked Veter, though.

There were a few other things that I thought could have been better, like how there seemed to be a few things that seemed already used, (very slight spoiler) like some past tsar being a good person, but the current tsar being pretty much totally evil, and the climax towards the end of the book. But I really liked the very ending, with the bittersweet place where all of the characters were left at. In the end, I think that this was a pretty solid read. I would recommend this book for grades two through five.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Children's for the DRC (Digital Review Copy)
Was this review helpful?
DNF @ 21%

I was expecting this book to be magical and atmospheric, just like fairy tales and eastern european folklore inspired stories for children tend to be. This is not it. I think telling the story from a point of view of a wolf and a child has something to do with it. My expectations for this book may have been too high. Not only I grew up on fairy tales, but I also grew up in eastern europe. I have read a lot of "russian fairy tale" inspired novels and was immediately expecting this book to be a new favorite. However, I already know it's going to be mediocre at best and not worth my time.
Was this review helpful?