Cover Image: Wolfwood


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Member Reviews

Thank you to ABRAMS and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Whoa, this completely exceeded my expectations! The best book I've read so far in 2023!  Wolfwood by Marianna Baer is a contemporary YA fantasy with elements of thriller and horror. The story revolves around Indigo, who lives with her mother, who isn't all there mentally. A former artist, Zoe Serra hasn't touched her paintbrush for years, after painting the haunting and monstrous Wolfwood series. Now, desperate for money, Indigo decides to forge a new series of Wolfwood paintings. But as she paints the terrifying scenes, she begins to have nightmares about the monsters in the paintings. Are the monsters coming to life?

Here is a chilling excerpt from the Prologue:

"There aren’t any wolves in Wolfwood, but there are monsters.
Night after night, they trap me in the Wolfwood jungle.
Roots like giants’ fingers grab my ankles. Grotesque flowers knock me down with fleshy pink petals, slice open my gut with machete-sized thorns. Python-thick acid-green vines wind around my neck, squeezing tight, tight, tight . . . And always, just as I’m about to die, the Wolfwood girls circle around, their own bloody wounds bandaged with fabric torn from their brightly colored dresses. I never understand why they won’t help, why they’re so angry with me. The rage in their eyes is enough to wake me up screaming."

Overall, Wolfwood is an absolutely amazing contemporary YA fantasy that I wish I could give more than 5 stars. It will appeal to fans of the movies Labyrinth or Sucker Punch. One highlight of this book is the super interesting plot. Indigo having to fake her mother's paintings is already interesting, but then add in the concept of the monsters in the paintings coming to life, and the story becomes unputdownable. Another highlight of this book is the real-life issues regarding mental health and poverty that the author expertly weaves in between the fantasy elements. There are fantastic metaphors here that I found and probably others that I missed. One final highlight of this book is Kai, the Japanese-American love interest. This might be obvious, but how can I not support an Asian male romantic lead? If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of YA fantasy in general, you won't regret checking out this book when it comes out in March!
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I devoured this book.

I'm a big fan of magical realism and portal/parallel universe/alternate dimension stories, so this was right up my alley.

The characters were compelling, the story engaging, and the plot was well executed. There are heavy themes and gory scenes which I felt were balanced well with hopeful moments and the light romance. I empathized a lot with the main character, Indigo. I really felt her emotions and was rooting for her!

I do understand how it might be jarring that Indigo didn't question why she was suddenly transported into a violent jungle full of mangled clones. But I felt like her lack of a reaction could be explained by how exhausted, traumatized, desperate, and hungry she was. Sometimes when your mind is already full, your brain doesn't fully process anything else. She was also eased into the world of Wolfwood, which desensitized her some.

This story has a somewhat open but happy ending. I've already recommended it to my coworker!

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for letting me read an ARC of this book.
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Thank you for this opportunity!

This book was a dark, twisty page turning up all night escape into nightmares dressed in pretty trappings and tied with the bows of self discovery. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was creepy in a way that sneaks upon you like a big cat stalking its prey.
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Darkly beautiful, but unfortunately lacking in some aspects. I didn't care about the romance especially. The setting was the highlight for me. This could definitely work better for some readers, though.
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I loved this book! I first heard about it on a YA podcast as a recommended book coming out in spring 2023, and I immediately had to check it out, based on the hosts' description of the storyline as well as the cover. Neither disappointed. Throughout the book, there are multiple related storylines - all somehow related to the main character Indigo and/or her mother Zoe - that come together towards the end. Baer switches between them pretty seamlessly though, I found, without pulling me out of the story, especially when Indigo enters Wolfwood and then returns to the studio. 

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book.
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Wolfwood puts into words how art makes me feel on my most vulnerable days. The transportive power of paintings is made into an actual portal to another world. The contrasting settings of New York City and the world of Wolfwood are what makes this book work, along with the relationship between Zoe and Indigo. Indigo is a relatively common type of protagonist, and her love interest Kai (why is every Asian guy in YA named Kai?) is fine but unremarkable. What makes this book special are the contrasts between Indigo and Zoe, and how much they love each other despite their issues.
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I wasn't really in to this story,  the setup is interesting but I found that largely it did not hold my attention.  The switch between Indigo as a struggling teen in NYC, trying to support her mother and keep their family afloat, and Indigo as she journeys through Wolfwood was often jarring to me, and while I get what the author was going for here, I didn't feel like it worked well.  There's a level of suspense built into the story that was nice, while I felt that the story dragged in parts, the author was good at switching between the plot lines in a way that kept interest.  While I did not enjoy it, I definitely feel like it's a good book that a lot of readers will love, it just was not the one for me.
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The daughter of an out of work artist who was famous for her horrific and violent paintings of girls fighting against monsters in the wilderness must find a way to meet ends as bills pile and her mother refuses to paint the paintings that could get them out of their debt. Indigo is the daughter of once famous artist Zoe Serra, their lives have taken a drastic turn and now they barely scrap by, Indigo is forced to work multiple jobs and essentially parent her mother, she is forced to pay the bills, manage her mother, and find a way to make rent. Indigo is stressed and tired, but when a gallery offers Zoe a revival show for her unfinished art series, Wolfwood, Indigo knows its a crucial chance to finally get out of the red and regain stability. Zoe however, refuses to paint, she refuses to even talk about why, leaving Indigo to do the impossible... paint the paintings herself. Zoe had gotten sick but didn’t have health insurance, and so her hospital bills piled up and her sickness left her with after effects that make it impossible for her to even hold down a job, thus making Indigo the main person who has to make money and pay bills while her mother is suppose to work on paintings to finally help them pay off the bills. Yet her refusal infuriates Indigo because this is their chance to finally get their life together, for Indigo to actually eat food and pay bills, but Zoe refuses. So Indigo begins to paint the paintings herself in secret while lying to the gallery owner.. but with each painting she finds herself taken into the world of Wolfblood and facing off against horrific monsters, befriending the girls who want to survive, and with the mission of killing the wolf. All the while when she wakes up from her sleep she has a completed painting of Wolfwood and all the scars and bruises from her fights in it. Yet the more Indigo befriends the gallery owner’s son the more her lies begin to pile up and the pressure is getting to her, can she keep her secrets or will they all come crashing out? The story also deals with Zoe’s own pass 30 years ago that inspired her to create Wolfwood in the first place. The story started off interesting but fell off for me the more we got into it, it can be frustrating to see the things Indigo has to deal with and the way she handles certain situations but you can empathize with her love for her mother. Indigo loves her mother so much even if it means she ends up hurting herself and sacrificing everything for her mother and its just tragic to read. Overall its a story about struggling to be a parent to your own parent and dealing with very difficult situations. Indigo is constantly trying to find a way to solve her problems but it can be difficult when they all begin to pile up. The story deals with some very real issues while also dealing with trauma and a touch of horror/fantasy.

*Thanks Netgalley and ABRAMS Kids, Amulet Books for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
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I LOVED this. I had been hunting for something that had similar vibes to another book I’d read and this was spot on. This felt like a dark fairy tale based in the real world and I couldn’t put it down!
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Thank you, ABRAMS Kids, Amulet Books, for allowing me to read Wolfwood early!

The cover was the first aspect that drew me in, but it was Baer's writing that consolidated the deal. I very much appreciated her writing and this amazing work.
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Thank NetGalley for the Ebook!
This story is an amazingly vivid book; it felt so unique and heartbreakingly stunning. The plot felt very different as we follow Indigo. As she uncovers more about her mother and her past, the author does a fantastic job invoking such strong feelings. You really care about what is happening in the story.
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This is a very strange novel. It is both about trauma, as well as a series of paintings that Indigo’s mother, Zoe,  painted before she was born. No one knows the story behind these very violent pictures that appear to tell the story of a group of girls being attacked by a wolf that is never seen, where the vegetation itself burns, and where strange figures help and protect them.
The paintings were so hard for Zoe, that she didn’t finish the series. So, when Indigo finds out that they would sell for thousands of dollars, she decides to paint them herself, and falls under the spell of the story she is painting. It is never explained how. 
But while we are experiencing the story the paintings, we are also hearing about something that happened 30 years before, to Zoe, something bad, though we dont’ know quite what it is, though it is assumed it is the real reason for the paintings of WolfWood.
I liked the general story, and did try to guess what trama had influenced the pictures. The story within the paintings got repetitive, but the rest of the story moved quickly to make up for it.
Good, gripping novel. 

<em>Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.</em>
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