About the Book

Title: Don’t Call the Wolf
Published: 2020
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Face/Out
BFF Charms: Love, Big Sister
Talky Talk: Tales of Old
Bonus Factors: Eastern European Folklore, Dragons
Relationship Status: Quest Buddies

Cover Story: Face/Out

Nicholas Cage pretending to take off his face.

This cover is perfect for the story within, from the various elements to the general folky feel. I love how everything ties together well, and the plays on symmetry without it being perfectly symmetrical are interesting and eye-catching. Major pants to this cover designer.

The Deal:

In a world where magical creatures are common, two disparate people come together on a quest. Lukasz, the last of the Wolf-Lords, is a dragon slayer who’s looking for his brothers. Ren, a human who’s also sometimes a lynx, is looking for someone to slay the Golden Dragon wreaking havoc on her forest and bringing evil creatures into their world. Their end goals might not be the same, but sometimes working together turns out to benefit all.

BFF Charms: Love, Big Sister

BFF charm that says "true love"

All of Lukasz’s brothers were good looking, and although Lukasz doesn’t think he was the most attractive of them, he’s definitely not hard on the eyes. And his confidence, which stems from his dragon-slaying skills, only adds to his attractiveness. Sure, he’s a bit cocky, and very single-minded—to the point of possibly hurting those who care about him—but after an incident at the start of the book, he’s taken down a peg or five. I’d quickly volunteer to be the one to nurse his wounds, both literal and figurative, given the opportunity.

BFF Charm Big Sister with Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All's face

Ren has grown up the forest with only animals for company. While it’s true that animals are better than humans, so she’s probably better for it, there’s a whole world outside of the forest that Ren cannot fathom existing. She needs someone by her side without an agenda who can show her the ways of the world. Not that I’d be the best person, considering her world is a strange place that I’m not familiar with, but I think I’d be a decent choice given that I didn’t grow up in a forest in the company of animals …

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

From the moment he lays eyes on her, Lukasz is enamored with Ren. And Ren’s fascinated by Lukasz. Instalove? Maybe a little—especially given the fact that Ren’s never really met a man, minus some villagers who antagonize her and think of her as a monster—but I tend to excuse instalove more in fantasy novels where fate and magic are so inexorably intertwined.

Talky Talk: Tales of Old

There’s a particular feel to fantasy books that are influenced more by folklore than fairy tales. They’re darker and sometimes more disturbing, and the line between good and evil is crossed and re-crossed—and sometimes even erased—as the story unfolds. I like that about these kinds of stories, and Don’t Call the Wolf is one such book.

I struggled a bit at times with word pronunciation and unfamiliar creatures. There’s a pronunciation guide in the back of the book—bonus factor!—but as I didn’t see it until after I’d read the book, it wasn’t as much help as it could have been. And my unfamiliarity with the creatures wasn’t a total issue, as context clues provided a lot of detail. However, I don’t see either of these things as a fault of the book or Ross’s writing; it’s more so just a factor of me not being familiar with the source material. Which is a good thing, in my book; unfamiliar stories introduce people to cultures, tales, and ideals that help to make them more worldly and open-minded, and I for one am glad to have been introduced to new things in Don’t Call the Wolf. (More on that below.)

Bonus Factor: Eastern European Folklore

Don’t Call the Wolf is heavily influenced by Polish folklore, of which I’m not super familiar, but reading this book has made me want to learn more. The darker magical aspects seem a far cry from the Disney-fied tales of my youth, and I find them fascinating in an “I want to adventure in a dark forest filled with evil creatures but from the comfort of my own couch” kind of way.

Bonus Factor: Dragons

A dragon perched on a mountain top with his wings spread with the sun setting in the background

There are so many different types of dragons in Don’t Call the Wolf, most of which we only learn about because Lukasz kills them. (¯\_(ツ)_/¯) I’d really love to see an illustrated glossary of them, as they’re described far differently than most dragons I’ve read about (i.e., they have fur and antlers in addition to scales).

Relationship Status: Quest Buddies

Next time you go on an adventure, Book, please invite me along? I can’t promise that I’ll be much good in a battle, but I’ve got some skills that might serve useful. And, you never know, I might be quite handy with a sword, given the opportunity.

Literary Matchmaking

The Boneless Mercies

Check out April Genevieve Tucholke’s The Boneless Mercies and companion book Seven Endless Forests you’re looking to read about more strange magic.

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

The stories in Leigh Bardugo’s The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic have a similar folklore+fairy tale vibe.

Vassa in the Night 

And Sarah Porter’s Vassa in the Night is a modern update to similar Eastern European folk tales.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from HarperTeen, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Don’t Call the Wolf is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband and their dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.