Title: Counting Wolves
Author: Michael F. Stewart
Publication date: August 14th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: E-galley from Xpresso Tours
The Breakfast Club meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales in the lair of an adolescent psych ward.
Milly’s evil stepmother commits her to a pediatric psych ward. That’s just what the wolf wants. With bunk mates like Red, who’s spiraling out of control; Pig, a fire-bug who claims Milly as her own—but just wants extra dessert—Vanet, a manic teen masquerading as a fairy godmother with wish-granting powers as likely to kill as to help; and the mysterious Wolfgang, rumored to roam for blood at night; it doesn’t take long for Milly to realize that only her dead mother’s book of tales can save her.
But Milly’s spells of protection weaken as her wolf stalks the hospital corridors. The ward’s a Dark Wood, and she’s not alone. As her power crumbles, she must let go of her magic and discover new weapons if she is to transform from hunted to hunter.
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My rating: 4 stars
This book reminded me a lot of the book Liar, by Justine Larbalestier. Throughout the beginning of the book, I wondered, is this really a magical story, or is it just a girl who is dealing with psychological issues that cause her OCD and nightmares. I really liked how the author took the different illnesses and conditions of the patients in the psych ward and made them into aspects of a fairy tale. This is part of what kept me guessing the entire time on which way the story was actually going to go. All of the characters were really well developed and had interesting stories, except maybe Red. While she definitely had a great back story and symptoms/aspects of a fairy tale, I don't know that I got to really "see" her character as I read it. But Pig was very easily pictured, as well as Vanet and Peter. Another interesting bit is how everyone had the name or nickname that fit them into the fairy tale. That was another detail the author wove throughout the story that kept me on my toes looking to see just what was real and what was not.
It wasn't just the characters themselves that were good though, it was a lot of the interactions between them. I liked the relationship between Milly and her evil stepmother. The relationship between Milly and Vanet. I liked how Milly's character was realistically trying to overcome her counting and other issues, but had setbacks that made sense. She didn't just magically overcome those issues because she was there and figuring things out.
In the end, I was a bit disappointed with how it ended. Almost a little too vague of an ending for me. But I know there are those out there who enjoy those sorts of endings, and they will be pleased. I won't say which direction the story ends up going, if there is a magical fairy tale aspect to it that is more than just her psychological issues, I'll let you read it and see for yourself!
He likes to combine storytelling with technology and pioneered interactive storytelling with Scholastic Canada, Australia, and New Zealand’s, anti-cyberbullying program Bully For You. In addition to his award winning Assured Destruction series, he has authored four graphic novels with Oxford University Press Canada’s Boldprint series. Publications of nonfiction titles on Corruption and Children’s Rights are published by Scholastic and early readers are out with Pearson Education.
For adults, Michael has written THE SAND DRAGON, a horror about a revenant prehistoric vampire set in the tar sands, HURAKAN, a Mayan themed thriller which pits the Maya against the MS-13 with a New York family stuck in the middle, 24 BONES, an urban fantasy which draws from Egyptian myth, and THE TERMINALS–a covert government unit which solves crimes in this realm by investigating them in the next.
Herder of four daughters, Michael lives to write in Ottawa where he was the Ottawa Public Library’s first Writer in Residence. To learn more about Michael and his next projects visit his website at www.michaelfstewart.com or connect via Twitter @MichaelFStewart.
Michael is represented by Talcott Notch.