Book & Author Details:
Wolfskin by W.R. Gingell
Publication date: May 1st 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
‘If you want adventure, you have to march right up to it and kick it in the shins . . .’
At fourteen, barefoot and running wild, Rose is delighted to be apprenticed to Akiva, the witch of the forest. She thinks it will be all enchantment and excitement, and not so much fuss about baths. The reality is much more sober and practical- that is, until she meets a mysterious wolf in the forest and is tricked into stepping off the path . . .
In young, naive Rose, Bastian sees a way of escape. Cursed to remain in the shape of a wolf after running afoul of a powerful enchantress, he has lived many decades under a spell, and now he is both desperate and ruthless. But by breaking part of Bastian’s curse, Rose has caught the attention of Cassandra, the enchantress who cursed him: and Cassandra is by no means ready to forgive and forget.
Meanwhile, wardens have been disappearing from the forest, one by one. Rose is certain that Cassandra is behind the disappearances, but can she and Bastian get to the bottom of the matter before Akiva disappears as well? And are Bastian’s motives entirely to be trusted?
Sometimes the little girl in the red hood doesn’t get eaten, and sometimes the wolf isn’t the most frightening thing in the forest.
I gazed at him, fascinated, for moments that turned into minutes, until at last I understood. The swathes of pitch black were the madness; the gold a touch of the man this wolf had once been. It had been so long ago that the gold was faded and tarnished, and the blackness of wild animal had almost taken over. He must have been driven mad by rage and despair, over centuries perhaps, and by now there was so little left of what he had been that the hope I’d caused to flare was eating away at him just as the desperation had.
I knew this kind of swirling madness. When I was eight I found an old, mad soldier who didn’t know where he was and couldn’t tell me his name. I took him home to Mother, who shaved his beard and cut his hair, making him look much younger; but his eyes had stayed the same– old and desperately mad. He hadn’t known who he was, and it had eaten away at him like a maggoty-grub until there was nothing else to him.
Distantly, I became aware that the wolf had begun to growl again in a soft, savage undertone. My hands dropped to my sides, numb and cold, as his growl crescendoed into a snarl; but I knew what to do.
The soldier had wanted a name more than anything else. I was certain that the wolf needed his name just as badly. He needed to be reminded that he was human.
“I know what you need,” I told him, finding my chin a little less mulish in the face of his growl. My eyes felt wide and fixed. “I just need to find it.”
He snarled, teeth long and bare beneath drawn-up lips. “Hurry . . . little . . . girl.”
I took one step back, then another. The wolf closed the gap with one swift stride, and I sucked in a quiet, hopeless breath, because his eyes had gone completely black.
I didn’t know his name, I thought, ideas flowing fast and cold behind my frozen eyes– but I knew the forest. It did so love to be sung to, and I was certain it could be tricked. I grinned then; a fierce, humourless grin that made my cheeks hurt, and found the right song. It was a schoolyard song, a choosing rhyme to pick teams.
“Arthur, Martha, Michael, John,” I sang, quick and low.
I wasn’t quite quick enough, for with a suddenness that caught my breath in the back of my throat, the wolf leapt.
I shrieked: “I name you Bastian!” completing the rhyme – or was it a spell? – then two huge paws punched me in the chest and my head hit the grass.
W.R Gingell is a Tasmanian author who enjoys reading, bacon, and slouching in front of the fire to write.